Monday, January 29, 2007

Reason #9,567 Why Bikes are Better than Cars

No body work.

The hood latch on my present car had been sticky since I got it. I'd been able to get by, as long as I remembered to forcibly push the release handle back in after pulling it out to pop the hood.

The situation came to a crisis a couple of months ago when I took the car for an oil change. The latch stuck open and would not snap shut for anything. I had forgotten to push the handle in. When I did, it did not take up the slack.

Quick lube places lose patience in a hurry when a customer can't pull out as quickly as they pulled in. The money is made on volume. Actually, the place I use is so cheap I wonder if it isn't a front for something else, but as long as they do a good oil change for a really good price I'm not launching any investigations.

After several minutes with a cluster of frustrated oil-change technicians firing spray lube into the mechanism and prying it with screw drivers, the latch suddenly gripped the hood as it was meant to do. I drove away.

Something always comes up on my days off, so I hadn't delved into the problem. But now the car is due for another oil change. To prepare, I dared to open the hood, to make sure I could close it again at the lube place.

About 90 minutes later, after I'd given up a couple of times and then gone back out to the snow-covered driveway, and placed a call to my trustworthy mechanic, I went back out with some advice and reassurance from him. Eventually I broke enough parts off it to get it to latch. Whether I'll get it open without a crowbar is anyone's guess. But it's shut now. I can drive on the highway. Of course I have to limit my mileage, because it still needs the oil change, and I don't dare clot up the quick lube place with it. I have to replace that latch assembly or have it done by someone else.

The greasy, frustrating project completely gutted my afternoon. Now I will be later than usual for everything that follows, because I still have to do everything else on my list for this afternoon. I couldn't bypass the stupid car issue because I need the car to do some of the stuff on the list.

My four bikes together cost less than one semi-reliable used car. If one of them turns out to be completely crippled, any of the others can be ready to go in minutes. If one breaks down out along the road, I can knock it down to a small enough package to be able to get it home in almost any vehicle that might come along. Or I can walk along pushing it.

Stupid cars.

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