Hertz Doughnut

Chevy Chase OWNS that line, you bastards!

I’ve been having a real devil of a time finding a decent mechanic in this town.* Regular readers will remember that last summer I spent a large amount of money having The Mystery Wagon “fixed” by a friendly-yet-incompetent Russian mechanic who repaired my steering gear while simultaneously breaking my horn and permanently turning my airbag light on. They probably teach this “one step forward, two steps back” method of auto repair in shitty mechanic school as a means to make sure your customers always have something that needs fixing.

*I know I’m writing two car-related updates in a row; this is not a coincidence. Over the next month I’m going to gradually phase out the long winded, narcissistic rambling and pop culture-related updates and transition this into a blog about Subaru repair and maintenance. I know this may be upsetting to some of you, but the idea tested really well in focus groups. 

In the months since, I’ve gone to three or four different mechanics to try and repair the damage done by my first mechanic, all of whom have looked at my car and failed to fix the existing problems while diagnosing several new ones and either wasting my time or outright disrespecting me in the process. (All of them have had near-perfect Yelp scores too, so fuck you, crowdsourcing.)

The result is that I now know there are a laundry list of things wrong with my car and a laundry list of mechanics who I don’t trust to fix them. Further complicating the matter is the fact that some of the mechanics have dismissed the other mechanics’ diagnoses. I don’t know if I should believe Incompetent Mechanic 1 who says I need new engine mounts, Incompetent Mechanic 2 who says my engine mounts are fine but ominously pronounced my left front wheel “loose”, or if I should just trust neither of them being as they’re both incompetent and seem to have started learning English at about the same time I graduated from high school.

The upshot is that being caught in traffic is never boring now – I’m always on the edge of my seat, wondering both if something is going to go wrong with my car on this outing, and if so, which thing? Will it be the engine mounts, the left wheel, or maybe a last-minute upset in the form of a freak electrical fire? It’s like March Madness, except I lose every time and my car is the only thing to suffer a gruesome, career ending injury. 

This situation isn’t sustainable, so I’ve decided to bite the bullet and take The Mystery Wagon to the one mechanic in Los Angeles who I both like and trust: A man named Cal who did some minor repair work on my car over a year ago. The best thing about Cal is that he grew up speaking the same language that I grew up speaking (English) – this is a good skill to have, because explaining in detail what’s wrong with a car requires a lot of spot on subject-verb agreements if you want to make any kind of sense.

The reason I haven’t gone to Cal before is because his shop is 20 miles away from me in Culver City, and is only open for a couple of hours on Saturday every weekend. I need my car to get home from Cal’s, but I have to leave my car at Cal’s so he can fix it so that it doesn’t break down and prevent me from going to work, where I earn the money I need to pay Cal to fix my car. It’s a punishing cycle from which the only escape is a rental car.

After several weeks of procrastination (which probably didn’t do The Mystery Wagon any favors) I finally sat down today to book a rental car for the entirety of next week, which will hopefully be long enough for Cal to look at my car, explain to me in perfect English what very expensive repairs need to be made, and then make them. 

The results were frustrating.

There are two Hertz Rent-A-Car offices within walking distance of Cal’s shop, both of which are closed on weekends. I guess I can understand why – keeping your business open on weekends would be a surefire way to both better serve your customers and earn money, two things that spell certain death for any company. What this means for me is that I have to go clear to LAX to pick up a rental car after dropping off my only means of transportation with Cal.

It seems like the less car I have, the more driving I have to do. If I just didn’t get my car fixed I’d only have to drive a few miles to the office and back every day, but the second I get rid of my car for a week I’m faced with a unique set of problems which can only be solved by car possession.  

I’ve just now realized that having an old car is a lot like having a dog – it costs a lot of money, requires frequent attention, and under the right circumstances can completely turn your life upside down for a period of time.

On the plus side, The Mystery Wagon doesn’t crap all over the place – but at the same time, I’ve never had a cute girl run up to me in a parking garage and say, “Oh my God, your Subaru is so cute! Can I pet him?”

Truman Capps, for all his bitching, can’t imagine life without The Mystery Wagon.