M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Tuesday, December 02, 2003  

Closing the Deal

For a web writer, car trouble isn’t always a completely bad thing. God knows I’ve gotten plenty of mileage from bitching about my wheels (see what I did there?).

Of course, it’s still inconvenient and kind of a pain. But there’s one kind of car trouble that’s a web writer’s best friend. And that, of course, is other people’s car trouble.

When Trash’s brother and his wife came up to Minneapolis to help us paint our bedroom the weekend before last, they drove her car instead of his. They don’t normally do this. He hates driving her car--a sporty little red number that he trusts as far as he can carry it--under any circumstances. Normally he insists on driving his Jeep, and that’s what they generally come to Minnesota in.

My sister-in-law knew something was up a couple of weeks ago when he asked her if he could borrow her car. This is like somebody asking to be beaten. Especially if the person in question has heretofore displayed an aversion to beatings.

Much of BIL’s change in attitude towards their respective cars came about on a day when he opened the driver’s door to his Jeep and it fell off. The door, I mean. In his hand. Normally when somebody pulls off a car door in the movies, it’s a display of superhuman strength. In this case, it was a display of a broken hinge, and absent superhuman strength, a car door is heavy. So my brother-in-law, who is strong, but not superhumanly so, found himself in the position of having to swing somewhere between one and two hundred pounds of glass and steel back into its precision-engineered latched position with nothing to guide it but a single (newly bent) door hinge. Which he managed, but one looks less suave doing that than pressing a little button on your key chain that results in a jaunty chirp.

BIL figured this was probably a good time to take care of a few other minor problems with his car, as long as he was going to have to get it repaired anyway. Off to the parts store. He called his uncle (who by an astonishing coincidence is also Trash’s uncle), who is also having trouble with his pickup. The pickup in question is a different model from the engine inside it, so getting parts for it can be a trial. Brother-in-law and Uncle-in-law spent much of the day driving to every auto parts store in the greater Des Moines area. Which is roughly equivalent to driving to every office building in Midtown Manhattan, but let’s try to keep things moving.

Every place they went, UIL would have to get out of the shotgun seat so BIL could clamber over and follow him. Occasionally, there would be a moment when BIL would, out of habit, reach for his door handle, and feel his heart drop toward the pavement one second behind the door. Then Uncle-in-law would have to get out, walk around, and lift the door from outside to help him get it closed again. And Brother-in-law would still have to clamber over the seat to get out the other side.

After all this driving, eventually they had to stop for gas. BIL pulled up to the pump. UIL waited for BIL to get out and pump the gas. BIL waited for UIL to get out so BIL could get out and pump the gas.

"You gonna let me out?" he eventually had to ask.

The height of a Jeep’s window makes a Dukes of Hazzard-style window entry impractical. So did the suit BIL was wearing when he made the biggest sales call of his career the next day. Being a guy whose favorite movie is Glengarry Glen Ross, BIL likes to make a positive impression on prospects.

Although the door was still broken, BIL had been able to replace a couple of brake parts. Sadly, he was unaware that it is customary to clean off the packing grease before installing them. This didn’t prevent them from functioning, mind you. Packing grease burns off, after all, especially if it’s on brake parts and one is applying the brakes on the way into the parking lot of an important potential client. That it tends to burn off in a cloud of smoke reminiscent of the atmospheric entry effect in Independence Day is in no way a safety hazard. It does, however, tend to make the driver hope that the potential client’s window isn’t on that side of the building.

As does the need to clamber over the center console and exit via the passenger door. BIL has been experimenting with ways to do this and still look cool. Right now the favorite method is lumbering over, pretending to search for something in the glove compartment, and then getting out on the passenger side because, hey, you’re there anyway. You know. Like people do every day. Like you did this morning, probably.

Someone from inside the building was holding the door open when BIL got out of his car.

"Everything okay?" the guy asked.

No word yet on whether the deal is closed.

posted by M. Giant 3:20 PM 0 comments


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