In Manhattan, I always took my car to Midas to have it serviced. I think their "Trust the Midas touch" slogan was very effective. I felt like I could trust them. On my last oil change before I graduated, the mechanic came out and said "We tested your battery, and it came back 'Bad.' You should probably get it replaced within the next couple of oil changes.
So when it came time for my first oil change in Nashville, I went to a Midas and told him I needed my oil change and probably a new battery.
"New battery? Are you having trouble starting your car?" "No, the last guy just said it was bad." "I'll look at it... looks fine. That was just a guy trying to sell you a battery." I walked away feeling happy he didn't lie and make me buy a new battery I didn't really need.
Yesterday after work I was driving around looking at some neighborhoods and homes my realtor told me about it. While driving, I noticed my light on my dashboard came on with the little battery picture. Bright red. When I shut my car off, I turned it on again and had no trouble. But not wanting to take a chance and end up with a dead battery on the side of some road, I made an appointment with Midas.
This morning when driving to work, my car was having a little trouble accelerating. I cut someone off when I was merging on the interstate. He honked. I felt bad about it, and knew he probably saw my Kansas license plate and blamed me for being new to the area. Oh, and I notice now that my left side front window won't roll down. The back one doesn't either, but it hasn't worked in a long time.
So after work today I drove to Midas. As I was pulling into Hendersonville, just a couple of miles from Midas, my RPM gage jumped to about 3.5 then hit zero and bounced between 0-1 before hitting zero and not recovering. A couple of blocks from Midas, my radio shut off, my turn signals stopped working, my ABS light came on, and my spedometer bottomed out at zero. I turned into Midas as my steering wheel was locking up and I parked it.
So I go in there and tell these guys I'm pretty sure my battery needs replaced and about all of these other things that just happened. They said it's probably all related and take a look at it. The manager says the battery is reading just 9 volts (you've seen a 9-volt battery; the small rectangle ones you lick to test the strength). A new one will be about $170 total. I'm not real happy because I expected a battery to run less than $100, but it's that time and I figure if I'm just paying $170 every 5-6 years for a battery, that's fine.
I pick up the Christian Single magazine from my bag and sit in the slightly-too-cold waiting area, reading some article about how to not feel so depressed when you're driving everywhere solo since you're single even though you want someone to talk to because you can talk to God. I wonder if this writer has ever pulled two solo round-trips from Nashville to Kansas without a working mp3 player and still feels this way.
The guy comes back out and says that they put the new battery in and it's not charging or something because my alternator has failed. He asks if I want a new alternator and says it will bring my bill to... he pauses and I brace myself, trying to tell myself not to get upset, that if I expect $500, then whatever he tells me will probably be less and it won't seem so bad.
"To... $563.25. You want to do it?"
Gasp! Worse than I expected and so it definitely seems so bad. That's probably more than 50% the value of my car! But what are my options? I can't say no because this car won't work without it, and I'm not in the position to be buying a new car right now. I guess if I fix it this car will last me hopefully a few more years. Except for the new tires I'll need in December. That'll be another $400. Holy cow! This is too expensive!
I nod my head. Yes, I want it. He walks back into the garage and I put my finger in my mouth and bite down to avoid tears. My mind is trying to come up with some comforting thought so I won't feel so bad about this. I remember this sermon I heard back in college about being a cheerful giver, and how when you give to meet someone's need, you can praise God for creating the person with the need, and praise Him for blessing you so you can meet the need. So I'm trying to think, Praise God that I can afford this, that I have the money. Praise God that I've been able to work these two weeks between my internship ending and starting full time to make some extra money.
And that was that. When this other guy was ringing up my bill, I mustered up the courage to say, "I saw on the website this coupon for $30 off any service more than $300. Can I apply that to this or should I have printed it off?" Another guy reached behind the counter and pulled out a stack of the exact coupons I was talking about and handed me one. "You mean this?" And I took it and handed it back to him. "Yep." He said, "Every little bit helps." Certainly. So I saved a little and paid $533.25.
That feels crazy to me that something can be so expensive. These guy must be making a fortune.
Note to self: marry a mechanic.
Oh, and the story doesn't end.
Right after posting this, I realized I couldn't find my phone. Jessica called it, and it went straight to voicemail. I called Midas with her phone and they said they had it. Actually he said, "Is it blue?" "Yes!" "Haven't seen it. Just kidding!" I said I'd be right down to pick it up. Then I couldn't find my keys. I went out to my car--my locked car-- and there are my keys: in the passenger's seat. I had accidentally left them when I was searching my car for my phone. I called Midas back and said I left my keys in my car so I couldn't come get my phone. They said to call a locksmith and they'd bring by my phone (they should for what I paid them today!).
The locksmith finally showed up and said "It'll be $120." I said, "One hundred and twenty?" I started crying. I was stressed out! He said, "I can charge you $100. Chill out, you aren't the first person in the world this has happened to." I muffle through my sobs that I just shelled out 500 bucks to get my car fixed. It took him like 20 seconds to get my door open. (Where can I get myself tools like that?) When he wrote me my receipt he said, "I'll just charge you $70. Have a good day." So just a tip: If you cry, they'll knock $50 off. It's still a rip-off.
Seriously, the locksmith thing made up a lot more upset than paying to get my car fixed, even though it was much more expensive. Because things like cars breaking down just happen. You can't prevent it. But paying to get my keys out of my locked car was like paying a penalty for my own carelessness. It was my fault. If I had been paying closer attention, it wouldn't have happened and I'd still have my $70.
One more thing to add to my to-do list: make a copy of my car key! As soon as I get my phone back, I'm going to bed. I don't want to risk something else happening to me today. *face-palm*