One of the most endearing things about Star Trek was how Scotty would always exaggerate how long it would take for him to fix the Enterprise in order to make himself look like a miracle worker. Today served as a reminder that auto mechanics work on the exact opposite principle.
I knew this wasn’t going to be a quick visit, considering the veritable laundry list of things the dealer said my car needed done to it. But I allowed myself a moment of hope when the mechanic at Tuffy got my car in relatively quickly, and just as quickly walked me around my car to show me that, yes, the dealer was mostly right (they were a little off on the battery, as in completely). I agreed to the large amount of work and the larger amount of money, and with wide-eyed innocence asked how long he thought it would take.
“Oh, probably about three hours.”
Now three hours isn’t a bad amount of time if you’re in the comfort of your own home. Three hours is downright bleak in an auto shop waiting room where the only luxury is a 15-inch TV. Especially when I’d just been deprived of the primary way to get back to the comfort of my own home. They were nice enough to offer me a ride, but I figured hey, it’s three hours. I walk across the street, wander around Wal-Mart for a little while, get some food at one of the numerous nearby restaurants, then go back to the waiting room and read for forty-five minutes or so. No problem.
Well, three-quarters of that plan worked out fine. It was the reading for forty-five minutes or so that hit a snag. Because “or so” turned out to be two more hours. And “reading” ended up being “read a paragraph, then get up and look and see what’s going on with my car.” Yeah, watched pots and boiling and all that, but I’m far too impatient. Besides, they told me three hours. So in my mind, any moment, my car was coming down off that lift. I just misjudged exactly how many moments would go by before that happened.
And then came that weird period that always comes along, when you’re finally back in your car after someone else has been in it and everything just feels wrong. The seat was too far back, the radio had to be reset, the new tires made it sit differently, the engine sound was off, everything seemed off. I had to drive around for a little while to get myself back into the mindset that this was in fact my car. We needed to get to know each other again.
Hopefully I’m done with automotive expenditures for a while. I’m nearing the point where putting more money into this car is a case of diminishing returns, but as I do so love not having a car payment, I’m going to wring every last mile I can out of this one. Which likely means more temporally displaced afternoons in front of tiny television screens, restlessly popping up and down in the hopes it’ll make a mechanic work faster. Scotty they ain’t.