Thursday, December 28, 2006

Progress? you call that Progress?

Yesterday I realized that I've had my Buick for a little over a year, and thus far 'Maybelyne' hasn't let me down when its counted. Unfortunately, all my giddy little bits of sentimentality were blasted out of the water by the fact that it also means it was time for me to take the old girl for her yearly brake tag inspection.

I called work to say I would be late, and figured the whole process wouldn't take very long... After all, "hit your turn signals and honk the horn" is the automotive equivalent to "open wide and say ahhhh". So I pulled into the station like I normally would, waited paitently for the four cars ahead of me to get their inspection stickers, and greeted the attendant with a smile. She asked no questions, had me honk the horn once and presented me and Maybelyne with a pretty piece of paper that said "REJECTED" on it in large, friendly, red letters.

"Say what?" I asked calmly.

"I'm sorry sir, but all of your turn signal bulbs are not lensed." the Inspection lady said.

I felt May's engine huccup in dissatisfaction. The front turn signals haven't had lenses since I bought the car... I just taped them over and moved on with my life without incident.

"I know that. They have tape over them."

"Sorry, sir. No cars can be passed without lensed lights."

"It's never been a problem before, Darlin. You sure this isn't some plot just to get me to come back so you can spend more time with me?" I batted my eyelashes at her in a hopeless attempt to flirt my way out of this.

Nothing is less impressive apparently, than a large italian man calling you 'darlin' while batting his eyelashes at you.

"No, sir. New rules passed by the parish. All lights to be lensed, no cracks of any kind in windshields, and all windshield wipers must be functional. That's progress for you."

"But you didn't ask me to do the wipers."

"Saw the lens first, so I saw no need. I can give you a temporary tag till you get them fixed though. That'll be 20 dollars"

"Twenty bucks for just the temp one?"

"That's right. Make sure that you keep the temp tag somewhere hidden, though... these things are a very high theft item since the new rules."

No Kidding. I wonder why. I thought, scowling slightly."Not in the windshield? but what if I get pulled over?"

"Just show the cops the temporary one and they'll let you go."

Yeah. Right. I took the tag and drove off in search of turn signals, after calling in to my boss first to say I was going to be even later.

"Your car was rejected?" He asked.

"That's right."

"Well, how does your Buick feel about that?"

"She's a little upset about it. I'll be there as soon as I can."

"I've been to that inspection station before... the lines get pretty long after the morning hours."

"So, I promise I'll be in by 4:00. Bye." (we get off work at 4:30)

I went to several junkyards, none of which seemed to have any wrecked Buicks. I was ready to give up when someone told me to try one last one, an auto salvage place near the Huey P Long bridge. the man behind the counter had a thick cajun accent, but obviously knew his stuff.

"Nah. We got no buicks ov da riht year here. But we do have udders dat'l work."

"wait... you mean you have the lenses?"

"Uhns dat'l work, yah. Diffent year, riht part. Dat'll be 50 bucks."

"I only have 42 dollars on me, but I can.."

"Hokay... 42 bucks den."

I love this town sometimes. I thanked the man and ran out to the car before he changed his mind and had me wrestle an alligator out of a wrecked school bus to make up the extra eight bucks. I slapped the parts on the car, waited in line at the station for another couple of hours, but got to work by noon.

Maybelyne, with her new turn signals, has never looked better.


Dreamwalker said...

My little fuel-operated friend is called Dent for obvious reasons :)

There is no regular check on cars in South Africa, and some of them are literally held together with duct tape. I drove behind this trolley powered vehicle (on its way to the scrap yard) as this happened is near to where I lived in Cape Town. :)

Over here in Aotearoa they are very fussy though...they check everything !! It is quite usual to fail, but they give you a free month in which to get the problem fixed.

James said...

My Clémence has seen better days shes got quite a few dents in her unfortunately i have yet to get the funds to repair her as i ran a bit low repairing lights and things. They are very strict in England and things have to be repaired immediately.