Sunday, May 29, 2011


I'm having an affair, and what's worse, I'm falling in love with the other woman. She happens to be a green Honda Civic I've named Beulah. But you have to understand the circumstances during which I went from a loving, monogamous relationship with Stan (my 1989 Mercury Topaz that I've had since I was sixteen, easily the longest relationship of my life), to considering transferring my loyalty and devotion to Beulah, all in under 12 hours.

Beulah, the Green M&M of Vehicles

The only things my parents still pay for are my car insurance and DMV-type registrationy fees. (Other than that, I am fully independent). So when the DMV informed my dad that it was time to get Stan smogged for his registration come June 1st, my dad made sure to give me plenty of time to take care of it. Being a natural procrastinator, and proud of it, I just now made it in to Pep Boys with four days to spare. I even made an appointment online (self-five!). Four hours of waiting, reading a large section of "The Help," and awkward conversations with a stranded young family with car trouble on the way to Disneyland and a teenage Tim Burton look-a-like, I still hadn't heard about the status of Stan.

Finally I decided to ask the very cute and charming Pep Boy Artin. (He's lucky that he was cute and charming, otherwise I would have been even more annoyed at this waste of my time). He said, oh, bad news, it failed. I had joked in my Facebook status before leaving that I had my fingers crossed for him to pass, otherwise it was "curtains for ol' Stanny." But it never really occurred to me that he would actually fail. Sure he has his many many many flaws and eccentricities, but he's always come through for me in the past six and a half years.

How can you not love this face?

Naturally, the technician who tells you exactly why he failed and what you need to do to get him fixed, wasn't in that day and won't be in tomorrow for Memorial Day (which is already my day off and I don't think I get holiday pay so it's more of a nuisance than a mini-vacation like for most people). Plus, it's an extra $140 not to mention a whole day without a car in order to diagnosis this mysterious illness. Not including the repairs to make him pass. I'm already having a belt-tightening month and was barely going to afford the cost of the test and an oil change. Now I find out I have to sink even more money into Stan just to pass California environmental standards? I'm all for the environment, but do the hippies mind forking over the money to buy me a new Prius? 'Cuz I don't have it, son.

I found out that it's possible I could qualify to get financial aid from our bankrupt state to "retire" my old man. It's the least they could do since they're the ones imposing such high standards anyway. But the thought of letting go of my buddy, the Murtaugh to my Riggs, is heartbreaking. Not many partners-in-crime will stick with you even after throwing up all over them while driving in Laker traffic on the 10 freeway. I always knew that Stan wasn't going to last forever. But it's like losing your first dog or your first boyfriend. That's a bond that will never break, no matter how temporary. I just know that I'm going to cry if I have to drop Stan off at a recycling plant to be dismantled. Think of how gut-wrenching that one scene in Toy Story 3 was!

I picture this, only insert a
Mercury instead of cute CGI toys.

Sure I'll be happy to get a new car. One that functions like it's supposed to and doesn't make weird old man gurgling and sputtering sounds. And idly browsing the North Hollywood online used car market yielded a few prospects, like the lovely, enticing, and affordably priced Beulah. The more I check out her statistics and financing options, the more seduced I become. But the fact remains that I am broke. The best thing about Stan was that he was completely paid for. I'm even considering getting a bike and just biking to work. But we all know that not having a car in Los Angeles is laughable.

The Green M&M of M&Ms

Hopefully I'm just jumping the gun and throwing the baby (or old man car) out with the bathwater. I don't know how much it's going to cost to fix. It could be less than a couple hundred dollars in which case maybe I can squeeze a few years out of Stan. But at the same time, isn't it better to start putting the money towards a new car and let go of the past? Should I start embracing a future with Beulah, the saucy Japanese mistress?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Getting Busy

I am convinced that yesterday was the pinnacle of my customer service career. One resident was so fed up with her upstairs neighbor's "bedroom habits" that she decided to record the incessant squeaking of the bedsprings that were keeping her awake at night. She was tired of having to explain to her young daughter that the neighbors were just "moving furniture" in the middle of the night. "Momma, they sure move a lot of furniture," the daughter said. So just in case we thought she was exaggerating or making it up, she actually caught the neighbor in the act on tape knocking boots like some kind of boot-knocking madman.

I kept trying to convince her that we believed her and that we were doing everything we could to resolve the situation. But it's not like we can ask this poor guy to stop having sex in his own apartment. We didn't need proof but nevertheless she insisted on holding the tape player up to the phone and playing it for me. So there I was sitting at my desk, listening in on the intimate if not exactly private affairs of one of my residents. Emotionally, I was torn. I felt bad for the guy on the tape who just wanted to get his freak on and here we were about to meddle. But at the same time, it was really loud. I'd be pissed too if that was my neighbor and I couldn't sleep whenever he got lucky. And then on the other hand, I was impressed. Homeboy has stamina. I mean, he was REALLY going for it. Hat's off to you, sir. But mostly I was just uncomfortable. There's nothing worse in my opinion than accidentally overhearing other people getting it on, no matter who it is. I have some horror stories, believe me.

So this incident just combined many things I despise:

1. People bitching
2. Problems for which there are no answers
3. Awkward confrontations
4. Listening to complete strangers have sex

I believe the compromise was that Homeboy was going to dismantle his bed frame and just put the mattress on the floor. Hopefully that helped. I really don't want to have to listen to another amateur recording of his mating rituals. Situations like this, of which there is no short supply in Studio City, definitely keep life interesting.