Something to Read When You're Bored

Bad Carma
March 6, 2008, 1:33 pm
Filed under: Life | Tags:

Yes, I deliberatly spelled Karma with a ‘C’ because I’ve decided that my car has bad Karma. Something bad happened this morning and it wasn’t actually my car’s fault but it made me like my car less anyway. And it’s probably just a subconscious psychological strategy for evading personal responsibility, but I have this feeling right now that my car is bad news and that maybe it’s time to finally ditch it. The idea of rigging my car to drive itself off a cliff has surprisingly high appeal, as does the more practical solution of making it someone else’s problem by dumping it at some sketchy used car dealership in exchange for maybe $50.

The only trouble I have with this plan is the thought of what a nasty hassle it is to shop and negotiate for a new car. It makes me more inclined to stick with the bad karma car and keep up the mindfulness lessons. It might even help me learn some other valuable life skills like humility and patience, especially now that it’s looking more beat up than ever and of course it’s still dirty. On second thought, maybe a new car would be worth the hassle after all.

So it’s back to the mechanic tomorrow, where I will be very sure this time to get my free car wash. Maybe my thoughts on the subject will be more rational once the stupid thing is at least clean again.


More Fun With My Car
February 29, 2008, 12:24 am
Filed under: Life | Tags: ,

The check engine light came on in my car yesterday morning as I was on my way to work. At first it freaked me out because it was flashing and I know just enough about cars to know that a flashing check engine light means you should immediately stop driving and call your mechanic. So I had already started going into a controlled panic and was pulling my car over onto a side street when the light stopped flashing. If I hadn’t already been in that semi-panicked mode it probably would have occurred to me sooner that the light just always flashes at you a bit when it first comes on, which it turns out is true but I didn’t learn that until that afternoon at the mechanic. So I immediately called my mechanic, which was easy since the number is programmed into my phone (a good indicator of just how reliable my car is), and I made an appointment to take it in as soon as possible. I pretty quickly figured out that I had overreacted to the light but figured it was a good idea to get it fixed promptly anyway. The whole mechanic thing was pretty routine and generally dissatisfying – one big-ish problem and lots of little things that might be causing it. So they fixed a bunch of little things and told me that it may or may not solve the big-ish problem but at least the light is off again – I really hate driving around with the check engine light on, it makes me edgy.

With a car like mine I figure it’s mentally healthier to take these things in stride, so I’m not wasting time worrying about the car or freaking out about the money, but I was truly disappointed this morning when I was deprived of one of the few redeeming qualities of the whole ‘broken car’ experience. There are two things that actually make me happy when I go to the mechanic – bulking up my REI dividend by charging the expense to my REI credit card and getting a free car wash (and sometimes a third when I get to telecommute from Cupcake Royale a few blocks away from my mechanic). I was actually excited enough about the car wash that I specifically asked my mechanic when I checked in my car to make sure it would get cleaned before I got it back (my car hadn’t been washed for months and it was insanely dirty). So this morning after paying for all the little repairs that may or may not have fixed my car (adding $6.20 to my dividend!), I was eagerly waiting for them to pull my car around the corner looking all sleek and shiny again, reminding me of why I bought the stupid thing in the first place. I was pretty crushed when it appeared just as covered in muck, maybe even more so, as it was when I dropped it off. Of course by this time I was already an hour late for work and really felt that it would be ridiculous to go back in and ask them to take my car back and wash it. So I sucked it up and climbed into my dirty car, which of course didn’t feel as nice to drive as it would have if it were shiny, and drove to Everett feeling pretty sour about the whole thing. So now I’m left wondering if I should just sell my car before it falls apart completely, and whether my mechanic would give me a free car wash if I go back and ask.

My Car is Teaching Me Mindfulness
January 31, 2008, 9:32 am
Filed under: Life | Tags: ,

I have a love-hate relationship with my car. It’s a ’96 Volkswagen GTI and all kinds of trouble. The only things I can think of right now that I like about my car are the turning radius, the sunroof, and the fact that it hasn’t been stolen. So lately it’s been getting up to this new trick of locking the steering wheel roughly every other time I park my car. And the trick to unlocking the steering wheel is to gently jiggle the steering wheel and key until magically the key is able to turn.

The problem I have is with the ‘gently’ part. As I’m sitting in my car, impatient to get somewhere and frequently running late, my irritation at my car for holding things up makes it challenging to resist yanking on the steering wheel as hard as I can and/or hitting something, even though I know that both of these actions are counterproductive. Even when I suppress my furious urges and attempt the advised gentle jiggling, my arms remain possessed by frustration and the movement is still too forceful to achieve the magical unlocking of the ignition.

It isn’t until I stop, take a deep breath, and channel a feeling of calm relaxation that I can manage to manipulate the steering wheel gently enough to convince my car that I am not an uptight car thief (my theory on why the ‘gently’ rule exists to begin with). In the end, the experience reminds me of meditation, where one aims to achieve calm detachment from thoughts and feelings and to observe ideas and emotions drifting through your mind without reacting to them. So unless I figure out how to make my car quit locking the steering wheel on me (am I torquing the wheel when I park? Is my car just over-sensitive?), I guess I’m on the road to becoming a yogi.