Revenge Of The Mechanic And The Deathly Hallows, Part II

I still do this from time to time, but without a functioning horn it's just like I'm groping my car.

Again eager to avoid necessity for confrontation, I quickly tried to put things in perspective. In the grand scheme of things, I’m a white college educated insured working male with zero debt driving a car he got for free which happens to have one more red light on than it usually does. If anything, the constant presence of my airbag light was just a friendly reminder not to get into a head on collision, lest my airbag deploy to break my nose and Ray Bans and possibly save my life.

So I resigned myself to the fact that I would now just be The Guy With The Slightly Messed Up Car, doomed to forever explain to friends borrowing my car about how that light has been on for years, I don’t know why, I guess I could fix it but I don’t care enough, anyway just fill it with regular and no listening to Dubstep or Rush Limbaugh on my radio.

Then, on Sunday, I was waiting to turn left at an intersection when the light turned green and the person ahead of me didn’t move, head bent eagerly over his cell phone. I angrily mashed my horn, but there was no response – by which I mean, my car made no sounds. Now angry and frustrated, I tried several more times, raining blows down on the center of my steering wheel to no avail.

Ladies, if you want to know what impotence feels like, disconnect your horn and then get caught in traffic behind somebody who desperately needs to get honked at. Long story short, I didn’t make it through that light, but I did scream a lot of really nasty racial slurs about Russians that I made up pretty much on the spot.*


Every time I’d taken my car to the mechanic for repairs he’d fixed one part of it while breaking another, as if to create some sort of karmic – or carmic! – balance in the universe. An airbag light here, ill-aligned wheels there – that I could deal with. But disabling my horn? The one part of my car that allows me to let Californians know that they’re the world’s worst drivers? That inhibition of my aggression will not stand, man.

The following afternoon at work I listened to my customary pump up track before stepping out of the office with my phone. I was mad. I had been jerked around enough. I was full of piss and vinegar – mostly piss, but also some sea salt and vinegar chips from lunch – and ready with a carefully prepared tirade.   

“Hello?” My mechanic’s voice rang cheerfully from the other end of the line.

“Hi.” I said, darkly. “This is Truman Capps. You worked on my ’97 Legacy earlier in the week?”

“Oh, Truman!” He laughed. “How are you, my friend?”

Look how happy he is to talk to you! He called you his friend! You can’t be mean to him now! Look how polite and eccentric he is!

“I’m… Good. Well, I’m okay. It turns out, the, uh… The horn on my car isn’t working.

In rehearsals, the line sounded way more dramatic. The call is coming from inside the house. The Omega Protocol has been activated. The horn on my car isn’t working. Now, it sounded more like a guy bitching about the poor quality of discounted repair on his used station wagon.

“Oh!” My mechanic exclaimed. “I know exactly what is wrong. You bring in, we fix car. No problem.”

The fact that he didn’t immediately apologize galvanized me somewhat, and what little remaining aggression inside me rallied.

“Yeah, well… Look, I, uh… This is just really frustrating for me. Because it seems like every time I bring my car to you, something else goes wrong with it. First, you know, it was the airbag light – which still isn’t fixed! – and then, uh, you forgot to realign the wheels, and now this. And it’s inconvenient for me to bring my car in for the day.”

I was hoping for the righteous nerd rage of George McFly at the end of Back To The Future. Instead, I was more like George McFly at the beginning or middle of Back To The Future.

“Okay,” My mechanic said, after a pause. “Can you bring in car tomorrow?”

“Uh… Yeah, sure.”

“Great. Thank you!”

We hung up, and I promptly felt terrible about what I’d said to the nice man for the rest of the day.

The following morning I dropped off The Mystery Wagon – again – and rode my bike to work – again. That afternoon, my mechanic called to let me know that they had to have a new horn shipped in from Oregon,* and that it would arrive Friday. When I went back to pick up my still-hornless car, my mechanic briefly apologized for the inconvenience, and while I thanked him for his efforts I made a point of not accepting his apology.

*If only I’d never moved to California, I’d have a horn right now. BULLSHIT.

I guess we all have a lot of ambitious fantasies about the sorts of people we’d like to be – cooler people, smarter people, thinner people, more famous people – whether those ambitions are possible or not. At the end of the day, I guess I don’t have what it takes to be the verbally abusive person I dream of being. But seeing as I know that I’ll never be a particularly gifted fighter or fast runner, either, maybe that's for the best.

Truman Capps took his car in on Friday only to find that the part didn't arrive from Oregon on time.