March, not April, is the cruelest month.
Or the most annoying.
Actually, it’s about equal with all the other months.
I know. I haven’t been blogging at all for a while, except for Wednesdays. I have reasons that I might get into in some other post–maybe tomorrow, or Saturday, because it’s just a big pile of suck and I’m supposed to have themed days to help with the routine.
Things happened today.
And March sucks.
March sucks because that’s when my tags expire. This wasn’t a big deal last year, because they just sent me a new sticker. This year, I needed an emissions test.
So I started to panic about that in…December of last year, actually.
Why? Because I have a Jeep. A 1995 Jeep Cherokee.
A 1995 Jeep Cherokee with incontinence issues and a few too many factory original parts.
So, what the fuck can I do? The only thing I can on short notice: change the oil.
…and, of course, I left it ’till last minute. I changed the oil at dawn–you know, that time of the day when the sun comes up, and the temperature…drops four degrees while I’m waiting for the oil to drain.
Oil does not like to drain when it’s cold.
But, whatever. Changing oil is easy. Getting at that damned Wix is annoying, especially since it’s tucked away under two parts that like to break and my cap wrench is a flighty little bitch….
I wish that thing were slightly deeper.
Anyway…oil changed. It’s all I can do, because I don’t have anything else.
We don’t spend any time on the freeway getting there–the place isn’t even that far away, so the Jeep doesn’t even get all that warmed up. So, of course, it fails initially. But it fails within the instant-retest range, and….
Holy shit, a Fast Pass?
My XJ? My rattling, cranky, old-ish 4.0? A Fast Pass on the second test?
That’s fucking amazing.
They pull it forward and call us out to pay and…Jeep won’t start.
Neutral Safety Switch I didn’t get around to replacing must be acting up aga–wait. No. No lights. No dome light. No radio.
Oh my god, they killed my battery somehow. Is my alternator going?
I ask for help.
I swear that guy actually had TrollFace. His response: “Not our fault. Get it out of the way.”
…fine. Fuck you guys. Time to run FakeCompetency.exe and be pleased I keep almost all my tools in the car.
And hope that they didn’t stop it on a slight upward slope, because that would suck.
Slight downward slope! Score! I can push while Gremlin steers. And I actually could push, so that’s kinda neat.
So we get it to the side of the road leaving the testing facility, park it, and I start digging around under the hood. First stop: negative battery terminal, because that’s where things have gone wrong before.
It seems tight, but who cares what it ‘seems’. Let’s test that shim, because that’s a shitty aftermarket hack that I really shouldn’t need–except I do because that cable is pretty much shot and I really need to get a new one at some point….
It looks shitty, so I dig around in my flat black ‘random tools and bits’ box for a spare. I replace that, and notice something odd when I reconnect it: no slightly scary spark. There’s always a scary spark. Well, almost always. I think. There’s always something letting me know that I’m completing a terrifying circuit that probably wants me dead.
What the…so maybe the battery is dead?
No. I refuse to believe this. It can’t be. It was fine. And the alternator had better fucking be fine.
Okay. Big scary positive cable next?
Big scary positive cable ne–oh what the fuck, this thing is terrible. Wow. Did a bunch of nano-sized copper gnomes come in and harvest little bits of it? Holy shit.
What if I wiggle it like I do my headphones when they start getting stupid.
So, the Jeep started.
Hooray. Anti-theft device! Or…something.
Off to the DMV, then. Because it’s nearly the end of the month, and I don’t want to risk not having that stupid sticker because the mail got lost or confused or just went at the speed of government.
Of course, we didn’t go to the lovely streamlined rapid DMV–we went to the one that stole seating from a church, and seems to be using a smarter version of the VA’s number-queue system.
Actually? This was pretty cool. You input your zip code and your mobile number, and tell it why you’re here. It gives you a ticket, and–here’s the cool part–it texts you. The system texts you. Live. ‘You are now fourth in line’. ‘You are next.’
It actually texted me when they called me, letting me know that my number had been called, and that I was being called to a specific window.
Pretty awesome, huh?
Well, it fucking fails when you introduce the Important Business Fuckhead element.
There I am, scurrying over to my appointed window for my little slice of bureaucracy, and Important Business Fuckhead sits down. In my chair. At my window. To eat my little slice of bureaucracy.
See, he needed to be seen first at the first available window because his number had been called, but he didn’t know where he was supposed to go. Important Business Fuckhead didn’t have a phone. And didn’t pay attention to the big damn screens every few windows that flashed up ‘NUMBER C123 TO WINDOW Q!’
Listen, Important Business Fuckhead, because, apparently, you just need to learn how to do that anyway. Listen. I waited thirty minutes for this shit because I had the gall to be here for a ‘B’ task instead of a ‘C’ task, which moved along at a call every minute. Thirty minutes of the ‘scream for no reason’ child chorus.
I didn’t actually say anything, of course. The lady behind the screen told him to get up, because she was going to serve me first. Because she called me, and I was Obeying The Rules.
I also had all of my paperwork in order–my emissions test, my mailed renewal reminder card, even proof of insurance if I needed it.
I didn’t. I just needed to explain the colour of the vehicle [um, sun-damaged, mostly], and report on the condition of my plates [two years old, and doing okay].
I asked if there was a law dictating the proper application of The Sticker–do I remove the old one, or do I just paste this thing on top? And I asked which new card I was supposed to sign [neither now? Okay…]. And I got the fuck out of there.
We made it most of the way home, too. Stopped at the auto parts store to get replacement battery cables, and…Jeep wouldn’t start. Really, really wouldn’t start. Like, went from ‘nothing’ to ‘click’ to ‘fuck you, I’m going back to sleep’–just constant slow cranking. Because I couldn’t wiggle it into that just-so position.
So, I am now awake and trying to research the process of ‘replacing battery cables’.
…fuck emissions testing. Fuck the DMV. And fuck you, winter, for coming back for a random visit and making everything very, very difficult.