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Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Little Swedish Borderline





Sometimes unable to function in society.

No, I'm not describing both of the women who played with my penis in college, I'm talking about my car.

It's an automotive borderline.

Fortunately, it hasn't resorted to self-injurious behavior or a suicide attempt, though that reminds me of the scene in "The Love Bug", where Jim brings home the Lambo and Herbie tries to kill himself by throwing himself off the Golden Gate Bridge. When you think of live-action Disney films featuring scenes of attempted suicide, you often forget to include "The Love Bug," but there it is. The film was actually going to be called, "Herbie: the Car that Cannot Contract for Safety" but the test-audience declared the title a bit too cumbersome.

Anyway, my 2002 Volvo S40 is not attempting suicide, at least, I don't think it is, but it is definitely behaving in an attention-seeking way.

In the past three weeks, it has been to my mechanic twice, and to Volvo service once, and, if symptoms persist, another trip back to Volvs Central will be on the horizon, and this time, instead of an observation bed, it will be an inpatient commitment for up to three days.

The behavior the car is exhibiting is as intermittent as it is troubling. When left overnight, the first start of the morning seems to take forever. The engine hesitates and complains and resists turning over for sometimes as long as a minute until it finally gives in and there is ignition and the obligatory Swedish purring. My mechanic changed the battery, even though the old one was holding a sufficient charge. The next morning, it happened again. Back to the mechanic, who, frustrated that the battery change didn't work, yelled at me and told me not to bring it back, "UNTIL YOU HAVE A REAL FUCKING PROBLEM!"

But... I wasn't inventing this issue to get attention. I'M not the borderline-- it's the car!

Last Sunday, while pulling into a parking space, the car sputtered and stalled.

"Oh, fuck you," I said, "don't make me go all Basil Fawlty on your ass."

(If you don't get that reference, you need to watch the "Gourmet Night" episode of "Fawlty Towers." Preferably, with me.)

The car started right back up again. Typical borderline bullshit.

When I brought the car to Volvo service on Friday after work, they were kind enough to give me a loaner so that I could get to work on Saturday morning.

"We've got a loaner, if you're not picky," they said.

"Not picky?" I asked, "what are you giving me? A 1976 Dodge Coronet?"

(Part of me hoped that's what they were giving me.)

No, though. Turned out those of us who are "not picky" get a 2010 Volvo S80, the flagship, top-of-the-line sedan that retailed new in 2010 for around $50,950.

When I returned the S80 yesterday (they practically had to break my wrist to get the key fob back) they told me they were "unable to replicate and diagnose the issue" with my car.

So, I left with my car, having spent no money, receiving a coupon for a free car wash, having no answers-- nothing but the opportunity to commute for 24 hours in a car that cost just a few ass-hairs less than the down-payment on our house. One might say that I cooked this whole hesitant starting business up so that I could, if just for a moment, experience what it feels like to drive a large, modern, super-luxurious sedan, sitting atop at least ten slaughtered, supple cows to be king for a day. But I'm just not like that-- I swear. Of course, that's probably what they all say. The goateed customer service rep at Volvo Service shook his head at me and said, apologetically,

"No fault-code came back in the computer when we hooked up the car."

"Did you try Borderline Automotive Disorder?" I asked, receiving a blank stare.

Apparently, that's not one of the fault codes. But it should be.


  1. I'm swedish and when I was was 12 I had sex with my uncle? Does that mean I'm gay or he is?

  2. Anonymous--

    Gee, I don't know who's gay in this situation, but, the more that I think about it, it's probably the alternator.

    Does your uncle fix cars?

  3. Thanks for the blog post. it was really interesting.
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