Sunday, October 01, 2006

I'm a Saab Genius!

Winter is upon us in sunny California. I stopped by my storage to get my down comforter, sweaters, wool socks. It's a nippy 75 degrees.

As I left, I pushed the button to close the roof of my convertible. Suddenly, I hear a loud SNAP. The roof is beeping, but not moving. The interior computer says CHECK SOFT TOP. Usually that happens if the trunk is too full. But I can't open the trunk, because it's so jacked up.

I call Saab Roadside, even though my warranty is expired by two months. They're closed. CLOSED. Roadside is not open on Sundays. I read the manual...try everything. Since I once fixed my car in Montana via a phone conversation with a Saab mechanic hundreds of miles away, I feel I am uniquely qualified to fix this malfunction. I don't think it's electrical because it doesn't say SOFT TOP FAILURE, although it could be.

I start to give up, sit in the warehouse and stare at my freaked out, jacked up car. I still love this car, frustrated as I am. I can't pull up the backside top roof by myself, it's heavy and awkward. So I hang out until I flag down the guy on the forklift. I ask if he can help me. He looks at me sympathetically. He says he doesn't want to mess up my car any more than it already is, and puts on by. I don't know why, but I take it personally.

A scary, heavily-pierced and tattooed girl comes by with her belly hanging over her low riders. Since I'm basically at the mercy of strangers, I try to woo her with charm by complimenting one of her tattoos. It comes off totally inauthentic because she then asks, "Do you have tattoos?" To which I have to say, "Uh, not exactly."

I'm honestly too afraid to ask her to help the cause, but I push myself to ask her friend to lift the back roof of my car. It's tough to be in this kind of desperate situation, because it's imperative she treats it delicately--I'm convinced there's something in the joint that made it snap in the first place. So now I'm the weirdo who is micro-managing the Good Samaritan. I thank her profusely, and she wanders off like a kid who is disgusted with the candy I'm handing out on Halloween.

Pleasantries aside, I'm on a mission. I compare both latches, get grease all over my hands--so I'm legit. I clear out a single leaf. I don't think that could be the source of a breakdown, so I march on. And I find a silver spring that doesn't spring on the other side. I mess with it. I now understand what guys do for hours under hoods of cars. Tinkering is really just another word for patience. They look at things, compare them, mess with stuff. And unless the mechanics are wearing gloves these days, they get grease on their hands.

I stand back and assess the situation. I'm in the "bargaining phase" with God. I cross my fingers, close my eyes and wince as I press the button The roof thrusts back and sticks.

It's all over. I reach for my wallet, my AAA card. I'm not ready to accept defeat, but I can't hang out in a storage warehouse all day. I press down on the convertible roof button one more time with my left hand as I fumble for my cell phone in my purse with my right. I hear a hum, then a triple-beep. I turn my head (just for effect, image it in slow motion) and the convertible roof has, miraculously, sealed.

"I FIXED it!" I holler over to Tat Girl and Robin. They nod. I jet outta there, late to meet Kevin in Golden Gate Park Comedy Day in the Park. It goes straight to voicemail, so he's probably on stage. Ironically I pass Home Depot. Compulsively, I pull over (just for a minute) to get...lights and stuff.

An overly-helpful orange aproned guy looks at me kind of weird. "Is something wrong?" I ask. "You're staring." He shifts. "Nah, but you..." he motions to my head, "There's like dirt on your forehead." I wipe my brow with the back of my hand.

I'm surprisingly unphased. "That's just grease," I say, blowing my girly reputation in one fell swoop. "I was working on my car."


biggearhead said...

"I now understand what guys do for hours under hoods of cars. Tinkering is really just another word for patience. They look at things, compare them, mess with stuff. And unless the mechanics are wearing gloves these days, they get grease on their hands."

That is a pretty freakin' accurate description of what goes on out in my garage as well as millions of other garages, basements, carports, backyards, driveways, and roadsides all across America. I love it. (Although I seem to have temporarily lost either my patience or my lust for tinkering.)

jaynel said...

Seriously, your profile picture is a perfect exaggeration of what I'm talking about.

Which is the bigger issue, do you think, a car with a non shutting convertible roof (like mine) or a car without a hood (like yours)?

And the ventilator mask is also a VERY nice accessory I hadn't considered! Do they come in other colors?

biggearhead said...

Ahh, the profile pic. That was a sweet moment in life!

Which IS the bigger problem? I'd go with the convertible top, because at the time this photo was taken I knew right where the hood was and I knew how to put it back on. It was just off for convenience sake. I actually drove it around like that for a little while.

I believe the ventilator masks come in orange and green, though I prefer the simplicity of the white. To white really says, "I'm not breathing in toxic fumes at the moment."