Episode 7: “One Expensive Cat” in The Neverending Saga of the Most Beat Up 20 Month Old Car in the World

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Episode 7: “One Expensive Cat” in The Neverending Saga of the Most Beat Up 20 Month Old Car in the World

In the past month or two I’ve noticed that the parking garage in my building has some cats. Stray cats I assume. I’ve seen them more than a few times, but I’ve also seen their handiwork in the form of little prints all over my (previously spotless) car. On Sunday Amy and I decided to go to the Robinson’s May that is less than a mile from my place. As I was turning the car around in the garage I saw one of the stray cats. I lurched the car forward at it to scare it a bit and ranted about the cats to Amy.

Minutes later as we drove down Oxnard we heard “meow……meow…..meow.” We looked at each other with a “did you hear that too?” look.. After some discussion we realized we were both hearing a cat’s meow, and it was coming from the car. Amy speculated that it was in the trunk; I thought maybe it was a stray clinging to the bottom for its life. We were almost to Robinson’s May already anyway, so when we got there I popped the hood.

We stood there in amazement at the sight. Wedged between the right side of the V6 and some tubing was an undulating mass of white fur. Amy tried yelling “get out” a few times to no avail. I decided to try a more direct tactic.

I previously reported that part of the plans for fixing my car didn’t go so well. That part was the lit rear “finisher” – a chrome plate that was affixed just above the license plate area. In the center it has the phrase “Mazda6” in red LED lighting. The problem that was once the shop installed it and hooked it up; they discovered that it wouldn’t work. The general theory is that the LEDs never worked, and I bought a broken piece from ebay (damn you, ebay!). A week later I went back to the shop and had them remove the piece from the car. This piece was still in the trunk Sunday and was the only thing that could remotely be considered for use as a “cat-poker.”

I poked the cat with the finisher and it scrambled down deeper into the ductwork of the engine, somewhere near the lower firewall. Then I went to the driver’s seat and turned the car back on. As soon as I did the cat leaped out and scampered away. Amy saw this and started waving her arms. I didn’t notice at first and only caught the back half of the cat as it skittered underneath a nearby car in the parking lot.

We had a good laugh and went inside Robinson’s May.

Hours later I was on my way (alone) to Amy’s mother’s house for dinner. I was on the phone with my mother when I heard a curious whirring sound. The whirring became a chugging and my dash started to light up with warning lights. I dropped the call and took the next exit from the 134 east. I was just outside Glendale, so I took the Figueroa exit. I turned right and hoped for a gas station or something. I found the only freeway exit in Los Angeles with no gas station..or buildings…or anything. The car was sputtering to a stop so I turned it off right in the road (which seemed deserted) and opened the hood. The noise I’d heard was due to the engine coolant bubbling up and leaking out. I turned the car back on and headed back the other way. There was a gas station soon enough near Colorado Street. I sat in the car mulling my options. I called Amy and told her I couldn’t come for dinner. At first I said I’d drop the car off at the dealer tomorrow morning.

As I got back on the 134 heading west the noises got worse. So bad in fact that I decided I should go straight to the Mazda dealer in Glendale (after all I was only a few miles away). I parked the car at the dealer and started making calls to see what I was going to do (how I’d get home). In a few hours Amy came and picked me up. We went back to my place and got another Papa Johns Pan Pizza. Man, those really are good pizzas! Amy had rented movies for herself to watch through the week earlier that day, so she brought those. We decided to watch Vanity Fair with Reese Witherspoon (most of you already know my feelings about her). How Roger Ebert gave this movie four stars I’ll never know. We both agreed it was really boring and somewhat pointless. I can’t imagine what the book must be like. All I thought at the end was “boy, what a slut..why should I care?”

The next morning we woke up at 6am and Amy drove me to the dealership. They said they’d call me in the afternoon and pay for a rental so I could get to work since it was under warranty (I was mum about the cat). I got to Enterprise quick enough, but had to wait in a long line. Once it was time to choose a car I was informed that I HAD to drive an F-150. Apparently the Star dealerships had changed their rental policy and require renters to drive Ford products. I protested, as I didn’t think a truck that sits four feet off the ground would ever fit into my subterranean (homesick alien) garage. After a few tense moments they offered me a Focus that had just came back and had not been cleaned. I took it. The catch? The gas tank was dry; the little light was even on and blinking. The Enterprise guy told me they’d repay me for gas when I returned the car. I sped off to work and ended up getting there just a hair after 9am. (my day usually starts at 7:15ish)

The repair work took two days. I only put enough gas in the rental for one day, so I decided to do a Kramer on Tuesday and try to drive it all day without putting gas in it. Despite getting caught behind a flipped-car accident on the 118 I did it and turned the car with an empty tank just like I got it. Obviously the guy who promised to compensate me for gas wasn’t working when I returned the car, after complaining an irate employee offered me a “free upgrade” the next time I have to rent a car (which I plan to do some time next year as the dash noise that I’ve complained about in the past has returned and is worsening). Whatever, I just wanted my car back.

At the Mazda dealership I was informed that they had to put a drive belt back on its cogs (wheels, whatever) and replace a “cooling fan.” The fan was why it took two days because it had to be ordered. Turns out the fan is a $600 part. The dealer chalked everything up to warranty and I didn’t have to pay a penny. Keeping my mouth shut saved me at least $800 (figure in the labor hours and rental car costs on top of the $600 part).

One stray cat did $600+ damage to my car.

In unrelated news I feel like I’m getting sick again. My body aches and I’m getting head congestion. Not surprising seeing as how Susan, Mike, and Sherry at work are all already sick. I remember a time though when I’d get sick maybe once a year if that. This new little bug is coming on the heels of one that only truly left my system no more than three weeks ago.

At a time like this it would be nice if one could stay home sick and watch the biggest game of the weekend (known to many as simply “The Game”) on tv. However, our local ABC affiliate in Los Angeles has instead decided to air the monumentally important (please tell me you can smell my sarcasm) Cal vs. Stanford game. Do you think the ABC affiliate in Dayton will be showing Toledo vs. Whoever, or Miami of Ohio vs. Whoever? You are going to have more people watching The Game at watching parties this weekend in LA than you’ll have people watching Cal vs. Stanford AT THE GAME. Outrageous! Yes, this is the same ABC affiliate that cut the feed from the OSU opener halfway through the game because they didn’t think anyone was interested.

I’m going to take as much medicine as I can so I can cheer on with the crowd at the bar. There is speculation that a Montes might show up, but this is only rumor at this point.


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