Arousing the Attention of Law Enforcement, and Vehicle Customization “Don’ts”

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I try to avoid interactions with law enforcement.  I think most rational people do.  I’m intimidated easily enough, and I really don’t want to be bothered anyway, so I try to just live my life, quietly obeying the rules and generally blending into the wall.

I learned a disturbing truth a few mornings ago.  I should know better, too, but I wasn’t paying attention.

On my car (the illustrious Corolla S, with the 6 speed manual, which is an awesome ride) you can just leave the lights and fog lights on (which I usually do) and they will turn off when one turns the ignition off.  But for some bizarre reason I turned the lights off.  When you turn the lights off, the DRLs (headlights only) still come on.  Usually that’s not a real issue.

The headlights are HIDs and are insanely bright, so I didn’t notice that the parking lights or tail lights weren’t on, as I went off on my merry way through the cop obstacle course between my house and the Y.  I’ve been known to see as many as six cops between my house and the Y (1.8 miles.)  This is particularly odd, considering I make this trip between 5 and 5:15AM.  I know there are quite a few speed traps in that small stretch, so I plan accordingly and keep at a painfully slow 35MPH to avoid an unplanned and expensive speeding ticket.

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So I was completely shocked when I had a cop light me up.  I know I was only doing 35 or maybe a bit less, so what in the flying thunder could this guy want with me?

I did remember the most important thing from my CCW class- let the officer see your hands, because he knows you carry the minute he runs your plates.

So as I stuck my hands out the window, all I could say was, “My weapon is in the trunk.” Which it was.  I’m not about lying to cops.

He asks for my driver’s license, and then asked me if I knew my tail lights were out.  Then it dawned on me- I looked at the dash and realized for some reason I’d turned off the lights and was just running on DRLs.  Oh. Shit.

So the officer- who thankfully wasn’t being a douche bag about it, even though he would have had the right- ran my license.  Seeing I had no record, or outstanding warrants, or reason to believe I was running a meth lab out of a late model Corolla, let me go once he verified that yes, my lights all work- when they’re turned on.

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At least I didn’t get a speeding ticket.

I have to wonder if I’d been treated differently had I been younger, male, or belonged to a different ethnic group.  I know Steve-o was randomly pulled over several times when he had his Audi.  The demographics didn’t look good- a 20 year old kid driving a late model Audi A4 in impeccable condition, in an area where the average young 20 something is unemployed,  on drugs, and not averse to stealing things.  I think the cops just couldn’t believe that someone of Steve-o’s demographic actually worked and earned money to buy a nice car via legitimate means.  In their defense, considering most of his age cohorts, I understand their incredulity.

 

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So… the place of notoriety for those of Steve-o’s generation is the “Busted” paper- getting your mug shot plastered all over Central Ohio.  The list of names (center) were all the bizarre names I found in just that one issue of the “Busted” paper.  Anyone with the last name “Hunt” should really have their head examined before naming their child “Michael.”  Another one I found funny was the name “Ciera,” as if her first name should be “Cutlass.” And the name “Crystal,” no matter how you spell it, leads me to want to call her “Crystal Meth.”  Note to self: do NOT use the “Busted” paper as a reference source for potential baby names.  Although I’m sure some people do.

The badly painted (likely with a house roller) Cincinnati Bengals tribute Civic is a more typical vehicle for someone of Steve-o’s age to be seen driving.  Either that or this distressed Accord:

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This looks eerily like Steve-o’s first car, a ’92 Accord with about 400K on it.

As soon as he could afford it, he traded it on a ’95 Integra- but he’s had plenty of cars since then.

 

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I mean, right MEOW.

Steve-o got to sit in the back of a cruiser (twice) while the cop verified that his temp tag was legit right after he bought the Audi.  Not long after he got his regular plates he got pulled over (again) and the K9 officer who pulled him over thought it appropriate to go through the Audi with the drug dog.  I doubt if they found a cough drop or a gum wrapper, (Steve-o is one of those people who doesn’t eat, smoke or do anything in the car that might leave a mess) but the dog did leave behind some hair and slobber that provoked Steve-o to pay for a $150 detail to remove.  In some ways I’m glad he traded the Audi for a (newer, yes, but less ostentatious) Jetta.   He’s not been pulled over once in the Jetta.  Apparently that’s not as much of a head turner as the Audi.

Do I agree with profiling?  Not necessarily, and I realize that if Steve-o appeared to be anything other than what can only be called “super white” that a simple, “have a seat in the cruiser” could have turned far uglier.  Cops are human too.  I know I profile. I know I hit that door lock switch extra fast in certain parts of town. I’m not saying it’s right to do it, but everyone does.

