When I moved to Las Vegas, Mickey and Leta and I drove out here in what until that point had been my mother's 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible. As a Chicago resident, I never needed a car; for as often as people complain about it, the CTA is reliable and efficient--trains and buses took me everywhere I needed to go for $100/month. The Beetle was my mom's 50th birthday present from my dad, and he conveniently gifted her with a newer, better car for her 60th birthday, which fell right before I moved. Therefore, The Beetle was passed to a very-grateful me, who desperately needed some means of transport out here in the desert.
Here's the thing, though: The Beetle is now twelve years old, and though it still has fewer than 100,000 miles on the odometer, it's showing its age. Every six months something goes wrong with it. I'll bring it in for an oil change and leave with a list of a dozen other problems that need to be addressed. Lights pop on the dashboard and disappear again like some sadistic carnival game. It's maddening. All I want to do is move back to a place with decent public transit. I do not think car ownership is for me. The only thing I like about it is that it's a convertible. Vegas nights are good for putting the top down.
Lately, though, the automobile-related chaos has reached absurd levels. I'm fairly certain I've been written into someone's comedy of errors. It started when I noticed that my parents hadn't sent a new license plate sticker. The car is still registered in Illinois because if I switched it to Nevada plates, my car insurance would go up many hundreds of dollars. Fortunately I'm a student, not technically a legal resident of Nevada, so I can get away with it. Anyway, I found this odd, because normally I receive a new sticker around this time of year.
I called my mom. (Call your mom sometimes, guys.) She said that they couldn't get a new sticker because I needed to get an emissions test first. Good. Fine. I can do that.
I look up the official locations to receive an emissions test on the Nevada DMV website. There's one down the street. Excellent. I go there.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, but the outlet below the wheel, where we need to plug in the equipment, is broken. You'll have to get it fixed first."
Of course it's broken. I should have known better. He recommends a Firestone Automotive place up the street that can fix the car and do the emissions test. The next morning, I head there.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, but this is something only the dealership can fix. You'll have to make an appointment there."
The nearest Volkswagen dealership is out in the suburb of Henderson. I give them a call. After being transferred twice to the wrong department, the receptionist finally connects me with the service department. They do not have any appointments available until Tuesday. My plates expire on Monday. Of course they do. Is it legal to Sharpie in a "6" on the sticker until I resolve this? Probably not.
I make an appointment for Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. It's an appointment. They will fix my car at 8 a.m. on a Tuesday. I awake bright and early this morning, and drive to Henderson.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, but we can't get this in until 11:30 or noon."
Of course they can't. "Fine. How do I get back?"
"We have a shuttle."
"Great! When can they take me?"
"In about two hours."
I am not spending two hours at a fucking car dealership listening to Taylor Swift on repeat and drinking bottled water. I haven't eaten breakfast. I have to teach a class at 11:30.
This is where my wonderful friends swoop in to save me from my fate. Thanks, Joe, for picking me up and making yourself late to work! You are a champ. Also: Thanks, Danielle, for taking me to the dealership after their shuttle has stopped running so that I can pick up my car! You, too, are worthy of the champ title.
Barring any unforeseen complications (in this saga, unforeseen complications happen so frequently that they no longer truly qualify as unforeseen), I will have my car back tonight, though I'm sure I'll lose a couple hundred bucks in the process. Wish me luck, and write your congresspeople. Tell them that high-speed rail and improved public transit are imperative for American society.
p.s. I wrote a review of Vu Tran's Dragonfish on my other blog.