Monday, March 14, 2016

"Battling 'The Force' * - (* Not The One In The Movie)

I just got back from a pilates session.  Not the most exciting opening sentence but you have to start somewhere.  (“What’s ‘pilates’?”  A kind of physical training, which is not really a part of this story.  I trained at a gym for a long time, my gym trainer lost her mind, I wound up at pilates.  That’s all you need to know.  “Wait, that sounds interesting.”  Stop it.)

So here’s the thing.  Normally, when my car – a ’92 Lexus SC400, to be ploddingly specific – goes in for servicing, I am allotted a “loaner car”.  They call later in the day, “It’s ready”, I drive back to the dealership, and I pick up my car.

In the current situation, as of today, I have been driving a Lexus “loaner car” for six weeks.

What is that “current situation”?

It’s this.

Wait.  First, this.

In my, now, forty-four years of driving, I have only had four cars.  My first car, a Mazda, blew up.  (Not the entire car, just the engine.)  My second car, a Peugeot diesel, got “totaled” when I was rear-ended by a woman who explained she had just found out she was pregnant.  My third car, a Saab, I gave to my stepdaughter to take to college.  And my fourth car, which I have driven and lovingly maintained for over twenty-four years, is this Lexus.

I care inordinately about this car.  Purchased after I had received the biggest contract of my career.  So aside from an attachment forged by longevity, it reminds me of my once being “hot”.  Although that did not stop my hands from shaking when I wrote a check for more than double the purchase price of the Saab.

I get regular servicing on the Lexus.  Also, every couple of years, I take it into the “Body Shop”, so they can, via painting and dent removal, return the car as much as humanly possible to its original pristine condition.  What can I tell you?  Some people gamble.  I throw my money away on a car.

Okay, so six weeks ago, I reach over from the driver’s seat to pull the passenger door open for Dr. M, and the inside door handle comes off in my hand.  I chalk it up to “old age”.  Something similar will undoubtedly happen to me in the not too distant future.

“Oh, look.  My finger fell off.”  (Or, less fortuitously, something I do not have nine others of.)

I immediately drive my car to the nearby Lexus dealership, and they order a replacement inside door handle.  The next day I get a call, “The part’s in.  Drop by and we will install it for you.”

I come back to the Lexus dealership.  I am driving up to the carport where you deliver your car to one of the “Service” technicians.  But before I arrive there…

A customer’s car driven by a dealership valet parking attendant slams into the left front bumper of my beloved Lexus, with an impact so powerful that, though I am personally unhurt, I can barely emerge from the driver’s-side door (which has been somehow jostled out of alignment.)

Although the dealership’s surveillance cameras clearly substantiate that the dealership’s driver smashed into my car, no dealership employee will acknowledge the company’s culpability, claiming there are no applicable “rules-of-the-road” on the dealership’s thoroughfares.  To which I angrily reply, “It’s not bumper cars!

Anyway, jumping ahead, a joint claim report is eventually provided to Lexus’s insurance company, the standard procedures in these matters are set in motion, and I am provided a “loaner car” until matters were ultimately resolved.

Six weeks later, matters remain frustratingly unresolved.  (Other than my being informed – after a month – that… you know the drill… since my car is really old and the cost of repairs to rehabilitate it exceed its current “market value”, the insurance company will instead buy my car paying me what they determine it to be worth.)

“The Justice Paragraph”:  If the dealership’s driver had hit me instead of my car, their insurance company would have had been required to pay full price – notwithstanding the fact that I am old – to make me fully and rehabilitatively “whole.”  Why then do they not have to pay full price to make my damaged car fully and rehabilitatively “whole”?  The insurance adjuster’s response to that question was, “A car is different from a person.”  To which my imagined though unuttered response was, “Only because the insurance company says it is.”  End of “The Justice Paragraph”.  Or, more accurately, “The Injustice Paragraph.”

Here – finally – is where the post’s title “Battling ‘The Force’” comes into play.

I find myself unwilling to drive the “loaner car.”  In six weeks, I have driven it a total of seventy-seven miles.  That’s less than thirteen miles of driving a week.  Or less than two miles a day.

The car sits mostly in the garage.  I think of places to go and say, “Forget about it”, because every time I have gotten behind the wheel, I feel so riddled with tension and anxiety I can barely physically function.  

My pilates session relaxed me.  I get into the “loaner car”.  And it’s like I’m driving a truckload of nitro.

What exactly is the problem?

The problem is I am a “Habitual Chronicler of Humorous Events”.  And what could be funnier than, while waiting for your current car accident issue to be resolved, you got into another accident with your “loaner car”?  Unless it’s receiving a second “loaner car” after incapacitating your first “loaner car” and having an accident in that “loaner car” as well.

You have to admit that would be hilarious.  In a ruefully ironic kind of a way, but hilarious nonetheless.

“You messed up three cars in six weeks?”

You are probably laughing already.

“The Force” – and I cannot tell you how immensely powerful it is to a “Habitual Chronicler of Humorous Events” – requires monumental resistance against – both consciously and unconsciously, a resistance to the latter predicament being impossible – incurring further vehicular disaster in the name of a uniquely spectacular story.

I am aware of my historic vulnerability to that “Force.”  I get laughs telling people I had a car accident at the dealership.  I can hear “The Force” whispering enticingly, “These ones would be even bigger.”

Which keeps me assiduously out of the “loaner car.”  (Which Lexus offered me the unlimited use of because they felt guilty about the accident.   Wouldn’t you think?  I mean, it’s been six weeks!  Neighbors are asking, “Did you get a new car?”) 

It just struck me.  You know what would be really funny?  If the accident issue was finally resolved and I crashed the “loaner car” driving back to the dealership.

Boy, am I in trouble now!  “The Force” demanding the self-fulfillment of that comedic prophesy is virtually irresistible.

You know what? 

I’m going to need somebody to drive me there.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

I had my last car for more than 23 years until it died of body rust (the engine was still fine; I found a buyer on eBay with a car for which mine could be an organ donor). So I know how you feel, and there's really just one thing to do: pay up. Get your car fixed. You'll be much happier.


Guy Nicolucci said...

"Truckload of nitro." Love the reference.

Leo Metz said...

Why in the world is it taking so long to fix your car? Ok, the obvious aside, I just thought of another possible outcome that might be even funnier. Maybe not funnier, but certainly falls under the heading of Tragicomedic. And yet it's such that I'm reluctant to write it down, as if I have the kind of power that just might make the unmentioned scenario come true. Of course at the time that you do get that call from Lexus that your car is ready you probably won't care about any of the scenarios that have been brought up or almost brought up, or in the tradition of yesterday's post, you will no longer give a Rat's Ass! But, hey, let's be careful out there.