 

 

So Easily Entertained, Laments of the 13%, and Country Music IS Noise Pollution

Those of us in the automotive industry aren’t exactly noted for being paragons of virtue, sad to say.

Last night I realized just how easily entertained I can be, and it’s sort of sad.  Jerry has been complaining about the slight vibration in the front end of his truck since the tires were rotated, so I had to follow him over to the dealership last night so their service department can tell him the same things I told him.  1. You have a 4WD truck.  It’s not going to ride like a car. 2. I personally don’t care much for Dunlop tires- at least not the ones Toyota uses as factory equipment tires.  They are OK if you drive the vehicle every day, but we are talking about a 2010 Tacoma with 9,000 miles on it.  When these tires sit, they cup.  When tires cup, you get vibration.  I had to deal with complaints about Dunlop tires (granted these weren’t the same exact model tires) 20 years ago when they were original equipment on Camrys- and the ones who bitched about them always had low mileage cars that would sit for long periods of time.   Most people aren’t fussy enough to even notice a slight vibration like that in a truck, but Jerry is sensitive enough to smell the fart someone just cut up in Moose Dick, Alaska (which is a hell of a long way from beautiful Central Ohio, for those ill-acquainted with geography.)  He notices anything even slightly off with that truck, even if it is well within the realm of normal tolerance.  I pity the service advisor who’s dealing with him.

Maybe I should not take sadistic enjoyment in tormenting car salesmen, especially when buying a new car is about the furthest thing from my mind, but I couldn’t resist wandering the new car lot as I’m waiting for Jerry to drop off his Tacoma with yet another whiny diatribe about the Dunlop tires.  I’m sure he thinks if he whines enough they’ll give him a free set of Bridgestones of his choice, but I highly, highly doubt it.  They’re not a safety issue or even a wear issue.  You have a bit of a vibration at 70 MPH.  Whoop de doo.

Just buy yourself a new set of tires if you are that damned fussy.  I told you to make them swap them out for Bridgestones before you took delivery of the truck…

Anyway, I didn’t even really get a chance to peruse the first two three-door Yarises- other than to glance and keep on walking because they were automatics- on the lot before a thin, sort of ferret-faced salesman starts chasing me down.  That’s what I get for perusing a new car lot on a weeknight.  The first thing I tell him is that I’m just checking out the new cars while I’m waiting on the old man to drop off his truck and that I’m not looking for a new car.  But of course, he persists, so I ask him if they have any (Scion) XDs or 5 door Yarises with manual transmissions.  Mr. Ferret gives me a sort of a weird look and asks, “You aren’t interested in an automatic?”

Ok, so ferrets are cute.  This guy wasn’t, but you get what I mean.

Hell, no, I think to myself, but then I have to wonder how many of the 13% he has actually encountered, and if he has had the rare opportunity to encounter one of the 13% who happens to be female. So I decide to take it easy on him.

“Sorry, but I only drive manual transmissions.  I won’t buy an automatic, which I know sort of narrows down my choices,” I replied, thinking that might make him give up right there.

It must have been a slow night, because the poor guy was running around all over the lot to see if they had any XDs or 5 door Yarises with manual transmissions.  They didn’t, but he did insist on getting my phone number (I gave the home number that I never answer) and e-mail. I don’t entirely want to piss these guys off because I’ve bought my last 4 new cars there.  Even though I pretty much despise car salesmen, I don’t want to be that much of a bitch.  I’m not interested in a new car right now- especially because Toyota isn’t building the Yaris sedan which is what I already have, and am perfectly OK with- anymore.  The XD is intriguing and even though it is a hatchback, that might cross my mind, but good luck finding one of those with 5 on the floor.

Yes, the manual trans is available, but have fun finding one with it!

I hope that I don’t have to resign to driving a farking Volkswagen just so I can get a sedan with a manual transmission the next time I buy a car.  It’s not that I dislike Volkswagen- as far as performance goes there’s no one like the Germans, and VW’s recent models (especially the Jetta and Passat) are interesting- but they are more expensive, and from what I’ve seen in the past, much less reliable than Toyotas.  Who got the farking idea that people who drive manual transmissions only like hatchbacks?   Who got the idea that everyone who likes a manual transmission can afford a European car, even if it does end up being a Volkswagen?  I know it’s hard to cater to the 13%, and I don’t mind that most of the available vehicles are econoboxes, but dammit, there is a market there!

The Jetta GLI could be fun, but I still wonder- how reliable?

