Check Engine

A yellow light illuminated on the control panel of my car. It read “Service Engine Soon.”

Some car designer didn’t pay attention to his English teacher’s lesson on ambiguity. I tell my students to embrace ambiguity. They all want fast easy answers, and those don’t exist in good literature. They should, however, exist in cars.

Is there going to be a light that reads, “Service Engine Really Soon”? What about “Service Engine NOW!” Red, not yellow. Yellow does not convey the necessary urgency.

Because when the yellow “Service Engine Soon” light came on, I didn’t panic, but took my car to the dealership the following morning. That’s pretty soon, right? Not soon enough. My car needs repairs beyond what a “Service Engine Soon” light should have predicted. These car repairs required a red warning light, “YOU ARE COMPLETELY FUCKED.”

Also, did you know you’re supposed to put oil in a car?

I’m kidding.

The insurance inspectors weren’t, though.

“You know you’re supposed to have the oil changed, don’t you?” the only thing he left out was a condescending “darlin’ or little lady” at the end. I sort of wish I hadn’t replied, “I’m not a fucking idiot,” but I’m not always at my most composed when I’m being condescended to by insurance agents.

The inspector from Condescending Asshole Auto and Home Insurance is slowly and meticulously trying to figure out what has gone wrong with my engine, but they are sure that whatever it is, they don’t cover it because it’s expensive. It reminds me of when a relative of mine was struck by a car while crossing the street. She had an uninsured motorist policy through her own insurance that covered her medical bills, but the payout was huge. As a result, the insurance company found loopholes to deny the claim, then dragged out litigation for five years, so instead of getting the full amount of the policy, she had to pay a third of it to an attorney. Sure, she won the suit, but only after five years.

From a layperson’s perspective, an insurance company has no incentive to pay for anything. If their goal is to make profits, then they must operate like a gym that sells as many memberships as possible and counts on members not showing up to workout because the gym would be packed beyond capacity if everyone with a membership showed up! As long as those dues come in every month, they make a profit. My insurance company is more than happy to take my money every month, but as soon as I need something from them, it’s suspicion and accusations.

Odie and I saved for the summer. Our districts have finally gone from a ten month pay cycle to an eleven month. Seven more years of collective bargaining, and we might vote on making it twelve months (fingers crossed), but slow down. No one is talkin ’bout a revolution (in a whisper). We only have to put away 1/11 of every pay check instead of 1/10 (I know, I know, I promised there’d be no fractions). Secretly, I was hoping I would be able to avoid summer school. Take Viva out of day care instead and spend some real quality time with her before she starts kinder in the fall. Disneyland for her fifth birthday, just her and me. That’s not possible now.

I’ve been sad, but I feel like I’ve been sad for a long time. My daughters watch Frozen at least once a day, and I relate more to the fear-filled Elsa than I do to plucky Anna. “No escape from the storm inside of me.” I’m overwhelmed by my confusion and anger. And I can’t hit that fucking note in “Let it Go.” Is a mezzo-soprano or contralto Disney heroine too much to ask for?

I guess there’s a chance the insurance agent will call and say, “Congratulations, Mrs. Odie, the car clearly has a defective engine and we’ll cover the repairs 100%!” then it’s “Hello, Disneyland!” But I’ll start working on my summer school syllabus anyway.



About Mrs Odie

Friendly Pedant; Humble Genius
This entry was posted in Essays/Commentary, Parenting, Teaching and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Check Engine

  1. greencanary says:

    I brought my car in for service this past weekend. I informed the mechanic that I wanted a secondary warning light for each existing warning light. The gas light comes on, I consider that a suggestion that I should get gas at some point. My proposed secondary light goes on and it means that I need to get gas within ten miles or I’m going to be stranded on the side of the road. I want a countdown to disaster. The mechanic’s response to my totally rational proposal? “Thank God you’re not an engineer… The primary light IS your countdown.” I was not pleased.

    Other thing, I once had a mattress completely die on me and the company wouldn’t honor their lifetime warranty because I had spilled Diet Coke on it. All of the coils in the middle of the mattress either gave up and collapsed or never existed to begin with. The mattress company sent out a specialist to look at my cavernous mattress and he acknowledged that it was a clear “manufacturing defect.” When the company wouldn’t replace the mattress, I argued with them vociferously. “You stained the pillow top and that voids the warranty,” they said. “What does Diet Coke on the pillow top have to do with your inability to properly install the innerspring coils?” They acknowledged that they were two independent things, clearly, but that they became faultless by my drinking caffeinated beverages in bed.

    Sometimes I don’t like people.

Comments are closed.