My adventures in bureaucracy

I don’t have anything interesting to tell you today, but since Steve DeLassus sends me at least a weekly dose from people who think their laundry is interesting, I’ll tell you about my day yesterday.
My Dodge Neon died in my driveway a couple of days ago. Yesterday I paid a towing company to haul it off to the dealer so I could turn it in. The warranty was up 3,911 miles ago. Figures. (Now I feel better about having paid $700 extra to extend my Honda Civic’s warranty to 7 years/100,000 miles.)

That will be the last time I ever lease a car, by the way. Leases make sense when you want to always have a new car. I don’t. I can think of a few things that would make me happier than to still be driving that same Civic in 2018. But it’s not a very long list.

The cause of death turned out to be a broken o-ring, which caused the spark plug chambers to fill with oil. So I can’t exactly count it against the car. Fixing it still isn’t cheap though.

After watching my Neon get towed away, I took my new car off for its St. Louis-is-too-polluted emissions test. If St. Louis really wanted to fix its pollution problems, they’d extend the light-rail system out into the Missouri suburbs where people actually live, but too many people are convinced people (they usually use another word that I won’t repeat) will ride Metrolink in from East St. Louis and steal their big-screen TVs. More on that in a second.

My Civic failed the test. My gas cap was polluting too much. Yeah. Vehicles that get 12 miles to the gallon on the highway are fine, but my 38 MPG Civic with its factory gas cap causes too much pollution to be acceptable.

So I had to drive to Autozone (polluting all the way), spend $5.91 on a new gas cap for a year-old car, then drive back to the emissions station (polluting less all the way) and sit in line for 30 minutes with my engine running (does that pollution count?), and get tested again to prove the world was rid of the scourge of my substandard gas cap.

Yes sir. We’re more concerned in St. Louis about the damage caused by faulty gas caps on ULEV vehicles than we are about our lack of an effective light-rail system. But the good news is I now have three of the four pieces of paper I need to get my vehicle licensed legally. And you thought Missouri’s temporary 30-day tags were a courtesy. No sir. It’ll take you pretty close to that long to navigate the bureaucracy.

And finally I had someone come out to look at my hot water heater. Based on the serial number, it’s old enough to drive and probably got its license last month. (That might explain a couple of those mysterious dings in the Neon.) He replaced a couple of 16-year-old parts, which will hopefully stop its leaking, which will hopefully cause my monthly gas bill to descend from the stratosphere. If I were paying the bill, I’d have just replaced the thing, but my home warranty means someone else makes the decisions.

It was a fine day. Or something.

5 thoughts on “My adventures in bureaucracy

  • May 29, 2003 at 8:29 am
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    And life goes on…

    Nice article Dave Barry, er, Farquhar. :-}

  • May 29, 2003 at 9:48 am
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    I absolutely hated ๐Ÿ™ putting my 1982 Subaru GL5 out to pasture several years ago, with only 210,000 miles on it, and the engine running extremely well. It was just that it wanted a third clutch, new brakes all around, and yet another set of CV joints / split axles. The amazing thing was the low emission levels on that car. Every time I took it to the Charlotte-is-too-polluted-also inspection stations they couldn’t believe the results, and either accused me of tinkering with something I shouldn’t, or they re-ran the tests on another machine. For some reason known only to less-than-competent mechanics required to enforce the mindless bureaucracy, it’s just not possible that drivers keep their older cars tuned up and running decently.

    Sometimes, I really miss condensors, ignition coils, rotors, and carburetors. Now, it’s all sensors, switches, circuits, and mystical “automotive computer” stuff. Which only makes it more expensive to maintain, whether you do it yourself, or pay someone else.

    I guess I should just be glad there’s not a Micro$quish o/s running things in my car.

  • May 29, 2003 at 3:08 pm
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    Actually, there is a “Microsoft” of automotive computers. The industry standard OBD-2 software is proprietary, and the feature-set, error codes, etc. were all highly-guarded until a court recently forced them to release them to licensed mechanics or something like that. I’m not sure on the details.

    In the Dallas-is-too-polluted-because-Bush-is-freakin-retarded inspection… errr… I forgot my point. Bush sucks. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • May 31, 2003 at 12:20 pm
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    I don’t know that I would want a “big-screen TV” that would actually fit on MetroLink. I (who live near enough to the generally disdained population of East St. Louis to feel the effects of the disdain at times) rode it for a week to attend a convention at America’s Center. They really pack ’em in, sometimes.

    It is sad that they don’t spend a little more money to extend the light rail system. I guess people feel better about spending their money themselves, on car payments and a million inspections, rather than trusting Bi-State Development Agency with their tax dollars “off the top,” as it were.

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