Vehicle maintenance chews up an entire day; film at 2300.

May 18, 2007

In preparation for a cross-country drive in a couple of weeks, I took the TARDIS into the dealership for a checkout and routine maintenance yesterday morning, figuring that it would only take an hour or two before the mechanics were finished and I could get on with my work. As things are wont to happen to me, it's never quite as easy as it seems.

Because I was in the middle of changing jobs last year, I never took my car in for the 15k mile maintenance checkout, which the manufacturer requires to keep the warranty up to date and valid. Seeing as how I paid a pretty penny for the bumper-to-bumper plus 15 billion years extended warranty, I was in no position to argue yesterday when this point was raised. The base cost for the 15k was in the neighborhood of $277us: A considerable expenditure at the drop of a hat, but a drop in the bucket when compared to possible mechanical failures. I signed the paperwork and had the shuttlebus drive me to Tyson's Corner mall to kill time, because I normally wait in the Koon's Tyson's Toyota dealership's customer lounge, and the change of scenery would be nice to stir things up a little bit.

The two hour projected wait turned into something like six hours. A number of mechanical problems were detected by the mechanics, including the need to rotate the tires and re-align the wheels, and on top of all of this the air conditioning needed to be dismantled, cleaned, and reassembled. Frankly, they had me at the word 'mildew', and seeing as how most of my friends in DC have health problems of one kind or another (Lyssa's asthma, in particular, is a concern of mine) I didn't want to put anyone at risk if I absolutely didn't have to.

In the interim, I got a couple of projects tackled while drinking coffee at Barnes and Nobles, wandered the stacks, hiked the length of the mall a couple of times and poked around in some stores, walked back to Barnes and Nobles, and generally acted like a pop culture tourist with nothing better to do than wander the Tyson's Corner Mall pretending to be well-to-do with a couple of hundred dollars American burning a hole in my pocket. Somewhen along the way I took the elevator up to the food court on the third floor because they offer free wireless net.access and checked my e-mail. Unfortunately, they made it hellishly difficult to get an SSH or VPN connection out of their firewall, so I wasn't able to finish everything I needed to. Quite frankly, I don't trust public wireless networks any farther than I can throw my TARDIS, and I won't have anything sensitive going out over an unencrypted link, or for that matter encrypted but passing through at least one machine that I didn't construct personally.

I'm fairly certain that the final hour at the mall was spent waiting for the shuttlebus to get around to finding me and haul me back to the dealership. There seems to have been a lot of that going around lately, because I was sitting with a few other people who were waiting for a pickup also, only a bit less patiently than I was. I think that I could have waited just a bit longer to pay the piper, though.

Net cost: $470us. So much for my discretionary budget this month.

If nothing else I don't have to worry about the engine mounts disintegrating in a spray of oxidation and the cooling system winding up in my lap.