Last night I was reading one of my favorite message boards when someone posted about Black Jewel popcorn. I've never heard of it, but the mention sparked a fierce craving for popcorn, so off I toddled to the kitchen for one of my evil treats, a mini-bag of Pop Secret (it's called that because it's supposed to be a secret from my doctor. Don't tell.)
Anyway, I got the spark I wanted plus some to the 10th degree. Halfway through the designated nuking time, my little cheap microwave belched a terrible sound and emitted a flash of electricity or nuclear power from the chamber. I didn't know whether to approach it and try to shut off the dial or to run for the hills. I tried desperately to remember what people did in that movie, "The Day After." You know the one -- the 1983 movie where the nuclear bomb explodes in Lawrence, Kansas, and the last thing people saw was the image of their own skeleton as they went to heaven in a hurry? Quite a step up from the Kansas-Missouri war with Quantrill's Raiders.
Anyway, I digress. The daggone microwave went and blowed itself up. And it scared me. I haven't heard a sound like that before and sure haven't seen a nuclear meltdown in my kitchen before. But I ate that popcorn, and it was the best I ever had, even if I glowed on about it all night.
However, I paid the piper this morning -- the coldest morning so far this year -- when I decided to dress up and wear a skirt and blouse to work. And then the car wouldn't start. Not a single crank left in the cranky thing. I was supposed to go cover a county commissioner's meeting this morning, but it was too late to make the drive to the county seat once I had a co-worker come pick me up and drive me to the office.
The good news is I got some work done, then contacted the handy-dandy Goodyear car repair store a couple of blocks from my office. I made arrangements to have them drive me over to my car to try to jump the battery enough to drive it to their store to get a new battery, and an oil change while I was at it. (O Lord, for your tender mercies on my car, I do humbly give thanks. It has been xxxsometimexxx since my last oil change.)
I had inquired about the cost of the services before making these arrangements. Dude-O says $79.99 for a two-year battery. Fine. $29.99 for an oil change. OK, fine. It's cold. I'm in need. I'm also poor, and I figure $100 spent today will save me more than $100 in cab fare this week.
Off we go to my house. Dude-O says "why don't you give it a crank so I can hear what it's doing." OK. I expect the same dead nuthin' I got this morning. Oh no! The girl has ONE. LAST. CRANK. LEFT.
I wipe the egg off my face and we drive back to the store. I left the car and went on my way to cover a city commission meeting. And then I piddled with some other work, including a front-page story for tomorrow and stuff. I call over to the Goodyear store about 4:40 -- inquire about my darlin' car. "Oh, he's just about to start that and should be done by 5." Er, OK. cutting it close, ain'tcha? Cold beggars, however, cannot be picky. So I walk, in my ridiculous short skirt, to the Goodyear store, freezing more with each step in the darkening afternoon. No, it's not done at 5. It's not done at 5:15. Finally, it is complete at 5:35.
Meanwhile, Dude-O has given me a figure for the work.
"$198.98," he says with great satisfaction.
I did not faint on the showroom floor, because it would be unladylike to fall down in that dang short skirt. I didn't want to lose all of my dignity, or all of my money, for that matter.
I called him on it and asked how a $79.99 battery and a $29.99 oil change came up to near on 200 bucks.
Oh, well, you see, there's the $41.95 installation fee for the battery, and the $44.95 electrical system check we ran....
Not once in the 36 years that I have been driving have I ever, ever paid a fee to install a battery in any car I've owned, not even the one in 1972 that exploded when I started the Datsun station wagon in our front yard, causing both of my parents to run from the house fearing they would find pieces of my mangled body scattered across the block. Fortunately for me, that did not happen. I just wet my pants and sat staring blankly into space from the front seat until my dad dragged me out of the car to make sure I still had my lower limbs. I was fine once I changed clothes; they were fine when they reached the guy at the Datsun dealership who drove over and put a whole brand-new battery in the car for free, "cuz it shouldn'ta oughta done that."
So, here I sit, with a pile of bills I can't pay, but by George I can start that old car again. Of course, there are those other things that need attention, like, I supposedly need new wiper blades (how many times a year do garages think we need to replace those?) Oh, and the air filter needs to be changed next oil change. Oh. One other thing. That front left tie rod needs to be replaced and you need an alignment.
OK. Thanks. I'll start getting estimates for that -- at other places. I'm afraid you might charge me a fee to replace the air in my tires next time.