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Black tea with milk makes everything better.  It’s true.  Especially when it’s Masala Chai tea you got at the Indian store out by the mall this afternoon.  Then it not only makes everything better, it makes things even a little bit good.  Not that I had any intention or idea of visiting either the Indian store or the mall when I woke up this morning.  No, I thought I’d be having a quiet day mostly at home getting things done.  I didn’t have work, since it’s Midterm Break, so I thought I’d go have breakfast with Rosie, and take care of some car stuff in the morning, then come home in the afternoon and maybe harvest the carrots, or do laundry, or make some more garlands for the craft fair coming up.  So, of course, that’s not what happened.

See, the brakes on Vanya (my car) had been making Death Noises for a little while.  When my Hero Mechanic turned the car over to me after the latest repairs he had warned me that the brakes would need some work sooner or later, but I had been hoping that it would be a little more later, after I’d had more of a chance to recover my financial equilibrium.  But then the brakes started making grinding noises, and I started silently freaking out about how I was going to fix this, and hoping that it wasn’t as bad as it sounded.  After my Adventures in Not Braking I really, really wanted to get it taken care of, but the money just wasn’t there.  On Tuesday I went to a late movie with Indy and Rosie (we saw The Invention of Lying, which I didn’t like).  Rosie, who knows about cars, told me sthat I needed to have it looked at soon, but that it was a relatively quick and easy fix, and that she would lend me the money to do it.  We agreed that we would do this Friday morning since neither of us had work, that we would take it to Car Shop Which Shall Not Be Named (since they could do it faster than Hero Mechanic who might need a few days), and walk over to the nearby diner to have breakfast while we waited.

This was a good  plan, and at first it seemed like everything was falling into place.  The CSWSNBN took the car, breakfast at the diner was excellent, and we ambled back in time to talk to the mechanic about what repairs were necessary. That was when things started to go awry.  As soon as the mechanic called us back he started giving us a big work up about how the brakes were almost completely shot, the car wasn’t safe to drive, the brakes were going to require all sorts of special attention because of unique design features, and the upshot of it was that they wanted almost $800 right then and there to do the work.  We could either pony up the cash on the spot, or they might be able to sign us up for a CSWSNBN credit card, and have three months to pay it off interest free.  We could choose which one of us would sign our lives away, and here was the paper work all ready for us to fill out.

I gotta say, it was intimidating.  I was nauseous.  I mean, things are tight around here.  Finding the rent money this month has been an adventure, much less suddenly trying to find $800.  Rosie was willing to be the one to sign her life away, but everything was happening too fast.  I went outside and called Mariah, who thankfully was able to give me some grounding.  She said that first of all, if I was going to pay that much, it should go to Hero Mechanic, not CSWSNBN, and that in any case, when it was that much money I should get a second opinion.  Also, she pointed out that the Blue Book value of the car is less than half that amount, so maybe that should factor into my decision making too.  It was like a breath of fresh air after the mechanic’s hard sell.  I called Hero Mechanic, and asked him how much he would charge me for the repairs.  He said, “Oh, $100, maybe $150.” And I said, “Can I bring it over this afternoon?”  Then I went back into CSWSNBN, told them to put the car back together, paid their “Inspection Fee,” and took the car out to Hero Mechanic, like I should have done in the first place.

On the way out I dropped Rosie off to pick up her car so she could follow me out to the Mechanic’s.  Once she had picked me up, she had some errands to run, so I tagged along with her.  It was kind of fun.  We looked at phones at the Verizon store (well, mostly she did – I sat in the corner, knit, and recovered my equilibrium), picked out new curtains at Bed, Bath & Beyond, and then decided to stop by the Mall of India while we were nearby.  And it was good.

Now I’m home, thinking about all the things I meant today that I never got to.  Johnsy’s home too, so we’re probably going to watch some West Wing in a little while (that’s our show).  Ani’s home too, back from a conference in Atlanta (I got to kitten-sit – it was fun!), so maybe she’ll join us.  Hero Mechanic says that the car will be ready for me tomorrow afternoon.  I think I’m going to have to take him some cookies.  Or maybe bake him some bread.  Or something.  And hopefully that will finally, finally be an end (at least for a while) to my Fun With Cars.