Troubles and Respite (Part 1)
First off, I sold off my VW Beetle. It had been in the shop for the last five or six weeks. Actually, it's been in two different shops during that time. I got it out of the first shop, and it ran for three days somewhere in the middle these six weeks. Then it broke down again. I dropped it off at another shop since shop number one obviously didn't fix the problem. During that short period that it ran, I decided to buy a new used-car. I was driving the VW to the dealer for a trade-in estimate when it crapped-out. Lovely. A definite deal-breaker. In hindsight, it is almost funny. Actually, if it was someone else's life, it would be.
The most recent update I had from shop number two was that they were still trying to figure out what was wrong with the car's electrical system. One of the car's fuse boxes had melted, so they had to replace it before they could start looking for the real problem. That's right, a melted fuse box was, "symptomatic and not the real problem with the car." Anything that causes your fuse box to melt is not good and most likely very expensive.
I don't know much of anything about cars, but I do know that every time the Beetle goes in for some work, I'm probably looking at $1000 shop bill. I was terrified as to what the "real problem" might be and how much that would cost.
Then, I received a miraculous phone call. A man called and said that he'd like to buy the car as-is and he'd pick up the shop bill. After several phone calls and talking to the mechanic, we came to an agreement. I sold the car and a great deal of worry. He got the title and a car that would have been shot and sent to the glue factory if it were a horse.
I'm still looking for a replacement car. My father-in-law has been kind enough to loan me one of his cars until I find something. Before I go any further, let me preface this by saying that I am in no way complaining about my loaner. It's free and it runs. I have no complaints. This is particularly true if you compare it to some of the other fine cars that I've borrowed from my father-in-law over the years. When you consider that no less than fifty-percent of them have exploded, the fact that it runs is fantastic. Okay, I have to admit, the whole exploding car thing is a bit of hyperbole. Only the engines did. And they didn't some much as explode as melt, lock-up, and squirt oil everywhere. And smoke.
My current ride is 2003 Cavalier. For those you who might not be familiar with this fine driving machine, it's Chevrolet's version of a compact-sedan something like a Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic except that it's made out of plastic and pressed tin.
While the Cavalier is condom like in that it should be bought new, used once, and thrown away, it is not a car that will get you laid. In fact, if any of you have a teenage boy with a driver's license and you do not what to become a grandparent in the immediate future, buy them this car. With an engine that revs like a farting zipper and trails a cloud of noxious gray-white smoke, this car will impress the ladies.
This particular Cavalier leaks or burns (or both) roughly a quart of oil a day. With the correct combination of deceleration while in gear followed by aggressive acceleration, this car lays down an impressive smoke screen like one of those cute little World War Two destroyers trying to screen the aircraft carrier from a Kamikaze attack.
Gideon has named the car Stinky-Pete.
While I've never been too concerned about my car's appearance, it's been hard learning to live with Stinky-Pete. I feel guilty that every time I drive this car, a huge swath of the Amazon Rainforest dies and global temperatures creep up a degree or two. I find myself deliberately avoiding high traffic pedestrian areas because it's embarrassing to pull away from an intersection when you get a green light, and all the poor people collapse, writhe, and die in the crosswalk.
In addition to this car drama, we've been doing what we can to survive the recession. I know that technically this economic downturn has not been named a recession by very authoritative sounding bean-counters since we haven't had two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, but, if Warren Buffett says he thinks it's a recession, I'll believe him. He a lot smarter than me and more successful than the average bean-counter, so I figure he'd know.
The best thing that has happened in the last few weeks is that we've acquired two new renters both by the name of Anna. If we find one more, I think that it will officially qualify as a collection. We helped one Anna move in since she was an acquaintance of my wife. That went pretty well minus the fact she lived in a pseudo-ghetto and she nearly got us into a fight with someone who was probably a Latino drug-dealer and/or gang member on accident.
My other attempts to find extra money have not been nearly as successful. Selling artwork and miscellaneous junk on eBay used to be a great source of beer money in times past. Now, not much of anything is selling. I've gone so far as to look for a second job, but there isn't much out there. I'm hoping that my cost-of-living-adjustment for the next year, plus the two renters, plus cutting back on a bunch of crap will keep us afloat. I think it will, but I still don't feel good about things. I've been granted a respite but not a solution.