Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kick You When You're Up, Kick You When You're Down

I know we all go through bad stretches; it's just part of life. And believe me, I understand that things could be much, much worse. But I'm really, truly beginning to wonder what I've done to piss off some higher power in this universe.

Did I inadvertently walk on someone's grave? Did I drive on some ancient sacred burial ground? Did I choose the wrong person to cut off in traffic? Did I cut in front of an elderly person at the grocery store or not give up my seat on a bus or train? Did I say or do something that invoked my father's disapproval from beyond the grave?

Whatever the reason, I have been humbled and now bow before my overlords.

Two weeks ago, my glasses broke. And that's something I was going to devote an entire blog post to, because I felt so helpless that I'd been acting as if I'd been severely injured or handicapped. Now, that seems like relatively small potatoes. Though a new pair did run about $300.

Last weekend, all of that rain that came up through the midwest poured enough water on my roof that it revealed a leak. A price tag hasn't actually been slapped on the damage yet, as we're still reviewing estimates, but it's a pretty safe bet that we'll be writing out a check for at least $7,000. (And that's surely being optimistic.)

And then yesterday, while driving around, it suddenly sounded as if a Harley-Davidson motorcycle was revving in the back seat of my car. I've had to replace the muffler enough times to become all too familiar with that noise. But how often do you bring your car in without being told everything else that's wrong with the vehicle?

I'm told it's about time to replace the timing belt on my old Honda Civic. Seven years or 105,000 miles is the recommendation for service. My car's nine years old and around 90,000 miles. So, yeah. And that runs about $600. Does it really need to be done? I asked with the most soul-crushed look I could muster without actually generating tears.

While "thinking about it," I did some research (wi-fi in the waiting room) and found that maybe I could get away with not replacing the belt. But if it goes in the two to three years I plan on keeping this thing, I can pretty much count on my engine going dead, being stranded wherever, and eventually having to pay at least twice the cost in repairs. So what do you do, hotshot? What do you do?

I suppose I could be grateful for that waiting room wi-fi knowing that I'll now be trapped here for about four hours. I know mechanics always try to give you the worst-case scenario that makes it sound like your car will explode as soon as you turn the ignition. But I actually do trust these guys. I've been coming to them for almost 10 years, and they've usually been straight with me.

Maybe someone with far more expertise in these matters than I (which really wouldn't take much) will tell me that I didn't need to get this done. And if that happens, I'll consider walking into rush hour highway traffic.

I only hope a collision doesn't break my glasses. I just bought those.