Saab Story 1

It turns out, when I wrote yesterday’s little diddly at the office, I was less than 10 hours away from discovering that my car was going to fuck with me again, and keep me from making work the very next day. Truth be told, I fucked with my car first, and it was out of trust to a 710 band member/customer/employee who happened to be a mechanic. He did me right the first few times I went to him. Michele, my Qi Gong therapist, knew the other mechanic who shared the shop, and we both were happy with their progress. I should have known better, though, because I walked into a 710 situation where there was my m/c/e mechanic was face down in a bowl full of coke. Anyway, a year ago, his response to an off-track window was bolting that muther into door panel, and, since then, my window has been inoperable. Then yesterday, it ends up affecting my door lock, and with no window and no door on the driver’s side, I’m thinking it’s going to be a bit of acrobatic strength to scan my [ACME]* Inc. identification card and pull into the garage.

I took the car to the dealer. They pulled my door panel, lowered the window, and said that it would cost $900. The other guy Saab mechanics I now go to quoted me around $350 with a used regulator, about $500 with brand new. That’s also out of my price range, but it doesn’t matter, because it took an appointment set up 2 weeks in advance after 3 weeks of contact to replace a water pump. They are just that busy.

One of the tenants suggested a mechanic on Lamar. He said to go pick up a used regulator and see the man over there just north of 183. Straight up guy, he says, and so I knew there was another way through this. Before heading to the dealer I got in touch with DanMC, the former customer who turned me on to the Volcano 6 years ago. Seeing as how he worked for my dealer’s sister branch at Porsche, I was hoping he’d know someone at Saab who could be cool and help me out. He didn’t, but he knows a mechanic friend, and this guy totally knows upper line cars because he works with Mercedes. First of all, how necessary is this balance from the 710 m/c/e. Feeling bent over and screwed by the past with a $30,000, 10-year-old death trap. Second, I needed to find a 2002 Saab 9-3 5-door hatchback, driver’s front door window regulator.

While waiting at the dealer for them to finish tinkering with my car– a 2 hour wait, that went into lunch, that got me wondering just when the hell I was going to get out of there– I decided to open the yellow pages and contact used automotive parts. We’re deep in the heart of Texas, so there’s some all over town and whole bunch outside the city limits. Maybe not surprisingly, most of rejections were along the lines of “Saab?” than “No, not for an ’02 9-3.” And then, bam, a Saab-Volvo specialized yard with an 800 number. $105 for the part with shipping from California, probably a 1-week turnaround time. That made me feel better, and then my next call struck gold. “Shit, sir, I wouldn’t think we’d have one.” So I headed north.

Looking for messages, it’s good to know that the drive to the dealer is about 1/3 of the way to the salvage yard, so no detours. My window was down for the first time in a year. It was about 100 degrees again today, but the rest of the way to Griggs felt okay. I took the new toll road for the first time, which sounds exciting until you realize it’s a corporate land and tax grabbedy-grab by our Governor Good Hair for his slimeball backers and boys.

Burnet County always sounded nice to me, because 1. it wasn’t Williamson County, where nobody likes me wants to be; and, 2. Burnet Road is a fun drive with cool shops including a Gas Pipe. Harold’s has an office, and I stepped inside an old, panel infused home, with two guys working on computers up at the front door. One was a Mexican man who knew his stuff. The other was Eddie, a white dude with a ball cap, tank-top, and shorts exposing some elaborate ink down on his shin and towards the base of his foot.

He asked my name and I gave it to him. “I had never heard that name before.”

Usually at this point, I imagine myself ready to do a song-and-dance, with full-on tuxedo and gloves. It’s a Hebrew name…. (tappity-tap-tap)… One of the 12 lost tribes of Israel… (hoo wee)…. And still lost according to A&E…. (tip-top-hat-tap)…. most likely due us being a bunch of pot heads.

But I didn’t say it this time. It wasn’t due to fear. Not of these guys or the carving of a glaring wolf out of an oak tree branch. I was just tired. I wanted this over. No more haunts from 710, and I just didn’t feel like it. Everything seemed good; better to be underwhelming.

“What’s the return policy if this part doesn’t work?”

“Ten minutes or ten miles, which ever comes first.” He and the old guy waiting for a replacement third brake light for a late-90s small pick-up started laughing. “I’m kidding,” said Eddie. “90 days with receipt.”

It would be our last conversation for the next not quite 2 hours. At one point, after a flurry of front door openings that was reminiscent of a Busby Berkley musical, the door at times seemingly dinging every 45 seconds, and the phone ringing just about every 20 seconds; a time spand that included the Mexican dude helping Eddie smooth over a customer and ship out on a job he didn’t quite get the drift to ship out four days ago and that was needed yesterday; after all the hullaballoo and a near punch of the table by Eddie, when it seemed like reflection will ease the mood, I suggested, “Wow, it gets busy here.” Eddie didn’t care, but then 45 minutes later, after another bit of hullablloo but not as much, he replied, “Man, it does get busy around here.”

These guys didn’t care for me. I was the dude from Austin looking for Saab parts. Who cares if I’m flat broke and can’t seem to save my ride without the help of an unknown friend of a man I hadn’t spoken to in over a year. Who cares if I could tell them stories about Dimebag Darrell. (I actually can’t, but I know a lot of guys who could, and I know the name enough to drop a reference to it and care enough to spell his name right which is really an important part of this caveat– that I can be pretty fucking cool if you think about it sometimes, even though I’m just sitting in a chair staring at two guys who are avoiding me and wondering just what the fuck I’m supposed to do next.) The Mexican dude would have been, “Whatever,” but Eddie would have been impressed. More so than my spouting off on the 12 Tribes of Israel, although whose the say the Mexican guy wouldn’t have asked, “So you guys smoke weed, huh?”

At one point, Eddie looked at me and said, “You’re still here? Didn’t you get that part?”

“I’ve been here the whole time. Was something supposed to happen?”

Thankfully, it got the ball rolling on the part and proceeded to open the door for ribbing. The Mexican tisked, and said, “Shit, man, I know I wouldn’t be sitting around for 3 hours waiting on a part. I’d be out of here like an hour ago.” Another worker came by the guys. “I had a hell of a time with that car this morning,” he said, and then he looked and laughed at me. “You remember, because you were still here.” At this point, the other guy checks out the computer screen the Mexican guy had been staring at all afternoon. “Oooh,” he said, “I like me some Bristol Palin.”

The part cost me $69.

Please, Lord. Let me be happy with the purchase. Let me be able to use the window for drive throughs and to wave to my neighbors. Let me feel the cool dampness of a 76 degree early morning, before it gets over 100. Let me not go back to Griggs. And while I’m at it, let it not rain over my house this evening. Everywhere else in Texas is totally cool, but not tonight for my yard as my car is exposed to the world.

Amen.

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