Call me vamboozled, but I think I’ve been hoodwinked…

I’m going to be honest with you when I say that there are few things that I genuinely dislike more than taking my car in for repair. Root canal – at least they give you those fun drugs first; grocery shopping – it’s amazing what I can find in those stores to amuse myself; getting my foot run over by a truck – compared to sitting around waiting for the sticker shock that is to be my final repair bill, I’ll take it! I don’t care what anybody else says … name your absolute worst, and compared to spending countless hours in their horribly uncomfortable lobby, sitting in chairs that barely meet the standards of the Geneva Convention, all the while waiting to be served an invoice that pretty much doubles every time that tech comes out, shakes his head with frustration while whispering sweet billing nothings into the ear of the guy behind the computer, I’m not sure if there’s anything that I’d rather not do than spend an afternoon at the auto shop.

So can you guess what I did last weekend?!

Hint: It was bigger than a breadbox, and infinitesimally more expensive, too.

It’s one of those things that from the moment I walk in the door and hand over my car keys to the unique man behind the counter, I just know that I’m about to get plunged into a chaotic world that’s ready and eager to suck many hours from my afternoon and several hundred dollars from my bank account before I’m done. From there, it’s just one bout with uncomfortable-ness after another, whether it’s their uncomfortable lobby chairs themselves or the uncomfortable amount of waiting while I watch other customers come and go like they were just stopping in for a six pack before heading home to see the big game, and don’t even get me started on the uncomfortable meetings that seem to occur periodically throughout my visits when the tech guy slinks out from the garage to let me know that “…it’s going to be just a little bit longer…” because he’s found an unusual quantity of engine mites clogging up the flux capacitor, but not to worry because they can flush those little buggers out and make her as good as new…

“…for only another $215.49…”

I swear, I don’t think that I’ve ever walked out of an auto shop with a bill that’s any less than many hundreds of dollars – maybe it’s because I’m what the industry likes to refer to as a sucker, maybe it’s because the vehicles that I drive just tend to have an affinity towards engine mites – I don’t know.

I guess the hardest part of all with this mechanical mind game is just the waiting, though followed closely behind by the signing of the credit card slip without having the foggiest idea exactly what I just paid for. I mean, things like oil change and new tires are easy enough for an idiot savant like myself to understand, but when I start seeing details on the invoice for shining up the left intake ventricle of the upper carburetor, adjusting the air valve ratio of the ¾ cam bearing to maximize fuel efficiency and motor hum, or even topping off the washer solvent – really, who other than a rocket scientist could know what all of that crap means?!

But you’ve got to hand it to these guys – they may gouge me something fierce every time I dare step foot on their turf, they may help boost my chiropractor’s office visits by providing barely subhuman seating facilities, and they may confuse the holy hell out of me with their car slang when it comes time to settle up the bill and try to explain what exactly they did over the last four hours that they’re now charging me the equivalent of a mortgage payment for … but at least they do it all with a smile on their face.

Sure, it’s a smile that very well may be driven by the sheer pleasure of screwing a common ignoramus like me who doesn’t get his car maintained when he’s supposed to out of a mortgage payment’s worth of clanking and klonking around the shop a couple of afternoons a year, but at least they’re able to take pride in that screwing via my wallet and in today’s bleak, screw ‘cause you’ll probably get screwed yourself anyways-economy, that’s gotta count for something.

Besides, maybe that’ll teach me to spend the extra money and buy into that engine mite coverage the next time I purchase an extended warranty…