Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Dirty fingernails

Today I had this wise idea to get my car washed and waxed.  Well, I actually just went and got it washed first, at this weird ghetto car wash within the Macarthur Maze, a place that looked like it used to be a gas station, but with all of the pumps ripped out of the islands, and the former mini-mart now sold bootleg t-shirts.  It was run sort of like a barbershop, with a bunch of essentially freelance dudes, all hungry for the next car to pull in.  I got this guy that looked like Snoop Dog, wearing a Jahvid Best jersey, and he charged me $13 although I just paid him 20 because he spent forever scrubbing off roughly a years’ worth of bugs and tree droppings all over my car.  The whole thing was just strange in a surreal way, these dudes detailing a bunch of Caddys and cruisers with 22″ rims, while my little Yaris sat there in the bay.

So then on the way home, I decided I wanted to wax the car.  After lunch, I went to the local Autozone, and bought some weird Turtle Wax kit for cars with black paint that promised to rejuvenate it magically.  It weighed like seven or eight pounds and had a variety of formulas in it, so I figured that was the stuff to get.  Back home, I started in on it and then realized the whole thing was this four-step procedure that required about twenty microfiber towels.  First it used this cleaning agent, which was a thick black spray that basically looked like dirty motor oil, and got all over me, the parking spot, my hands, my clothes, and some of it got on the car too.  Then you washed that off with a detailing spray, then sprayed on a wax, then another round of detailing spray.

By the end of the fourth round, I really did not give a flying fuck what my car’s finish looked like, and just wanted to be done.  I am not sure if the stuff did any magical wonders or not, except that my fingernails will be black for the next week.  And it made me wonder about age and aging and all of that, because twenty years ago, I would have spent an insane amount of time working on my car, washing it or cleaning it or whatever.  And now, I don’t change my own oil, and I don”t do any repair work, and I wonder if I ever had a project car, like if I got an old unrestored Camaro, if I would ever have the patience and time to ever work on it.

Case in point, I brought the Yaris to the dealer this week to get a few things done.  They changed the oil  (I realize it’s stupid to let a dealer do this, but I figured I would throw them a bone and give them a simple high-margin bit of profit so they would put up with my other issues), and I also had them flush out the air conditioning system with some crap to kill all of the various mold and mildew and whatnot.  I’ve also had a check engine light on and off since my accident last year, and I can read and reset those codes with the ScanGauge, but I did not know what to do about this.  They found the issue – the valve in the evaporative emission system was broken, and the hose that connected it to the charcoal canister was cut or broke.  So they ordered the parts, and I will get this fixed tomorrow.

I could probably have let this repair go, but I want the car to be CEL-free when I eventually have to get the next smog inspection.  I guess that doesn’t happen until 2014 or when I sell this car, but I still fantasize about buying another car soon.  I would really like to get a new TDI VW, maybe a Jetta, but I also don’t want a car payment, so I will keep squrreling away money, and when I eventually I get enough to buy a new car for cash and a trade-in, I will start to seriously entertain the idea.

The Yaris is still chugging along fine otherwise.  It’s just about to cross the 40,000 mile mark, and I’m still averaging just shy of 40 MPG for the daily commute.  I figured I would need new tires by now, but the original set still have a decent amount of tread.  I think the first thing to wear out on the car will be the driver’s side floor mat; my right shoe is rubbing raw a little area on a daily basis.  (And no issues with floor mats getting stuck on the gas pedal or any other sudden acceleration issues; my car was not one of the Toyotas affected.)

I think I’m going to go scrub my hands for the tenth time and see if any more of this crap will come loose.