Hola, amigos. I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I've had a fistful of problems lately. I had to beg Ron for a second chance at the crappy carbonics plant. That sucked, first because I hate begging, and second because I hate begging Ron. I had to remind him of the time I pulled this guy with a USMC tattoo off of him after he got too friendly with the marine's woman. I was hoping to cash that favor in for something good, instead I had to waste it on a job.
It's cool making rent, but the job sucks. We make dry ice, and we put carbon dioxide into tanks. I haul the tanks and wrap the ice. The last time I worked there, it was summer, so at least I could go outside to warm up. Now I have to go to the break room if I want my nuts to drop back into place. Plus, I gotta take orders from Ron, and the only time he mellows out is if I smoke him up out back.
On top of all that, the alternator on my Festiva was broken all last month. After about five weeks of parking on hills to pop-start it, I finally decided I had to replace the alternator. I know what you're thinking: "Anchower, why would you throw more money at that car? It's like polishing a turd." Well, shut up and let me talk for a second. It was either buy a new alternator or buy a new ride, and I don't have enough money to buy a new ride. Got it? Good.
Anyway, I figured that if I was gonna throw money at the alternator, I should fix up some other things, like the door that got smashed in by a Hummer and the headlight that never worked. You know, make the most of a bad situation.
I went out to the junkyard thinking it would be a breeze to find another Festiva. I forgot how much of a mess a junkyard can be. Have you ever been to one? It's like a giant, rusty candy store. You walk through rows and rows of smashed-up cars and just take the parts you want without paying a fortune. But it's rusty and disorganized and you sometimes get lost in all the cars, because they pack them in tighter than a nun's twat. Well anyway, I wandered around the junkyard for about two hours in the freezing cold. I saw a bunch of cars, some of which must've been pretty sweet in their primes, but I never found a Festiva.
I was this close to giving up when I saw one of my old cars, the Volkswagon Golf from four years ago. The windows were shattered, the back seat was ripped out, and there were mouse turds all over the dash, but I could still tell it was my old car by the gouge in the ding protector. You know, the rubber strip on the door to keep your car from being banged up. Mine got torn up that time I turned around to yell at a guy in the back seat and sideswiped a mailbox. I knocked the box clean off the pole and tore ass out of there, thinking I'd made off scot free, but then I saw the gouge when I got home. It's funny, you never forget a great memory.
That Golf was a good car. The engine seized up on it, or I never would've sold it to that high-school kid who wanted to fix it up in shop class. Anyway, I was standing there thinking about the good times, and then I remembered the car had a special anti-cop hidey spot I jerry-rigged by gluing a plastic tube inside of the wheel well. It had always been the perfect spot to hold an emergency joint. I squatted down in front of the wheel well and tried to reach for it, but I couldn't get a good angle. I didn't want to just walk away, so I laid on my back with one shoulder under the car and went to work. After a couple of minutes reaching around, I got up in there and found the tube, but I couldn't pop the cap off, so I just gave the entire tube a hard jerk. Well, turns out that wasn't such a good idea, because I had my hand wedged up inside there, and the force of that jerk got my arm totally stuck.
I started trying to wiggle myself unstuck, but my jacket got caught on a screw or something, and everything got a hundred times worse. I started to get panicky. I was like, "No way I want to die like this. I'll cut my arm off before I freeze to death under a car that doesn't even start anymore." Thank God, I didn't end up having to cut my own arm off. After 10 minutes of twisting and squirming, some big old guy in greasy coveralls walked up like, "Hey, who let you on my lot?"
After he reached in and ripped my jacket to free me, he started giving me the business about going out in the yard without supervision. "You can't just come on in here and start grabbing at stuff. You've gotta come in through the gates." Like I'm gonna steal some hubcaps or something. I mean, sure, I did steal some hubcaps once, but the junkyard guy didn't know about it, so he had no right to talk to me like I was a criminal.
Then the guy would not shut up. He starts telling me it's a city ordinance that I can't be out there alone, and he can't afford a $500 ticket. Plus, what if I got caught under one of the cars and no one was there to find me? Well, I didn't say anything to that, but in my head I was like, "I'd cut my arm off."
The guy asked me what I was looking for, and I told him I was looking for a Festiva, and he took me right to one and stood and watched while I pried off the parts I needed. I paid for the parts, pushed my ride down the drive, climbed in, did a pop start, and drove off. It wasn't until I was three blocks from home that I realized I'd forgotten to see if there was a joint in the hidey-hole, so I've gotta go all the way back over there and check sometime this week.
After all the hassle, I'm still screwed because the headlight I got was the wrong model. The alternator worked great, but before I can get the new door on, I have to pop a lot of dents out. I spent most of Sunday doing that, using a prybar until my hands bled. That's how I realized that parts are only a quick fix, and I need to get a new car. I went to Ron and asked for a raise, but he said I can't even be up for a raise until I'm on the job six months. That dick. Take my advice: Don't work for a friend. Period. It's you who's going to end up paying the price.
Jim Anchower joined The Onion's editorial writing staff in 1993 after several distinguished years on The Come Back Inn dishwashing staff. He comments on community-affairs, automotive, and employment issues. He attended LaFollette High School in Madison, WI.