June 22, 2024
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June 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

One of the most annoying things about your car being in the shop—aside from the fact that the longer it’s there, the more problems the mechanic is going to find, statistically—is that you’re short a car.

So if it were up to me, I’d almost never go to the mechanic, unless my car was making weird noises or smelled funny. I have a similar philosophy with going to the doctor. My wife, on the other hand, is a big believer in bringing our car to the mechanic just to see if anything is wrong, which she prefers to being stuck on the side of the road because something is wrong. And wouldn’t you know it? Every time she brings it in, they find a problem! So the system works.

And that’s why we brought the minivan in this week. There was nothing wrong with our van that we knew of. But my wife’s sister is making a bar mitzvah this Shabbat in Maryland. (She lives there; she didn’t just pull a state out of a hat.) And that’s four hours away if there’s no traffic, which there is. So my wife wanted to get the van checked out before we went, because that’s considered a long drive. At least for our van, which these days basically takes me to school, which is a 10-minute walk, plus we do carpool in it, which is a little bit longer because kids don’t like to walk, and we also use it when we want to transport sheetrock back from Home Depot with our faces pressed up against the windshield.

So the mechanic called us back and let us know that the car was leaking coolant. At first, I thought he said “choolant.” I don’t know how that made sense; I thought it was slang for something. Like oil. So I said, “At least the kishkes aren’t falling out.”

But that’s how it works. You send a car to the mechanic, he’s going to find something. He doesn’t get paid to tell you nothing’s wrong. Basically, a mechanic is like a doctor. The doctor says, “Come in for a checkup every once in a while, even if nothing hurts!” and then you come in, and he tells you something like, “You’re leaking coolant.”

(“Oh, thank goodness! I thought you said choolant.”)

The mechanic said that #1, he had to order a piece from the manufacturer, and that could take time to come, and #2, it’s possible that while taking out the old piece, he would break some more pieces.

I like that our mechanic is honest like that. Yes, he’s breaking things, but it’s possible that every mechanic is breaking things and not telling you and just tacking that on beforehand as part of the initial price. But our guy says, “I might break things,” and we’re like, “Well, at least you’re trying not to. Here’s some money for fixing all the additional things you’re breaking.”

See, people say they want an honest mechanic, but they really just mean “a mechanic who doesn’t charge so much.” Instead, we’ve got a mechanic who is honest enough to say, “I might break this,” or “I’m just waiting for another piece. The computer says it hasn’t shipped yet, but don’t worry—I’m going to keep refreshing.”

I don’t need this. I just need my car back. You can even replace it with a car that looks reasonably like the one I gave you. I won’t know. I’ll just assume my wife moved the seats.

But no! He’s honest.

So basically, I’ve been dealing without a car all week in preparation for this bar mitzvah. Also, we left a bunch of things in the van when we dropped it off that we don’t have access to, such as all our little adapters. But on the bright side, they also have my son’s skateboard. My son has a skateboard that he used to keep in the house, which annoyed us, because the way you play with a skateboard in the house is you wait until your parents are trying to concentrate on something, and then you loudly roll it across the floor until you hit a wall. Then you roll it in the other direction until you hit a wall. (Every direction you go in our house, there’s a wall.) And then your parents say, “Stop skateboarding in the house!” And you say, “I’m not! I’ll put it away.” And then you shove it back across the house to wherever it goes, and it hits a wall and bounces back to the middle of the room so that someone else could find it and start playing with it.

So one Chol Hamoed, we went to a park and convinced him to put the skateboard in the van, and then we just never reminded him to take it out. It lives in the van now. That way, he has it when we go somewhere, but it’s never in the house. The only downside is what the skateboard does when we make a short stop.

I’m not complaining about the van being away all week. I’m managing. A lot of families have only one car. But usually, that car is big enough for their family. That’s probably the main feature they look for in a car. We have two cars in total—this minivan, and then another car that is comically small. You can fit three kids across the back if everyone inhales when you shut the door. And the issue is that we have to somehow get to this bar mitzvah without a van, when the bar mitzvah is the reason we sent the van to the mechanic in the first place. This is our bigger car. We should have given the mechanic our smaller car. If we would have known.

So I turned to my wife, and I volunteered, out of the goodness of my heart, not to go. But then she pointed out that I’m also supposed to speak, apparently. That’s how my sister-in-law locked me in.

So my wife started trying to find relatives who were going to this simcha too, but not with full cars. Long story short, we hosted my in-laws on Thursday night so they could drive a couple of our kids the rest of the way on Friday. And then, in the little car, it was just the four of us, plus a flying insect who wouldn’t leave no matter how many times I opened the window. Have fun moving to Maryland, you tiny idiot.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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