I’m not enthralled with buying any car that isn’t made by Toyota, and I’m not buying an automatic anything, even if it means I drive my current Yaris until I drop dead.  So there.

I’m also wondering who around here is getting such a taste for oat opera.  Unless I put my headphones on, I am accosted to a rather foul auditory garbage dump of twangy tunes that make me think I’ve died and gone to redneck hell.  I try to be polite and use headphones if I want to listen to music outside of the privacy of my own car, because I understand that not everyone wants to hear Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” cranked up.  It’s a cool song but sort of gross when you think about it.  I know I have unusual tastes in music and don’t aspire to inflict them on others.   But why do others think I want my auditory channels violated by Conway Twitty or Shania Twain?

Please, please spare me from bad country music- and most of it is IMO, incredibly bad- unless you want me to start playing David Allan Coe.

Some Pigs are More Equal, Vertical and Breathing, and Fun With Cars

 The French, God love them, in spite of their penchant toward socialism and love of abysmally designed motor vehicles, have a saying: Plus ça change, plus c’est la méme chose.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The difference today is, sadly, that there is still a pro-slavery crowd preaching the morality of forced servitude to the masses.  It is a far more deceptive form of servitude, though.  The preachers of the religion- and it is a religion in which Government is God- of socialism keep telling the masses that we can reach some grand utopia if only we let government have all of our resources…so the government can “redistribute” them.   I can go on and on ranting on that point, but suffice to say that someone has to pay for all the “gimmes” to the entitlement crowd, and it seems that “someone” always ends up being people like me.  It’s just a tad bit grating knowing that all the money I pay out in taxes and insurances goes toward other people getting (for free) things I can’t afford.  If I think about it too much, it really pisses me off.

I can’t stress it enough.  Read  George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Which pigs are more equal?  Of course, the phrase “more equal” is an oxymoron to begin with, but the political correctness movement has brought us an era in which being some sort of protected minority du jour buys one privileges that the rest of the population is not accorded.   Is it truly in the interest of “equality” to give special scholarships to black students, while white students with better GPAs and more notable achievements are denied, or to hire a person who belongs to a minority group who is less qualified to do a job?  Doesn’t this send the message that ____ group is inferior and can’t achieve anything without someone fudging it for them?

I am all for equal rights, but I despise “affirmative action,” which is simply reverse discrimination.  It’s an attempt to make “some pigs more equal than others.”  There will never be equal rights in this country until or unless there is no preferential treatment given to anyone on the basis of race, religion, gender, disability, national origin, sexual preference, ad nauseam.  No one has equal rights until no one has special rights.

Ok, I’m done with today’s rant on government and society, before I piss myself off too much.

You win some, you lose some.  I do well to remain breathing and vertical.

Speaking of remaining vertical, tomorrow my illustrious son and his buddy are going to go to Cinci to retrieve his car, saving me at least part of the road trip, and I get my car back. I want to go hang out with Dad for awhile but I’m trying to think of creative ways to avoid having dinner at the nursing home.  I’m still having nightmares about that shrivelled up piece of sausage (?) and whatever that dried up film was on the outside of the coffee cup, but there are times when dining is more about being social and polite than it is about pretending to be a frigging gourmet.    Perhaps it is a sad commentary on my life that I am looking forward to driving a Yaris, but I have driven far worse in my life. I’ve owned a plethora of cars in my time- some good, some abysmal, some classic, and some forgettable. Maybe I can remember them all:

1979 Subaru DL- it was completely trashed long before I got it, but memorable because it was my first car, and when I got it there was a behemoth pack of Trojan rubbers in the glove box.

1975 VW Rabbit- this car completely sucked because it was a (rare) carbureted Rabbit – (same powertrain and induction as an old Dodge Omni… those one barrel Solex carbs sucked… and just as depressing to drive) and it had a number of bizarre electrical faults. It would not start if you turned it off at Burger King, for example, which makes no rational sense.

1977 VW Rabbit- ugly as hell but would run like a raped ape because we put the air distributor from a Porsche 944 on it (more air=more fuel on the old mechanical Bosch CIS injection systems)- this was the car I beat the boys with the Novas and Chevelles with the 350 engines and 411 rear ends in the quarter mile.  I know, drag racing is bad, but when you’re 18 and like to teach young punks some simple physics, it was really fun.  Horsepower means nothing unless you have the low end torque to back it up.

1972 VW Super Beetle-my first and last air-cooled VW- had to sell it to the ex to have money to move.  Loved the car, in spite of getting frostbite in my ankles from driving it in winter, but sometimes getting away from an ex is worth the trade-off.

1979 VW Rabbit- not as fast as the ’77 but it was my very first 4 door, and my very first Blaupunkt stereo with 16 speakers and 100 watt power amp.  Led Zeppelin cranked up in this car was awesome. Spending $800 in repairs in one month- brakes, control arms, front shocks, rear shocks, tires and a starter,  was not so awesome.

1990 Chevy Cavalier- worst piece of shit I ever owned- and I bought it new.  The week after I bought it I had to have the hood painted.  The lifters clanged like a diesel’s, and the oil pan drain plug was stripped from the factory. I was glad to see that son of a bitch go.

1983 VW GTI- I could kick myself in the ass for selling this classic. Damn, it would run fine…  But it was black, a 2 door, and the A/C didn’t work.  Plus, at the time I had an infant in a car seat, and that does NOT work with a 2 door that has no A/C.

1988 VW Fox- not magic, not tragic- it had 4 doors and working A/C, but I sold it before I ever had to have the clutch replaced.  Clutch replacement on front wheel drive cars with longitudinal engines is a bitch, and a repair that’s way too expensive for me.

1994 Toyota RN series truck- I loved this truck.  It had 250K on it when I begrudgingly let the old man trade it in on his ’99 Tacoma. The old 22RE engines were virtually indestructible.

1998 Toyota Corolla- It was purple and I loved the color.  But I made the mistake of putting aftermarket aluminum wheels on it and had nine kinds of trouble with them, and then I became enamored of the Celica I saw in the showroom.

2000 Toyota Celica- Another car I could positively smack myself for trading in.  This beastie was fun to drive and fast as hell.  But Steve-o couldn’t fit in the back seat, and the lease was up so I had to trade it in on something.

2005 Scion XA- This car was fun and it had 4 doors and more room in the back seat.  The only reason I traded it was because the lease was up.  I don’t see myself doing leases anymore.

2008 Toyota Yaris- I liked this car too, until I got rear-ended and was paranoid taking it back even after the body damage was repaired- and I was offered a hell of a deal to just buy a new one with more safety features on it.

2010 Toyota Yaris- This is my current ride- exactly like the 2008 only with power everything, cruise and side airbags. Why the hell they don’t make the sedan anymore is beyond me.

In all honesty it is difficult to find a decent car if you’re one of the 13% of American drivers that prefer a manual transmission.  The Europeans offer the best rides for those who like to shift gears themselves- but they’re also the most expensive.  The Japanese do offer manual transmissions in a variety of models, but most of those are base model econoboxes, (my vehicles of choice) so if you like options you’ll likely end up dealer trading for them or special ordering them.  I’ve gotten lucky with most of the cars I’ve bought recently- nobody wants the manuals with all the toys- so I get better deals.

Steve-o found out today that his automotive hypocondriasis was exactly what I thought it was: something stupid.  Steve-o is also a member of the 13%, and he’s also aware that the Europeans have the best offerings for those of us who pass by all the cars on the lot that only have two pedals.  Audis, especially turbo Audis with 150K+, are very temperamental when they have vacuum leaks.  He had an improperly sealed valve cover and a slightly cracked flange leading to one of the vacuum lines. It was miraculously devoid of the catastrophic failures he envisioned, and frankly, I barely noticed the trivial, almost indiscernible miss on cold start before he took it in for repairs.  He would crap himself if he had to fire up Dad’s ancient Mazda van and listen to the lifters clang like a diesel’s until the temp gauge gets at least half way up.  That disturbs me- and I try to be very easy on it when it’s cold- but I admit the play in both the ball joints scares me more than the lifter noise.  I hope to avoid the larger potholes and divots with this thing.  At least I get my car back tomorrow, after I hear his whining about how it hydroplanes in the rain (no shit when you’re going 85) and the wind blows it around. I’ve not heard any whining about the 40+ MPG it gets on the highway though.

I have to wonder what kinds of drugs the artist of this painting was on.  Cats with umbrellas, in the snow?

The Cold Comforts of Cougardom, and a Kingdom for a Jug of Pennzoil

I love being “middle-aged,”  or as I put it, in my cougardom.  There.  I said it.  Why am I so excited about life, knowing that at least half of it is over? In a lot of things I am one of those people who see the glass as being half-empty, but as far as the rest of my life goes, the glass is half-full.  I’m not getting my ass kicked on a daily basis, I’m not driving a shitty car,  and nobody calls me to locate my sisters.  I can look at hot younger men with impunity, and without fear of having some uncouth redneck wench spit Skoal in my hair.  Cougar life is good.

