Carma

A time or two I’ve heard my dad say how he wishes he’d have spent more time doing things with us to teach us life skills. As children, we had lots of responsibilities and expectations placed on us, but were still very much allowed to be children and we enjoyed our youth probably more than many of our peers. I think one of the things my dad would probably agree he wishes he’d taught us more about is auto stuff.

To be clear, I know very little about cars and what I do know I’m not confident in. For example, I technically can change a tire. I know how to do it. But I’ve done it so seldom in life that I don’t trust myself to complete the task safely. Plus I hate it. I’ve been fortunate enough that in my adult life there have been very few times indeed when I’ve not been able to pay a professional to handle things like this for me. When I worked as a cosmetologist, my argument was that I didn’t want people to be cutting their own hairs, so I’ll not do my own car repair, etc… Obviously there are exceptions, when I would handle something minor like changing wiper blades or something. But beyond that, if it doesn’t move when I stick in the key and press the accelerator, I’m taking it somewhere.

Luckily, for my sanity and my pocket book, I’ve not needed mechanics much in my adult life. Overall, I entered this life with excellent carma (car + karma). However, the key to karma isn’t getting all good karma. Right? The key is to balance your store of good karma with your store of bad karma, and thereby step off of the wheel of death and rebirth, samsara. To that effect, I suppose I should be very glad for the happenings of the last 7 days insofar as my carma is concerned.

My last car, a PT Cruiser, was about as good a car as I’ve ever had. I bought it having had only one prior owner and about 10K miles on it. For the almost the entire duration of the loan, the most I ever had to worry about with that car was oil changes, a battery or two, and I think maybe two sets of tires. Nothing major. Just prior to our trip to Minnesota, a few things came on the radar that were a bit pricey – but not mandatory at the time and so they were put off. It was paid off last November when I purchased my home and almost immediately there were concerns that needed attention. We began to calculate the cost of repairs against the resale value of the car and found ourselves at just the tipping point between the two – it was time to get rid of it.

So that’s what happened. About 5K miles ago, I bought a brand brand brand new new new car. A big nicer than the one I drove before it. A bit more expensive, too. It came with a number of things I would categorize as “bells and whistles” – but they were standard. There was an upgrade or two, too. Since making that purchase, I’ve loved the new car (a Dodge Dart). Sadly, right as I’m coming up on my first oil change, things have gone crazy downhill.

About 3 weeks ago a semi kicked up a rock and chipped my windshield. It was the smallest chip ever and something I probably would have been able to ignore for a while until my finances could easily accommodate the expense of a replacement. However, the same night, while parked in my garage, that tiny chip in the glass expanded and branched out – almost all across the entire windshield. Obviously even more unsightly and increasingly a safety risk – especially considering that in the days following the crack managed to spread on its own, getting bigger on a daily basis.

I called around to price compare with different companies for a replacement windshield. After settling on a company, I scheduled an appointment for them to come to me and do the replacement. The first issue was that, because my car is crazy new, no one has parts in stock and everything has to be ordered. (This will prove to haunt me more than once!) The first date they were supposed to come out was last Saturday – a couple days after I called them to schedule. That, however, was moved to Monday. But on Monday the tech called and explained that he was miserably behind schedule and would need to see me Tuesday instead. Fine. Tuesday a different tech showed up, but not with the proper glass. So he left, carried about his day helping others, and promised to return by the end of the same day – which he did. But when he returned with the correct glass, it was scratched quite noticeably. It would be Friday (tomorrow) before they would be able to have another shipped in. Fine.

The next day, I was on the interstate on my way to work and squarely hit a massive and deep pothole which I’d never before noticed. I was able to continue driving fine, but after parking in the garage at work, examined my car and found a cracked rim and a tire with a massive bulge. Not safe. Of course, my first thought is to get the spare / donut tire on. No such luck, however, because my car came with none. Then I spent all morning calling around to various tire places – only to be frustrated in every instance. My car has what’s called “OE” (original equipment) which apparently means a very limited number of places to buy from and invariably expensive.

I’m already shelling out $500 for a new windshield and how it’s going to be even more than that to get a new tire and a new wheel – all of which are coming to me from Chicago. Definitely not what I wanted to squeeze into my already too-tight-for-comfort budget, especially after having just paid thousands out of pocket for dental work and at a time when i’m trying to focus on whittling down debt and prepping for a summer of enjoyment with pals.

In the grand scheme of things, though, I shouldn’t complain. I know of people who have a son battling substance abuse and addiction. I know other people whose parents are likely divorcing. And of course there are starving children in Asia and Africa … so what right do I have to lament my first world problems? Probably not much right, at all.

So I’ll shut up.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

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