Friday, April 08, 2011
The Caring Custodian
Like any other man who is afraid people are judging him with their eyes, I'm afraid of turning down services I don't need. Extended warranties, shots for my cats, tire rotations...
Extended warranties aren't too bad. It's usually pretty easy to turn down a $70 warranty on a $100 device that doesn't even cover accidental (or purposeful) toilet dunkings. Still, I have to pretend like it's a struggle to say no.
"I don't know...I'd really like to, but I can't afford it. In fact, if my loan shark knew I was buying this thing in the first place, he'd dip me in the fire ants."
It's worse when it's the vet.
"Did you want to go ahead and get him up to date on his shots? Feline leukemia, ringworm, scrapetail, skeletal disintegration and...he's due for a neck tightening. I can write that all up for you now."
Here's where the guilt kicks in. I want to know how much this is going to cost ("too much"), but there's no way to ask without admitting that your love for your precious precious pet has a heartlessly low price.
"Twenty dollars? Jesus. No, I'm going to just rub some toothpaste on him and hope for the best. Box him back up. Thanks. Gimme that."
Wow. What a jerk! He does not want the best for his cat!
At least that's what I'm afraid they're going to think. But I don't want their little immune systems getting listless and bored. What kind of owner would THAT make me? Irresponsible, that's what kind.
Recently I had my car in for some work. Brake work that required that they remove the wheels. Before I continue, let me dispel a little myth: these days, rotating one's tires is not necessary. Back in the days when tires were made by lining the inside of a bundt cake pan with chewing gum and sprinkling it with dirt until it turned black, it was. If you didn't, apparently the tread would kind of squish over to one side and eventually migrate off the tire completely, taking up residence somewhere on the fender like a growth of moss. Or whatever.
More research and planning goes into today's tires than our country has put into its last three wars combined. If the rest of the car had kept pace with the improvements in tires, it wouldn't even need tires.
So they don't need to be rotated. If you have a front-wheel drive car, the ones on front wear out faster than the rear ones. Swap them if you must, but then the back end (the one that tends to swing around during skids) will have the slippery tires. There's an adventurous spirit in that I'll admit I admire.
When I picked up the car, they went over the invoice with me.
"Your calipers had apparently been bathed in acid nightly, because they were shot to shit, and your pads were so glazed and hardened and terrible and bad at stopping that they were actually improving your mileage. We replaced the rotors too, because they looked like rusty steel Swiss cheese, and all the little hoses were one hard stop away from catching fire. And since we had the wheels off anyway, we rotated your tires! That's the best part about this whole ordeal for you; that little job was free. Normally, we'd charge for it, but we rotated the fuck out of your tires for absolutely NO CHARGE AT ALL! You'd have to be some sort of car sadist to not rotate your tires! The ASE handbook requires us to leave rabbit droppings in the gloveboxes of people who refuse that service. And we did it FOR FREE!"
They were so proud of the fact they'd thrown that cherry on top of my brake-job sundae that I didn't have the heart to tell them I hated my car so much, I never rotated its tires. In fact, even though the car was now trying to shake itself to death at 70mph and above thanks to my freshly rotated tires, it still took me days to complain about it.
I mean, what kind of jerk complains about something that's free?
Eventually my rational brain reminded me that a lot of terrible and useless things are free. "Dead bugs in your light fixtures are free too," it said, shaking its head in shame. "Ask the shop to re-balance them or just put them back, you weenie."
To their credit, the shop balanced the wheels for free (after I mentioned that I could have the job done for free elsewhere) and the car works fine now. The guys do good work. Next time the car goes for a visit, though, I'm going to have to come right out and ask them to leave my tires alone. Yes, "free" is too high a price to pay for my car's well-being.
Posted by Paul FooDaddy Brand at 8:39 PM