Thursday, December 28 2006
Gretchen and I spent the day in various parts of Kingston, mostly in the motor mile north of town on 9W, taking care of car business (and working overtime, workout!). First we dropped off the Red 1998 Honda at a place to have it inspected and then we dropped off the Blue 1997 Honda at a Mavis Tires to replace the bald rear tires. From there we had to walk to all our subsequent destinations. The first of these was Mother Earth Storehouse, where I could get a nice healthy salad and begin the process of purging my system of all that holiday chocolate. We ran into a couple of people we knew there, one of whom was a photogenic Buddhist and I immediately knew I'd lost Gretchen to her social reflexes. I assembled myself a tempeh-themed salad and devoured it by my lonesome. Later I had a second course of soup that Gretchen was now available to join me for.
From there we went on something of a mercantile spree ranging from Home Depot to Barnes and Noble to Victoria's Secret to Macy's to CVS to Lowes. Items were returned, information gleaned, and merchandise obtained. Meanwhile Mavis had called and told us that we'd be needing a new tie rod, two complete front brakes, and four tires instead of two. Mavis always comes up with helpful ideas for additional ways to spend large sumes of money and normally I'm skeptical, but in this case they only mentioned things that had been troubling me. (They also recommended a $600 strut replacement but volunteered that in this season of post-holiday fiscal stress I could put it off.)
The folks with the red Honda Civic hadn't called us, so Gretchen called them instead and they said it was "good to go." We assumed this meant it had passed its inspection, so (once we had the Blue Honda back) I dropped Gretchen off to pick it up. As I was driving up Dug Hill Road approaching home she called me on my barely=in-range cellphone to tell me that the red Honda had failed inspection because of a bad oxygen sensor and that the shop wanted to replace it for "$400." I knew for a fact that oxygen sensors cost less than $100 and are as easy to replace as spark plugs. I told Gretchen to just bring it home and let me deal with it.
It turned out that our car had sat on the lot of that inspection place all day and all they'd done was run a computer check on its error codes. One of the main reasons we'd dropped it off there was to have them open its hood, but it had clearly never been opened when I tried to open it tonight. I was thinking of maybe we'd have to drop it off at a JiffyLube just so I could gain access to the engine, but then when I was out dicking around with the hood, I gave it a random upward pull and it unexpectedly came slightly ajar, enough for me to reach in and undo the latch. If I'd said a prayer before doing that, perhaps I'd have seen this as irrefutable evidence of the power of prayer, but fortunately all I'd only cursed. Suddenly it was looking like I was going to be able to replace that oxygen sensor myself (unless the bad oxygen sensor computer code was just a symptom of a worse problem).
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