The number one advantage of being in the cougar set is that no one really cares what you wear as long as you cover the important stuff.  I don’t have a problem with coverage, because we have laws in this country against cruel and unusual punishment (yes, I have actually read the Constitution, unlike some of those currently holding elected offices.)   It would be cruel and unusual punishment to make anyone observe me in: a bikini, a mini-skirt, the nude, or in any other state of not-so-decent dress.  So I make sure all the important (i.e. stuff nobody wants to see) stuff is well-covered.  I can accept my frumpiness and run with it, with the delicious knowledge that many of the “beautiful people” I went to school with are twice my weight, with tanning-bed leathery skin.  I don’t look good and never did, but I look better than some people who used to look good.  Why that appeals to my sorry sense of vanity I will never know, but it does.  Shame on me.  My mother would drag me to Confession- were I still Catholic- for such an egregious sin.

There were a few girls I went to school with who managed to remain “beautiful people,” such as the Hall Twins, who are painfully identical (with identical bleach-blonde hair and usually identical clothes too) and have not changed one bit in appearance since 1984.  I have to wonder if they are either wax models or if they have been freeze dried or something.   There were a few really fugly people who managed to either lose weight or get their teeth fixed or have plastic surgery who are now “beautiful people,” but most of us are at right about the same level of “definitely not beautiful, but not exactly fugly.”  Entropy eventually wins out.  Gravity does too, which I am reminded of every time I take off my bra.

Now I know why Grandma preferred the long-line bras.  Unfortunately, I am unable to breathe while wearing one of these.

The other advantage of cougardom is one I noted many years ago whilst observing my grandmother and great-grandmother.  Not only did they wear bright colors and bold patterns, they also spoke their minds- loudly, consistently, and with no regard for political correctness.  I loved taking them shopping if only to see just how mortified Mom was at their commentary.  I learned that descriptives such as, “whore,” “floozy,” and “lard ass” must have been around a long time- and that according to both my grandmother and great-grandmother, such individuals can be found everywhere. 

It’s shocking when a twenty something is caught drooling over some fine young stud, but it’s somehow charming- or at least funny- when some old bitty does the very same thing.  I’m not dead and I’m not blind- so I’m going to look.  I may not comment like they did (and both of them seemed to enjoy the 80’s trend in tight jeans for men, which I wish would come back in style) but I’m still looking.

Some things in life are constant, such as my disdain for the local Walmart. It’s not so much a dislike of the store itself but of its Team Members, who are anything but a team.  Any place that calls its employees team members, associates, etc. rather than employees, is almost always a shitty place to work.  It seems to me that when an organization has to come up with fancy titles for its employees that they are trying to make them feel good about working a shitty job in an abysmal place.  Any place that makes its employees wear name tags is also almost always a really shitty place to work.  Walmart- at least the one I’m talking about down the road- is either a really shitty place to work, and/or they just can’t seem to come up with the hazard pay that sentient humans would require to work amongst the unwashed, illiterate and uncivilized masses that frequent this place.   The Team Members I’ve encountered in this particular Walmart are surly, largely unable to speak or understand the English language, and seem to resent my very presence.  

I did, however, need to find myself a jug of Pennzoil so I can get my oil changed.  Yes, I know brand loyalty is largely folly, but there are two brands I don’t waver on- Toyota is one, and Pennzoil is the other.  I’ve used Pennzoil in all of my vehicles, and have never in over a million miles driven in them have I had engine failure of any kind in any of them.   So I continue to use it, whether it really makes a difference or not. I think in the grand scheme of things changing the oil regularly matters more than what kind you use, but I’m not taking any chances.

Target isn’t open at 6AM, and I didn’t want to have to go into any store after work, so I figured I’d venture in to the Walmart before the crackheads and serial killers wake up.  I forgot that the employees Team Members at Walmart are every bit as deranged as their usual clientele. 

All I can say is, if you’re going to have the doors open 24/7, you’d better have at least one farking register open, even if it is 6AM.  When someone finally did locate a cashier (once I located someone who could understand rudimentary English,) I had been wandering around the Walmart for 20 minutes.  The cashier seemed to be quite pissed off about having to get off her ass and deal with me, but I smiled and kept my commentary to myself.  The only mitigating factor in this transaction is I paid $15.99 for a five quart jug of Pennzoil 5W30 that I normally pay $22.99 for, so I guess I get the shitty service discount.

The pisser is it costs me more to buy 4 quarts in quart bottles than it does to buy 5 quarts in the 5 quart jug.  I only need 4 quarts.  It’s a freaking Yaris, OK?

Laugh if you must, but 40MPG on the highway (NOT a hybrid) is nothing to scoff at!