Shit, gimme a new passport. I might be needing it. Got me a Four Wheel Drive.

The Jeep runs great, it ran great, I’m hoping it will always run great. A few weeks ago the little idiot light came on and now they don’t just blink red at you, they spell out more specifically what might be wrong. ‘Service 4WD System’ sounded ominous. It was. The first Jeep shop I went to spent almost a full day to figure out what it needed. Took a couple of phone calls from me to the service writer who’s voice mail promised that he returns all voice messages promptly. He doesn’t. Turns out the next day when I finally had him paged after getting his VM three or four times, he doesn’t exactly return messages that quickly. Didn’t even pick up voice messages, on this day. Turns out he didn’t know what was wrong with my car, on this day, because the mechanic was on lunch and there was no way he’d find out until the mechanic got back, now was there? So he doesn’t return voice messages and has no way to get the mechanic to tell him what’s wrong with my 4WD system. When he does find out, it’s almost two thousand dollars of work. A new transfer case.

When I picked up the car he says, oh, I got your voice message. It was almost three o’clock. I said what do I owe you? Nothing he said. Didn’t think so. I’ll get a second opinion.

Back at the dealer where I bought the Cherokee Laredo, used, with a 75K mile warranty, it took them about twelve hours to tell me the same thing. Transfer case. But they knocked six hundred off the price when I whined. See, I bought this 75K mile warranty, I reminded them. And then just a week after I started getting those so friendly phone reminders from the peppy automated male voice that I COULD renew the warranty, and now of course was the perfect time to do so, the IDIOT light comes on for me, the IDIOT. Because I didn’t renew the warranty? Maybe? Maybe the light going on coincides with a big database that begins calling customers who don’t renew warranties. Is it possible the whole thing is connected in some auto-manufacturer conglomerate Daimler-Benz-Chrysler-Jeep software, programmed to punch up idiot lights, make reminder calls and zap you with fifteen hundred dollar repairs if you don’t ante up?

So how much 4WD’ing do I do, to justify this kind of maintenance headache? Not that much. But it’s a cool ride, a stripped down, silver painted, charcoal interior urban cruiser, and I can ride out any earthquakes, floods, fires and other catastrophes in comfort and safety thanks to that ‘Trail Rated’ badge on the side. Says I can pretty much go anywhere I damn well want to.

Meanwhile I get the 4WD Hardware parts catalog I emailed for, a four color thirty page goody list of Dick Cepek and Mickey Thompson custom wheels, huge Goodrich tires and Super Swampers with tread the size of beer cans. Maybe I’ll just order some new floor mats. And that camo travel mug. That roof rack looks good, the one where I can stuff a mattress, a small television and a surfboard for those extended beach excursions. Gonna need a winch too, when I’m stuck down in the Grand Canyon and that bull elk is charging and I have to pull it all up along the wall and bivouac the whole damn thing from a tree. Some extra strength tensile steel cable, make sure we don’t plunge down into the whitewater, submerge some poor raft trip floaters and get all that grey hair wet and rinse away the hair coloring. Hey, do those Super Swamper tires double as float pontoons? No? Just carry spares, on top of the mattress stuffed into the custom roof rack and the whole thing will float down the Colorado, come out into Mexico somewhere under the border bridge? Got it. I’m there. One more thing? That steering column extension thing, the one that takes the steering wheel right up onto that roof-rack mattress with the television and the Super Swampers stacked up into a nice seat, can I get some pedal extensions too? Ride up there on the Super Swampers, steering and yee-hawwing up there high enough to ward off the critters and banditos and border patrol agents?

Shit, I better get my passport replaced. Lost it in a whorehouse in Tijuana a couple of years ago. Lost it with enough cash in my pockets to start a damn shrine down there.

Probably some maid found it the next morning, or that whore, saying Holy Mother Mary, it’s a miracle, it's a sign. Something like that.

No comments: