"Harvest is when I need you the most. Only one more season. This year we'll make enough on the harvest so I'll be able to hire some more hands."
- ―Owen Lars, to Luke Skywalker
- Monday evening, as I pulled off of I93 onto the surface streets heading into the Marriott Cambridge-side in Boston, the somewhat embarrassingly loud hole in my exhaust decided to become a really embarrassingly loud hole in my exhaust.
- Oh, the echo of the A8's venerable V8 rumbled and ricocheted about the brick streets and buildings of Kendall Square, sounding at moments like a dilapidated old taxi and at others like a 17 year old's dream muscle car, drawing the bemused attention of pedestrians who sneered or laughed, depending on their personal demeanor.* I grinned and bore it but was relieved to park her, silent at last, in a dark corner of the posh hotel's parking garage for the next few days.
- When I had time to obsess about it, I weighed my numerous options, calculating obscene sets of linear equations factored across potential repair costs, expected life span time lines, cash on hand and savings rates, replacement cars, and when, exactly, I'd have to do something. Was it time? While I derive perverse pleasure from the dreaming and scheming that leads to the optimal solution, it's having to ultimately commit to a course of action at the cost of all the other great alternatives that leaves me stuck. Analysis paralysis. But in the end, you can only go one way. Shit or get off the pot.
- Temptations haunted me. Go big and newer and expensive? Go old and fun? Buy a one-year car and trade up after saving?
- And so this morning I took her down to A&J Motors, Manchester's own version of Click and Clack, to see if she would pass inspection and what the financial damage would be to quiet her down. Anything in the realm of $500 could trigger the above thought processes into action.
"Only one more season. This year I'll save enough from driving and I'll be able to buy your replacement."
- ― Me, to the car
- Ah, but as is usually the case, I need not have worried. Click and Clack pointed to the brackets that connected the header pipes to the exhaust pipes. The pipes were solid and rust free, but the brackets holding them had given out after 18 years of duty. They found a pair of replacements after a brief parts store search, the only two in stock for miles around. $37.79 each. They must have been sitting on that dusty back shelf for years just waiting for me.
- An hour or so later they called me at home with a friendly "come pick her up, she's ready." $130 total, including the inspection sticker. She's not brand-new quiet, but good enough. Which means one more year on the farm unless some strong-willed droids stop buy, getting me all mixed up with the Empire, causing me to follow old Obi-Wan on some damn fool idealistic crusade.
- By then I might be able to get a replacement with a working hyper-drive:**
- * Probably a good test of whether they're from Boston originally or from somewhere else where tolerance, understanding and a sense of humor are admired in the social order of things.
- ** Car of the week: 2012 Audi TT RS with a turbo in-line 5 cylinder pumping 330 horsies at the brake and pulling 330 lb feet in this relatively light beast. Why five? Because Audi makes 'em weird (and I like them) like that.