Monday, February 25, 2008

RTFM

I think I was fleeced this weekend. Royally, royally fleeced. My car needed an oil change. So Chip and I hopped over to the local Express Lube. I go there quite often, if I have to get an oil change done by myself. It’s really close, wait times are not bad at all and unlike the reputation these places have, they seldom recommend crazy things to be done to the car. Since BigGeek is not in town, Chip and I traipsed down to the oil change store. It was of course a visual treat for Chip who was enthralled by the pneumatic drills and screwdrivers. People working under the car, hoods popped open and general gadgetry and grime. He ate lunch in the waiting area and then we went outside as my car was pulled into the bay. It had been about 20 minutes since we got there. “Not bad.” I thought. Another 20 minutes and we will be out of here.

Ten minutes later the mechanic beckoned me. He stuck a grimy finger in my car’s hood and brought an oil covered finger for me to inspect. “See how black it is? It needs to be clean.” He showed me clean, green oil. “What is it?” I asked. “It’s steering wheel fluid. Your car has 30,000 miles on it. You need to change it every 30,000 miles.” Hmmm. I do drive more than 250 miles a week. I thought. You gotta take good care of the car. Don’t want it breaking down. “Ok.” I said. “How much will it cost?” “Sixty Four nine-nine.” I told him to give me new steering wheel fluid.

Ten minutes later, the mechanic beckoned me again. “You are out of coolant.” He said. How could I be out of coolant? The computer in my car would have told me I was out of coolant. I thought. “You need to flush the coolant once every year.” “How could I be out of coolant?” I asked him. “Take a look.” True enough the blue coolant was scraping the bottom of the radiator. But my car hadn’t overheated. I could just drive up to Walmart or Automax and get some coolant, no? And pour it in. I have done it before. But then again. I drive more than 250 miles a week. I thought. You gotta take good care of the car. Don’t want it breaking down. “Ok.” I said. “How much will it cost?” “Seventy Four nine-nine” Is that how much coolant really cost? I didn’t remember. I thought coolant was just water and alcohol. May be I was mistaken. What with these new fangled engines and cooling and injection systems. It’s just so complicated. Our old rickety fiat was so easy to understand. Nobody could pull wool over my eyes with that one. Or even simpler? The Luna I had in college. Anybody ever drive a Luna? I always joked its engine was as big has a box of Laxmi brand asafetida (no kidding, it was really that small). Heck, our lawn mower has more horsepower than that one. And it broke down so often. The Luna. Not the lawn mower (that’s a Honda. It will never breakdown). At one point, the Luna’s spark plug would refuse to ignite when the engine was turned off for some time. Even with a brand new sparkplug. No idea why. But I carried a spanner and sandpaper in my book bag. Every time before I would kick start the lil beast, I would unscrew the spark plug, sand it down a bit with the sand paper, screw it back in and kick start. And it would start just fine. Simple engines. Simple times. Simple lives.

But to the coolant. “OK.” I said warily. “Flush the coolant.” But I was uncomfortable. It just didn’t sound right. I tried calling BigGeek, but he was asleep in a different time zone and his cell phone was switched off. I called a friend and explained what had just happened. “You think I got conned?” I asked him. “It’s too late anyways.. They are changing the fluid as I am talking to you.” He laughed. “Maybe you did. “ He said. coolants don’t drain out like that. If they did, it would be a leak.” That made sense. But it was too late. The deed was done. I was left holding a $200 receipt. Later that evening, I recounted the events. “Did I get conned?” “Yes you did.” BigGeek doesn’t mince words. “What should I have done? I know. I should have told him to just change the oil. I could have come back for the other stuff. Sigh. Sigh.” I was wringing my hands over the $200. “What should I have done?” BigGeek was laughing. “You should have read the manual.” Dang. I knew it. I should have Read That F***ing Manual. RTFM. The secret code Geeks live by. And also the secret weapon they assault us mere mortals by.

26 comments:

Preethi said...

hahaha... loved the RTFM.. have never done that earlier.. and yes you were conned you dear girl.. do we have that written on our foreheads? "CON ME"!!

Kodi's Mom said...

but I thought you were a geek too?! :) I've been there, done that more times than I want to admit. for me, it has always been the damn tires. oh well, at least you tried to take good care of your car. with a 250 mi drive, cant have it breaking down :)

rayshma said...

i'm as daft as they come on this one! also, tho i'm geeky enuf to RTFM... i can bet u that i'll still get conned...!

DotMom said...

preethi: I shuld stop wearing makeup when I go these places. That's what it is.

kodi's mom: Hey I thought so too :) A quasi one atleast. But BigGeek is the resident manual reader. And Chip is getting there. Butseriously, I have tostop being lazy and alteast do these things right!

rayshma: hahahha

noon said...

Oh man, that's too bad. I feel so bad for you...Gosh really too bad...
Those wolves...can eat you alive if you look away for a second!
Funny about RTFM - I had no idea what that acronym meant when B first told me - I told him to read the manual before assembling KB's some toy - don't remember which one - he said jokingly, "Come on, WRTFM" or some such thing - I had no idea what he meant - basically he was acting cool and saying he won't read the manual for just assembling a toy...
Am impressed with your Luna tricks!

I love Lucy said...

I have never ever read TFM as I have a living one in the form of M.But guess what,I need to go get an oil change and the state inspection done like yesterday.I am going to ask M to go along with me this time,learn the ropes and the lingo and then venture out solo the next around I guess!

Orchid said...

:)...u are not alone girl friend :)

GettingThereNow said...

