Wednesday, July 2, 2014

No Air Conditioning (and other life threatening problems)

I've been driving for the past month with little to no Air Conditioning in my car. It's not because I'm proving a point to live eco-friendly (I mean, I recycle, sometimes, but I don't go crazy), or driving a classic car (unless 2003 re-tooled Ford Focus are becoming relics). It's because June was a no-good-very-bad-awful month for my wallet.

It all started on May 28th, when I was having my windshield replaced ($374). I noticed that my license plates expired on June 1. And so did my safety inspection. Well, shit. I checked online, and sure enough, I was also due for an Emissions test, which needed to be passed before I could renew. Double shit. Renewing my registration on Emission Inspection years is historically an awful, expensive, and soul crushing experience for me, as my car has only passed on the first time once in the 8 years that I've owned it.

As I drove to the Emissions site the next day, my A/C started pushing hot air. It was 90* outside. Triple shit. After waiting in the line for 30 minutes in the blistering sun, it dawned on me that my car's check engine light was AGAIN. That means your car won't pass Emssions. Quad shit. So I cut my losses and just dropped it off with the techs. "Find out why the A/C isn't pushing cold air, and what I need to do pass Emissions.

2 days later, I get a call from the shop. After a laundry list of woes and ails, I get the final estimate: $1,100 to bring my car up to tip top shape. All the shit. All the shit, ever. I cleaned up the explosion from my surprised butt hole and negotiated (i.e. started crying because I can't afford $1,100) to $650 to get the A/C running and have the car passable for inspections. But I still have to drive it for a week before they can run the Emission test. Whatever.

The next day, I get pulled over for having expired tags. Luckily, the officer was understanding as I showed him my "Failed Emissions" report, and let me go.

6 days later, the check engine light comes on again. It's the oil sender that I didn't have fixed. $117. I have to drive for another week. I am 3 weeks overdue, and am frantically dodging cops.

5 days later, I pass emissions.

The next day, my A/C stops working again. "Oh, it must be a leak. See, we said on your invoice here that it might need to come back in 2 weeks if the system starts pumping hot air again. And it's been two weeks." I drop the car off, again.

8 hours later, get a call saying there is a leak in the A/C compressor, and it needs replacing. $360. At this point, I drop my basket. I can't afford $360. I really couldn't afford the almost $800 I'd spent so far. I'd just have to make do without A/C. In the summer. In swamp-land Virginia [shock!gasp!] My inner First World Problem air raid sirens were running at full blast, the same way the bellowed when I found out Odie's apartment in Sydney didn't have A/C. I mean, How can you live? How can you live with out air conditioning?!

As I drove home with the windows down and music blaring, and a cool breeze flowing through the car, I thought, "Hey, this might whole not having A/C in my car might not be so bad. In fact, this, right here, is down right pleasant." And for the first couple drives, it was nice. The weather was mild and I enjoyed it.

But then, Virginia remembered that it's Virginia, and quickly came back with 90*+ temperatures with $100% humidity. Since Sunday, I've needed a shower after anything more than a 15 minute drive. I've sweat through clothes faster than I ever thought I could before. My left arm is two shades darker than my right, which is shocking because I'm so pale I'm basically transparent. It's at the point now (yes, after less than a week) where I think I might literally die in my car if I get caught in stop n go traffic.

So while there are some potentially fatal drawbacks to not having A/C in the summer in a state like Virginia, I have discovered some benefits:

  • you really find out which clothes are purely ornamental, and which will help you survive. That polyester fit n flare dress with the pattern you just died over? yeah, it's a heat magnet and will sear itself to your skin. Dark wash denim skinny jeans? more like shrink to your legs while taking in ALL THE HEAT EVER jeans. Low top "summer" boots? Fuck that. Loose cotton tops, flip flops and sweat pants cut into shorts forever, ladies. I've culled 17 outfits in my mind already.
  • the idea of getting into your car between 10 AM and 8 PM is so gut twistingly undesirable that you lose the idea of getting food to go, or stopping into that random store, or even running the mildest of errands. Saving money you can't spend! 
  • no one wants you to drive because your car smells like a foot, and will melt their skin. Woo, fewer things to do!
  • getting disgustingly sweaty with every drive means I've showered everyday for the first time in months. Woo, breaking dat Hobo Lyfe.
  • saving money on gas, since the A/C isn't drinking it faster than I drink Diet Ginger Ale. Oh, why is that soda so embarrassing? And yet, so good?
  • with highway speeds + rolled down windows, I can't hear my Netflix through the phone. Saving data!
  • since I can't hear my Netflix, and I haven't replaced my iPod, I've dug out my old CDs. Nostalgia!
  • the look on that dude's face when I rolled up next to him in my uber professional gear, sweaty like a heart attack victim, windows rolled down, and Staind's Mud Shovel blaring out. (did I mention old music nostalgia?

Oh, and then on Sunday morning, my car got towed because I was too tired to run down and put my parking pass in, and thought (damn, lazy optimism) that patrols wouldn't start until the afternoon. $185.

How did I get to be an adult again? 

Tune in next time, when I learn to do things ahead of time so it doesn't end up costing me thousands of dollars. 


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