Thursday, April 26, 2007

Check Engine

This morning's headlines say that Dr Ruth believes that Muslims need more sex, that a kidney broker was caught down in Mexico and that Hugh Grant was arrested for assault with a tub of baked beans.But all I care about is that my check engine light went on. Few things short of a debilitating or terminal illness are more upsetting than the "check engine light". They may as well turn the "check engine light" into a "give me a $160 sucker" light, because that is all the damn thing is. My car is four years old, and this is the third time that the check engine light has gone on.

If you read your owners manual you will find that when the light goes on, you are supposed to stop everything you are doing and head for your dealership. God only knows what will happen to that engine if it is not "checked". In reality, all that they ever do for you is turn off the light, and charge you for it. Sometimes they lecture you about puting too much gas in your tank, sometimes they ask you if you have driven without a gas cap, there are a few other items that they say can cause it. But the bottom line is, I bet you could drive forever with a check engine light on if you did not get so damn sick of seeing it flash at you when you started your car every morning.

I admit that this problem seems to get to me more than others. Once when I was in a service station getting gas, I restarted my engine and the light came on. I started cursing a blue streakat the very top of my lungs and pounding on my steering wheel, only to notice that all of my dashboard lights were on and the car had simply failed to turn over. I looked around and noticed that several folks quietly pumping gas into their own cars were looking at me as if I would break loose and attack them at any moment. That's what that light does to me.And that's why the light is there. The car manufacturers know that their are a certain percentage of us who will pay, about once a year, to have the light turned off. Even years after we find out that it is a farce, we will pay to have it turned off because we go crazy from looking at it, or when some passenger says, "hey, I noticed that your check engine light was on, better get that looked at."

Why other industries have not come up with the equivalent of the check engine light is beyond me. You could have them installed on any home appliance, cell phone, computer, hell, you could even have one installed in a house. Every year or two you'd walk into the bath room and the damned "check toilet" light would be on again. You'd call the American Standard Company and they'd send someone over to turn off the light, and maybe ask some semi-serious questions about your bowel habits or the type of toilet paper that you use, and then they'd give you a bill for $160.00. And no matter how often you paid it, you'd always call them out again because it would drive you crazy when some friend walked out of your bathroom drying his hands, saying., "hey, I noticed that your check toilet light is on in there, better get that looked at."

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