Interlude: My Car Story

Oh well, now is probably as good a time as any to tell you the story of our poor old car.

A few weeks back, as I was returning from the shops with Mrs. Hatboy and Wump and Toop, I drove into a tree. This was not a welcome development in my life, having just begun to recover from a few annoying financial issues of previous months.

Even more annoyingly, although it does have a certain sweeping “this is how the universe rolls” grandness to it, basically the sole purpose of the shopping trip had been to buy a new headlight and reverse-light for the car, so it would pass its annual check-up. I’d purchased the bulbs, and manly-manned them into place in the mall carpark, and the car was good to go. I was very pleased with myself.

So obviously, as I was pulling up our driveway, the treacherous conditions and my overzealous attempt to get speed up so we could make the final ascent into our yard backfired on me. I skidded off an ice-hump and, mirror-smooth as the road was, was unable to stop myself careening off the road and hitting a tree on the corner of our block.

The good news was that this didn’t smash my newly-replaced headlight bulb or, of course, the reverse lights in the back. In fact, it didn’t even smash the bulbs in the headlight that it did fuck right up. Everything still sort of worked, and we were able to go on driving the car while we sorted out the repairs, so that was something.

The total damage was one headlight assembly, the front bumper and inner plastic thingy, the front right wheel rim, a slight ding in the bonnet (or hood, as USians call it[1]) and a general skewedness to the whole front of the car that made a bunch of the joins a bit wonky.

[1] Now that I think about this, what is the deal with this term? Both of them are sort-of-kind-of about an item of headgear that could just about be applied to the cover that you can don or doff to check the car engine. Bonnet is just a lot girlier – not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just … why? And the same goes for boot and trunk. It sort of makes sense that the boot is the opposite end of the car to the bonnet, but now you have a bonnet and boots in the same wardrobe and that’s just strange. Trunk actually makes more sense because it’s your storage thingy. And now I want to draw the UK and the US versions of the car concept – the former as a person in bonnet and boots, the latter as a person in a hoodie, with a trunk. Either the luggage variety or the nose variety, really.

Oh, and – we only discovered a few days later – the radiator.

We only discovered it a few days later when the antifreeze or coolant or jäähdytysneste or whatever other dramatically unintuitive name that stuff has … all leaked out and the car’s heater stopped working. The engine didn’t immediately overheat because it was -15°C at the time, but you’d better believe we noticed the heater not working.

Then the temperature rose back towards 0°C, and we found the car was unable to drive more than about 2km without going into the red.

Before we even found out about the radiator, however, Mrs. Hatboy took the car in to a repair shop. They quoted her €1000 for the parts, €1000 for the repair work and paint job. This, of course, for a €3000 car, was laughable.

Instead, I contacted a friend of ours who had a car-repair business of his own, on the logic that he could check it out, give us a non-crooked opinion based on a somewhat more practical parts-salvaging and repair ideology, and whatever it cost I would far rather give the money to a friend than to a bunch of conniving fucks who wanted to charge me a significant fraction of my car’s price just to paint the front bumper.

Our friend wound up quoting €800 for the parts, including the €250 radiator which we’d discovered by this point. So it was still likely to cost me upwards of €1000 to get the car fixed, with the aforementioned disclaimer that it was better to give that money to someone I knew and liked.

This was still somewhat laughable for the fraction of the total valule of the car, and right on the edge of Hell-no for me, but in the end I decided to go ahead with it. Busted as it was, we might have gotten €1000 for the car, and a new one would cost us €1500 if we were really lucky. The last €1500 car we bought was … well, we called it Fritz for a reason, and that reason wasn’t just because it was a Volkswagen.

So it came down to making a €1000 loss on a car we at least knew was solid, or (after factoring in the €3000 original price and the €1000 we may get for it) making a €500 – €1500 loss on getting a whole new car of unknown performance quality, plus all the hassle of finding the car and checking it out and paying for it and doing the registry paperwork (I know, BRKN, but it is a pain in the balls even if it does ultimately only take a few minutes). In the end we opted for the car we knew, a cash-from-my-retirement-mattress payment, and no more hassle.

There was an unfortunate mix-up with the radiator as our friend wound up with the wrong one so that was a bit of a hassle, but he got the right one in a couple of days and on Wednesday he was finally done. I’d been taking the bus for the past few days, which wasn’t all that bad. I agreed to take public transport straight from work and pick up the car from our friend’s place on Wednesday afternoon, and that was a whole other adventure.

Well, not so much an adventure as a mild annoyance as the impeccably Google-mapped plan for getting from Herttoniemi to Kuninkaanmäki failed to work on my shitty-arse Windows Phone[2], and it was too full[3] to properly download the Windows Phone navigator app which could offer me proper routes, but it did manage to tell me roughly where to go and which buses to take. I was waiting for one such bus to show up when who should drive into the bus bay but another friend of ours.

[2] I know, BRKN, I would have bought a new phone by now if I hadn’t crashed my fucking car.

[3] Oh, it has a microSD card with 28 GB of free space on it, and I have set the phone to save new shit there, but it doesn’t. And the card doesn’t operate with the phone in any way. Piece of shit.

Our friend was dropping his mother-in-law (I think) at the bus stop so she could get a bus to Porvoo, and he offered me a lift to the place I had to go and pick up my car. Which was just amazing serendipity and ended the whole adventure on a high note.

I got my lift to the mechanic’s place, I got my car back, and I got home in time for a blizzard to completely swamp our yard and street again. Also my snow shovel broke on Thursday morning when I was trying to shake that hideously heavy above-freezing-point snow off the thing.

Oh well.

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4 Responses to Interlude: My Car Story

  1. brknwntr says:

    The “paperwork” for buying a car is all done online now. And took it My paperwork person about five minutes. I WAS annoyed when I had to interrupt my TV show to electronicly sign the papers with a four digit pin code from my phone though. Those cis-privileges.

    Also, I assumed the car had delayed the purchase of a new phone. It was logical. But you got a good solid chuckle out of me.

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