Friday, August 12, 2005

Volkswagon's Little F-U to the Public

So I get home from Day 1 of the 2005 Quake Convention last night just before 5 p.m. the phone rings and it's My Fair Lady. She's stuck at her office because her car has a flat tire. It wasn't flat when she left her car to go into work, yet it's flat when she came out of work. Two things would cause this. The first being a puncture by something, and the second being someone slashed her tire.

There was no evidence of the tire being a slasher victim.

I knew full well my editor at Console Gold would be displeased at my lack of immediate updates, but as I'm not sleeping with him I knew full well where I needed to be. So after uploading a few pictures to the site, I headed south to pick up My Fair Lady and offer comfort and support. I drive up and she's pissed. And now for a little background on My Fair Lady's emotional state.

She has varying degrees of happy, or she's pissed. There is either pure fury and flames coming out of her nostrils, or she ranges from extremely happy to moderately perky. She is filled with a mighty amount of joy, which usually leads to people looking at my somber expression, back to her bouncing off the nearest wall like a ferret on speed, then back to me shaking my head in wonder. At this point I'll usually say a variation on the phrase:
"I don't get it either."
But such is Fate's Quirky Sense of Humor™ and I am most certainly Fate's beyotch. We now return you to your irregularly scheduled and sporadically paced blog.

I look at the VW Passat's tire, and it's about as flat as a tire can be. Next to it, all the tools for changing it are laid out and organized. This was the first time I'd seen a jack for a VW Passat, and it's a strange silver device not uncommon to 1950's sci-fi movies. Anyone that's ever encountered changing a tire on a VW Passat knows full well that one of the lugnuts holding the tire to the car is actually a secret lock, and you have to have the turn-key for it. The trick is two-fold: 1) you have to find the lugnut that's secretly the magic lock; 2) You have to have the magic key to unlock the magic lock, and good luck with that.

It's the size of a lugnut and should be in your VW Passat utility belt/tool kit. Naturally when we needed it months ago, it wasn't. So we bought one. Fortunately, it didn't wander off in the intervening months so I was able to unlock the magic lock only to discover the Right Hand of God™ had screwed in the lugnuts. This where modern machinery is both a blessing and a hindrance. I love knowing that an air compressor bolted those suckers onto the car so tight Hercules would look at it and say, "Sorry dude, you're walkin'." But when you find yourself in a bind, you have to recall that Hercules took one look and wished you well on your hike. After half an hour during which I exercised more than I have in the last month, four of the five lugnuts were loosened. This is when I found Volkswagon's secret little F-U to the public.

The final lugnut would not loosen up regardless of how much pressure and/or torque I put on it. Period. It then ocurred to me that this was Volkswagon's way of telling the public, "You can bust your butt all day long and get almost there, but you see that final one? That's ours, yo. Have your phone nearby 'cause you'll be calling us soon enough."

By this point I was sweating like a pig courtesy of working out in August in Texas. It doesn't matter where you are, be it under cover or in the sun. If you are outside doing any sort of manual labor in Texas from June through mid-October, you will sweat extensively. The only variable is how much. But that's not the best part.

My Fair Lady works in a, shall we say, "hostile" environment while going through law school, and most of her co-workers drove past us on the way out. Some even looked at us, then drove on about their way. A friend of ours later asked us if they could tell what we were up to. I made the comment that from the tools laid out on the ground, the fact that the car was jacked a foot in the air, and I was swearing to High Heaven™ while using said tools to forcibly remove a flattened tire, it could easily be assumed we were standing around waiting for a pizza to arrive.

Fortunately, an old comrade of hers drives up, gets out, looks at the lugnut, looks at me on my last leg ready to pass out, takes the tool from me and pops the lugnut out of its death grip. He assures me, "Oh I'm sure you would have gotten it soon enough."

I thank him by reminding him it's a long way to Christmas, which is about the time I would have loosened the damn thing enough to get the tire off.

He drives off and then it's hoisting the car back up, yanking the old tire off and slapping the new tire on, all whilst My Fair Lady looks on with encouragement. "I should be there helping you, you know I would be if not for these work clothes," she says while taking a deep swig from the cold Coke in her hands. I ignore her and focus on the task at hand - getting out of the damn heat.

Finally, the replacement tire is in place and we drive home. I'm driving her car while she's driving mine behind me, obviously listening to music and waving at me. All I can do is smile and wave back, and wonder about ways to hunt down the VW engineer who thought it would be a good idea for the Fist of God™ to lock the lugnuts onto the wheels. Any tips on ways to avenge myself upon VW are always welcome.

Postscript: There is currently a truck in the apartment complex behind us that has been blaring its car alarm for the last four hours non-stop because the vehicle's owner went to work about 15 minutes before a storm rolled in setting off every car alarm in the neighborhood. I've tried to take a lesson from all of this, and here it is: All cars have quirks, foreign engineers will slip a little knife into you when you're not looking, and listening to a damn car alarm for four hours can lead one to extreme violence. Watching a Dallas cop come by and check the truck, only to open the car door, lock it, then drive off leads one to believe that all Dallas cops suck. With that, I'm going to sleep with the pillow over my head.

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