He he he! I am TFM reader in this house :) But seriously - can you go back and fight them about the charges? Tell them you will give them enough bad press if they don't reduce the charges to something reasonable. Or something.

Mona said...

you know i done tried that, RingTFM and haha, it didn't make much sense to me.
only go to get these chores done when you know you can call the husbandman and check stuff with him - that's the lesson i learned.

dipali said...

Poor you, Dottie. I guess we learn what we gotta learn:)

Just Like That said...

LOL at RTFM.
I doubt if I' have resisted the con even if I had. Am hopeless at all these things.
I can figure if the car's out of petrol, yeah, and can fill it on my own!

Sue said...

That's why I married V, innit? So he could RTFM while I blamed him for whatever went wrong.

Anyway, garages are his business. The men at the garage don't like dealing with me either. :)

desigirl said...

$200?? I think you got off easy!! At least he didn't say you have to change the whole car!!! Let's face it, we've got the wrong equipment to walk into these places and come out unscathed. No amount of RTFM-ing can change biology!

GettingThereNow said...

@Desigirl: Oh NO!! I disagree with you. Your comment reeks of sexism :D We women can handle these situations just as well as any man would. We just need to be prepared. One trick is to NOT make any instant decisions. Tell the mechanic that you will think over it and come back for the service. I took my car for an oil change one day and the mechanic gave me a big list of "to-do" items. I just told him I'd get back to him, went over the list with J, we decided some stuff was legit and got it done and forgot about the rest. The mechanic didn't try that again with me. At least not yet :)

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

What cheap tactics these people use! Maybe we should get Fox News to investigate this!!???

Here's something we recently found out (fortunately not the hard way)! It's a long story with a happy ending...and, to make it short -
When these low-lives show us the colored stuff and scare us, it may not really be from our car!! They prolly just have this stuff lying around...

Really, how low can they get!??

DotMom said...

noon: WRTFM. I like that one! seriously.. you need to know your stuff about cars and such. Lesson learnt.

I love lucy: I think that's the problem with us. We always depend on that fallback. I am glad you plan to venture out solo.

orchid: sigh.. true, I guess.

GTN: the charges were posted on the board. Its not the charges.. I got stuff done I didn't need.

Mona: That what I uaed to do. But my new years resolution (of sorts) is to go and potter with stuff that is susally BigGeek's area. Everybody should know everything.

dipali: and in such a hard way.

sue: hahahhaha. if that works!

desigirl: I really don't think it has anything to do with biology. I always loved mech.engg classes in college but after BigGeek happened these things just slided to him. I gotta claim my turf. No one can me for a ride.

GTN: Thanks for that one!

gnd: are you serious.. because thats what I thought happened to coolant. they must have drained it out.

lacochran said...

Good post. I stopped going to JL because they *always* had something beyond the basic service that they recommended. Your instincts were good, you just didn't go with them. Next time, buy and fill your own coolant and watch to make sure it's not leaking. You can do this. Take heart. And find a local mechanic you trust.

ddmom said...

It took me a while to interpret RTFM. LOL!! LOL at your reply to Preethi's :)
Here the husband refuses to RTFM. Forget the manual, even the simple instruction sheet. We bought a glider when Dlittle was born. He installed it without reading the one page instruction sheet, installed the base on the back rest and the back rest on the chair. Both the pieces are cushioned and snap on types on the steel rods. I kept telling him something is not right as every time I would try to rock I would feel the balance shifting downwards the feeling of falling down. He refused to listen and insisted that was the "design" of the chair. bah!
Finally, I had to print out the sheet from the web site and just reverse the 2 pieces :)

Mira's mom said...

Hi,

Mira's mom here - a new mommy to your blog. Well, never drove a luna - but I had a lovely black colored kintetic which I cherish till date. On the conning bit think India would have been worse. No?

Moppet's Mom said...

Aww, it's ok. Once in a while, eh?

karmickids said...

Babe, you went to the station to get the car serviced???? I bow to thee...for me, I leave that mammoth task to the menfolk.

DotMom said...

lacochran: Thanks for stopping by.. I shoud really trust those instincts, shouldn't I?

ddmom: YAY to you. you rock ddmom!

Mira's mom: Welcome new blogger :) I eventually got a kinetic and yeah it never broke down (it was a honda:) ) I am sure conning is rampant in India too. But with simpler engines and simpler vehicles and a teen who was sorta interested in them, it was hard to get conned.

Moppet's Mom: its the ego :(

karmic: LOL. that's my new years resolution, tu blur the gender roles :)

Anonymous said...

I used to take my truck to Tyson's Dodge because it's close to work. Took it in once for an oil change. Wound up paying $700 for extraneous stuff. Ouch. 4000 miles later took it back for an oil change. $700 again plus they recommended that I rotate my less-than-a-week-old tires. Called 'em on that one. Still, I'm stubborn so I went back one more time for an oil change and transmission flush. They called back to tell me I needed $700 worth of service. I yelled at them to not touch my truck, that I'd be down to get it right away. How obvious can you be?
Chris
www.ChrisMoreau.com

DotMom said...

Chris: That's some bill you got! We used to take our cars to Eurasian in Tysons. Very reliable. But they do only European and Asian cars. Also, they are a bit further than where we live now. Would highly recommend them though.

Usha said...

uh oh...never mind, put it down to experience. That way it doesn't seem such a high price.
Would a hug help?

bird's eye view said...

I loved the Laxmi brand asafoetida - am trying not to laugh out loud in office! But dang these mechanic types - they always try to fleece us mechanically challenged women. Once I shelled out Rs. 3 K to have my car polished with some silicone polish which would never wear off...needless to say we were back to scrubbing the vehicle by end of the week.