I kinda, sorta, a little bit forgot about renewing the registration for my van. Actually, I didn't totally forget, but I've been waiting for my ex to sign the paperwork to transfer the title to my name per our divorce agreement. He refused to sign it the first couple times I asked and well, now he just doesn't have time to get around to it, I guess. I'm sure he's very busy what with not working or taking care of any kids and all.
Anyway, I finally decided to just get the registration and worry about transferring the title later. So, I went to my local currency exchange and made a lame explanation as to why I hadn't taken care of my registration before now. The guy behind the bullet-proof window with the tiny mail slot told me, "My girlfriend left me for another girl, my son's in jail, and my cat was just run over. I don't really care why you didn't renew your registration on time. It's not my concern if you're a deadbeat and a menace to society, just give me your registration card."
"Ok then," I said as I slid the card under the thick glass separating this guy from the degenerate thugs like me.
He punched a couple numbers in his computer and uninterestedly informed me that I couldn't take care of my registration until I'd passed the emissions test. Great. Remember way back before I went to North Carolina and the service engine soon light was on? I was all concerned that my car would spontaneously combust or something if I drove across the country. Everyone reassured me that it was just the catalytic converter and it wouldn't affect anything until I had to pass the emissions test. So, here it was, several weeks later and the light was still on. I ran over to the testing station anyway just to see if I could pass.
I pulled up and asked the emissions guy, "My service engine soon light is on, can I still have the car tested now or do I need to have this fixed first?"
"I have to test your car or I'll get fired," Mr. Happy Pants replied.
Slightly confused, I asked, "So I can get it tested now even though this light is on?"
"Your check engine light is on," the guy stated the obvious.
"You've been inhaling emissions a little too long, haven't you?" I surmised.
"I said, go ahead and test my car please."
"I have to test it or I'll get fired," he repeated.
I made a mental note to suggest a job with the Air Team for Austin if he continues to get bad grades this year.
The guy completes the test and calls another guy over who tells me that my car can't pass because the light is on. (Yeah, kinda like I said when I first pulled up here?!)
So, I whined to my friend Doreen that I didn't know where to go because I've never had to take my car to a shop. I'll give my ex credit for that - he could fix anything on my car. She told me that one of her best friends owns a shop and he's a good, honest guy, and blah blah blah.
Why must car-fix-it-shops open so freaking early and close so freaking early? Why can't there be shops that don't open until afternoon and stay open all night? It would make life so much easier. But noooo, this shop opened at 7:30AM. So, after a whopping three and a half hours of sleep, I had to get up and wake my three youngest. My friend, Eric, followed us to the shop, I dropped off my car, and he drove us home. My kids only crushed half a dozen donuts into his upholstery. (Sorry about that.)
I went home, walked my kids to school, walked back home, then wandered around my house aimlessly because I was without a car. I mean, I didn't have any errands I had to run. I didn't have any appointments scheduled for today. I had nowhere I had to be. But still, I was without a vehicle should the need to go get donuts or something suddenly arise. I found that very disconcerting.
The mechanic called soon after I got back home. I believe he said, "Ha ha ha, hooo boy, you're gonna need to take out a loan to pay this bill! It'll be $920 for a new catalytic converter."
I said, "Only $920? Awesome! I'll take two!" Then I tried not to throw up. "Seriously? I need a whole new one? Can't you just duct tape it or something? Staples! Oooo! I know! Gorilla Glue! Can't you just glue it or something? Maybe it's not the catalytic converter. Maybe I just need an oil change or a car wash or something? How do you know it's the catalytic converter?" I don't know why I suggested these things. Like this guy, who went to school to learn how to repair cars, is going to take the "duct tape" advice from some weirdo babbling nutjob.
"Look lady, do you want us to fix your car, or not?"
"I guess I don't have a choice, do I? Go ahead," I sighed, defeated.
Why do expenses all pile up at the same time? COBRA payments, emergency room visit, surgery, and now this, all while my ex isn't working. (You know, because I wrote this, my furnace or something is now going to explode.)
So, fast forward to when my dad drove me to pick up my car. I looked at the mechanic and said, "Let me ask you something. If I lived in a state that didn't require emissions testing, would I eventually need this part replaced, or would my car drive just fine and I'd never know the difference?"
He said, "Your car would be fine. You'd never know the difference."
What's worse than paying huge amounts of money on car repairs is paying huge amounts of money on car repairs that you don't really need! I'll stop using hairspray to do my part in controlling air pollution, just let me keep my stupid broken catalytic converter!
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