Jon de Vos: Doctor Munchausen, I presume
June 27, 2008
The bond has always been strong between a man and his horse. I’ll bet even Roy Rogers shed a manly little tear when he took Trigger to the vet. Back then, everybody took their shot-up horses to the gin-soaked old frontier doctor in Gunsmoke, “Tell it to me straight up, Doc, is Trigger gonna make it?”
“Well, Roy, them arrows is in pretty deep. If you’re a praying man, we need a couple quarts of rotgut right about now and while He’s at it, tell Him to throw in a miracle for the horse.”
Taking your car to the dealership is a lot like taking your pet to the vet, except you hardly ever wind up burying your car. Today there are a billion cars on the planet, compared to an estimated 1.6 billion cows, making a good case for picking up hitchhiking cows.
At the dealership, they take your car away and you’re not even allowed to visit. I guess they’re afraid that you’ll faint at the sight of oil. Thanks to modern technology, I no longer have the slightest idea what goes on under the hood. Last time I looked I could only find five of the eight or so spark plugs and apparently along the way, some gin-soaked car doctor figured out that the carburetor is like the appendix and we didn’t need it after all.
You have to wait for your car in a “waiting room” just like a hospital where the television is spot-welded to the Oprah Channel. Your best pal is under the knife and there’s nothing you can do but wring your hands and wait. If you get bored, go to the parts department and ask for a list of all the parts in your car and how much they cost. Find out how many are essential to driving down the street and see how many you can eliminate. Who needs a glove compartment or reverse gear, for instance. The sales department is a great place to view the latest Summer Collection of plaid pants.
No white shoes before Easter? Car salesmen wear them to funerals.
After five hours of Oprah, you’ve drooled all down your front and grown bored with out-of-body experiences. Suddenly, the service manager opens the door to the waiting room, all the waiting heads perk up like kitties at the can opener. He walks past a dozen wide-eyed patrons. He stops right in front of you! He speaks slowly, glaring at you, “We can’t find anything wrong.” Every chin in the waiting room slumps to their chests. Out of sympathy, no one looks at you.
Feebly you offer, “But I had to push it by hand the last two miles to get here.” He suggests you take a ride with one of the mechanics. The car runs perfectly! Everyone in the place is staring at you out of the corner of their eyes, like you were the type of whacko who brings his car in for the sheer masochistic pleasure of it. He acts as if you are faking the symptoms, an auto-hypochondriac, a four wheel drive Munchausen victim. He shakes his head and leaves for a few more hours.
Finally, he comes back with a triumphant grin, holding something greasy that looks like the innards of a food processor, “Finally,” he announces, “we found the problem.”
I look at the mess in his hands, “Is that it?” I said.
“No,” he replied, “I’m fixing a food processor. Your problem costs about 400 dollars.”
“400 bucks!” I nearly shouted.
“Yeah,” he said. “That a problem?”
“Well,” I said. “We’re gonna need a couple quarts of rotgut.”
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