Saturday, 28 November 2009

No Planes, No Trains, Just Automobiles

Mrs Hogday's car sprang a leak in the cooling system the other day. At first I thought it was an airlock and topped it up, but alas the red warning thermometer symbol came on again after about 30 miles, so it was down to the garage. If we still had our fabulous old Saab I could probably have located and fixed the leak myself, but because she now has a `post modern` new Millenium type vehicle, nothing is that simple and everything is shoehorned in to every inch of available space. As if to emphasise this `shoe-horning thing`, a few months ago a headlight bulb died, so I duly purchased a replacement from Halfords, paying a fiver to take advantage of their `we fit it for you` offer. I could easily have done this myself, but I was wearing a suit and the weather was atrocious. The lad behind the counter took the bulb and walked round to the car, with me helpfully holding an umbrella. He then took one look at our car and said, `Ah, its one of those. Sorry sir, but I'm not allowed to remove any bits and pieces other than the back of the headlight. You'll have to get this done at the dealer`. It turns out that to get to the offside headlight on a Volkswagen Polo, many bits of essential equipment have to be removed in order to allow access! The nearside light only requires removal of the car battery to get at it, so I was right out of luck. I even checked the owners manual and, sure enough, it said to take it to the main dealer. I didn't, but I did give them a call and was told that it would cost about £75 in labour charges. When I laughed, I was told that I was lucky it wasn't a new Audi which would be close on £350 although he said that he knew a mechanic who would do it `privately` for £120. I took my light bulb home and the following morning I set to work. I found that by removing the diesel filter and two of the screws that held the thing that held the diesel filter, and bending it, I could just get my hands behind it. 45 minutes later, by use of a sort of braille technique and with a large portion of the skin from the back of my hand hanging from the aforementioned thing that held the diesel filter, the headlight bulb was in. The next car we get for Mrs Hogday will be preceded by the following question to the sales person: "How long does it take to change a lightbulb"? Anything more than `10 minutes` and we move on. But back to the leak. When I arrived at the garage the friendly owner came out with the pressure testing kit, hooked it up and within seconds we discovered the offending dribble. There is no such thing as a simple job with a modern car and so I only have to wait until Monday for the parts to be delivered and it should be up and running again. So I wait for the bus. 40 minutes later and one trundles into the village. I step in and give my destination, a mere 5 miles away. £4.20 says the driver. I produce £3.30 - shit, the £5 note i thought was in my wallet, wasn't. Off i get and go to the village shop where there's a cash machine. It's not a `bank` machine and I am charged £2 to withdraw £10. I walk back to the bus stop and after 20 minutes another bus comes along. I pay my £4.20 and sit. I look around and seem to be in a pensioners outing. 3 miles later, at the main town, and re-inforcements climb aboard. I am getting seriously out-gummed. I get up to help one old boy on, as he is struggling up on two walking sticks - the pensioners outing is, by now, more like a mobile geriatric ward, but good on them. A young mum with infant in a huge buggy-thing struggles on even with my help in steering it past the walking sticks and shopping bags but at last I'm not the youngest on board. I estimate that in the 5 mile journey I was the only one who paid a fare. Public transport utopia? Well I wouldn't trade my age for a bus pass so I suppose someone has to pay for it. 5pm and I'm back on the bus heading back to the garage. The owner phoned me. He has now got a spare car for Mrs HD who's journey to work is all but impossible on public transport. Once again I pay my fare. This time the old folks are all indoors and I am amongst a bus-load of young people carrying rucksacks. From the blank expressions, iPod earphones and the odd smattering of inane, cro-magnon grunts of communication or sentences consisting of lots of `SO this and SO that` mixed metaphors and the ubiquitous `LIKE, LIKE, LIKE` five times per sentence, I deduced that they were students from the local FE college. As we reached the previously mentioned town, re-inforcements embussed from their FE college. Out came the bus passes, in went the iPod earphones and they trooped aboard to add to the party, although the conversation was not improved one iota and so my options for eavesdropping were still nil. Again, it seemed I was the only bugger who paid for his ride, except this time it was me who was the oldest on the bus - foiled again. I got to my pals garage a bit too early and so while I waited for the spare car to arrive I browsed some of his stock. I snapped a particularly nifty Aston Martin, pictured above. I pondered it's secondhand pricetag of £75,000, my dear wife's impossible journey to work without her car and my two bus journeys. Suddenly 75 grand seemed quite reasonable, but I forgot to ask him how long it takes to change a headlight bulb

6 comments:

Conan the Librarian™ said...

The last bike I could strip down and put back together with any hope of making it actually go was a Jawa 350.
When I say "go" it's all relative, isn't it...?

Stressed Out Cop said...

Couldn't you cycle? Sod paying 8 quid for the bus!!

Hogday said...

Conan: Ah the simplicity of the Eastern Bloc Motorcycle Industry! And what a car that Moskovitch was. No components thinner than your wrist and a toolkit that would suit a Stonemason.

SoC: Good point sir. I must see if my mountain bike fits in the Polo? Actually, the thought of cycling along the A1 and the interlinking A and B roads around here would ruin my plan to draw my pension for twice as long as I drew my salary :))

Sierra Charlie said...

What a right royal pain in the backside! It's true the car makers deliberately make their cars hard to maintain so you have to pay their people to fix them. It's similar to the game the printer manufacturers play which is to virtually give the machines away and charge the Earth for the ink cartridges.

Don't forget that the car industry is exempt from a lot of the competition law because they have political clout!

Hogday said...

SC: Them and BAT eh?

carlyndowdle said...

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