Like most Americans, I’m tired of the cold weather. Yes, it’s only the middle of January, but I’ve had enough. Enough of super-cold temperatures, enough of the snow, ice, freezing rain (how is that different from ‘sleet’?), wintry mix (whatever that means) and slippery pavement.
Add to that the fact that my car’s heater is less than spectacular, and I am getting downright cranky. My car’s just five years old, and it’s a pretty luxurious model of its manufacturer (let’s just call it the Reliable), but the heat it produces only spews well from the dashboard. If I want my feet warmed up, I’m going to have to buy some electric socks. If it weren’t for the heated seats, I’d have turned into a human ice sculpture long ago.
I’ve asked the service manager if he could check to see if there’s a problem with my duct work or the air flow. He just shook his head and chuckled, “That’s a Reliable for ya… Never enough heat on the feet.”
Great. Why didn’t they tell me this before I bought the car? I guess they’re not known for telling you the downside of their product—who is, for that matter? But for several months a year I have to check my toes for frostbite at the end of the day.
Anyway, my Reliable went back to the dealer last week for some routine service. Its 60-month checkup is scheduled to cost more than the first car I bought. Way more. Add to that the fact that it needs new rear brakes, and we are talking some serious money here.
When I scheduled the appointment, they offered me a loaner car, which I cheerfully accepted. I didn’t expect a Mercedes, a Lexus, or even a Saab, but I guess I was surprised to be given a soup can on wheels. Let’s call it a Klunker. I believe in calling a spade a spade.
It is small, which is not a problem. I’m pretty sure that if you tried real hard you could fit two of these Klunkers into my Reliable. Not that I’m about to do that, but I think if you were in a Mercedes dealership, these might be over in a side lot with a sign that says “Take One”.
While I was waiting for the loaner, I was thinking that I should have asked for something that had the electric seat warmers. Then I thought, it’s only for a day or two, and it really won’t matter. Mistake.
Not only does this car not have seat warmers, it doesn’t have automatic door locks. I believe the last time I had to reach around the driver’s seat to manually unlock a rear door, Jimmy Carter was running for President. This doesn’t sound like a heinous burden, but my back has been acting up, and I had errands to run, and this business of back and forth with unlocking and locking doors was not helping.
The Klunker has an FM-radio, and the wipers work. When the rear window was fogging up, I searched in vain for a rear-window defogger. Yeah, right. I’m lucky I’ve got a rear window, let alone a defogger.
On my way home the first day there were such loud rattling sounds that I considered pulling over, getting out, and looking under the car for some extra tin cans that might have been coming loose. I was too cold, and decided to tough it out.
I mean, just to tell you how cheap this car is, the manufacturer’s emblem on the trunk lid is made of Legos. Well, not the real-deal Legos—more like the ones you would find in the dollar bins at Target. Cheap. Because when I say “Soup Can on Wheels”, I’m not talking Progresso soup. I’m talking store-brand, generic, plain-label soup. In a thin tin can.
So I’m into my fifth day with this car (3-day weekend at the dealership) and I’m still unaccustomed to coming home and having to lean in, reach around, and yank the lock to open the back door and take my things into the house.
But I will say this: that heater works like a dream. Maybe they can keep the Reliable a few more days—just till this cold snap ends.