Car noises? Probably the gromulet frinster

By Scott Green

The first sign that a school break has ended and the majestic pursuit of knowledge is set to resume is that my car needs repairs. If my car ever broke down in the middle of July, the University’s Board of Trustees would have to convene an emergency semester.

So last week, right on schedule, I had a problem with my brakes. Car experts consider brakes very important because they make cars slow down and stop, though if you want to be an average campus motorist, they are not essential. What happened was, my brakes began making a high-pitched squeaking noise whenever I started my car, such that they could have replaced Fran Drescher in any of her acting roles and nobody would have noticed the difference.

To handle the problem, I went to a local car dealer with a service center; I will not identify that dealership here, on the standard journalistic practice of not wanting my behind to get sued off. I was greeted by Greg, a repairman who said he remembered me from the last time I went in to get my car fixed, though I suspect he only recognized the dull look in my eyes that indicated I might nod emptily and agree to pay $400 if he told me he needed to repair, for example, the rear gromulet frinster.

I went to the waiting room while the mechanics did a thorough investigation of my car and determined, using the sort of intense mechanical precision that can only be acquired by years of on-the-job experience, exactly which parts of my car were the most expensive, so they could replace them.

After an hour Greg came into the waiting room to tell me about all the things he wanted to do to my car, a list on his clipboard totaling approximately $800. I asked if, since I was just a poor college student, he could take a little something off the price.

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“Well, I could take this off, and this,” he said, crossing $200 off his list. I had somehow found the holy grail of auto repair: an honest mechanic eager to help someone in need.

“You’re going to do those two things for free?” I asked.

“What? Oh, no, we can just not do them,” he replied helpfully, then headed out again.

When Greg left, in came a salesman from the dealership named “Salesy” (not his real name) who, every time I am in for repairs, tells me about all the wonderful cars he would like me to purchase from him. He does this, he always assures me, for my own personal benefit, though I have never figured out what benefit this is, unless he thinks I am rooting for him to get a big cash commission.

The other person in the waiting room was trapped and had to listen to Salesy’s entire pitch; this was because she did not know my patented anti-Salesy technique. When he turned to me and asked if I wanted to take a look at some $5,000 cars, I said, “No need to look – I’ll take ten.” He went off – possibly sulking at my insolence, possibly to prepare the paperwork – and I was able to resume watching daytime television in peace.

After a few minutes of soap operas and talk shows, I longed for Salesy to return so I’d have something interesting to focus on. Televisions at car repair waiting areas are mirages. They are fully capable of bringing you any show on television, although service centers’ hours of operation are the exact same as the hours there is nothing good on TV. There would be no problem if I could get my car fixed at 8 p.m. on a Thursday, but I can’t get my car fixed at 8 p.m. on a Thursday because all the mechanics are home, watching TV.

Two hours and $600 later I drove off into the sunset, my car again working perfectly, except for a new thudthudthud sound made by my rear wheel. I returned immediately to the dealership to have them fix whatever they broke. Greg informed me that, first, the sound was absolutely nothing to worry about at all, just a standard non-worrisome car noise, and second, it was not their fault and I should bring the car back tomorrow to have it repaired at great cost to me.

Luckily, the thudthudthud noise went away after about half an hour, so I didn’t have to go back. I figure it was just the gromulet frinster.

Scott is a second-year student in the College of Law. His brakes have been cast in the film adaptation of “The Nanny.”