I Hate Them. All of Them.

By Alex Wendt

Hey kids. Sorry I haven't been very diligent in keeping up with these Nancies.Org articles as I know I should, but that's going to be the subject of this installment of Anchorman Pace's curiously interesting life. My focus today is cars, and how much I hate them. All of them. Particularly mine. I drive a gold '89 Nissan Sentra four-door sedan with 125,000 miles on it, and it's been the sole reason why I haven't had any time to write articles, think clearly, or even shit normally over the past 14 days. Why?

Well, let's start with a client meeting I had at 8:00 PM on Thursday the 8th, in Reston. For those of you unfamiliar with the Northern Virginia area, Reston is essentially a big huge planned community town sandwiched between Vienna and Herndon, with crime rates that are as low as the rents are high. It's a very nice place, but I wouldn't want to live there. Anyway. 8:00 meeting in a neighborhood I'd never been, and I arrived after dark and in the pouring rain. There was parking all over the place, so I just parked somewhere close to where I thought the guy's apartment was and went in, and did my thang. Came back out, maybe an hour and a half later, to find a Nissan Pathfinder strategically parked in front of my car (as well as two others), making it physically impossible to get out. Turns out that the guy had done it on purpose, since I had apparently inadvertently parked in his space. Now, firstly, it was dark, raining, and my car's external registration clearly identified me as someone not from anywhere Reston. Second, it's a friggin parking space, for 1.5 hours! So to make a long story short, the guy wouldn't let me out, and I had to call the Fairfax County Police in Vienna in order to get him under threat of arrest to move his car. This is, of course, yet another way in which I've spontaneously become old following graduation: the last time I've been in contact with the police, it was I who contacted them.

Once upon a time you dressed so fine

You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?

People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"

You thought they were all kiddin' you

You used to laugh about

Everybody that was hangin' out

Now you don't talk so loud

Now you don't seem so proud

About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

This, my friends, is only the beginning. On Saturday, I was out on a client meeting, this time in McLean. McLean is a very affluent part of Northern Virginia, which is generally pretty affluent to begin with. Following my appointment, I am driving on a residential street and notice that suddenly there is smoke coming from my car. Not good. After stopping at a Safeway and checking the oil and the ground, I realize why: oil is spewing out of my car, onto my engine and onto the pavement. Buckets. The car is smoking because the oil that has already leaked has collected on the engine exterior and is slowly burning. In the meantime, theres hardly any oil in the INTERIOR of my engine. Fun. After dumping 2 quarts into the bugger, I sputter to a Sunoco station, where on a Saturday afternoon at around 3, they diagnose my problem to be a break in the seal surrounding my timing chain. Which I'd just fixed 3 weeks prior, might I add. So, I make arrangements to get it down there on Monday, get a ride into work, and fix it. Turns out it's more than that - the entire timing chain is damaged, and the timing chain case is cracked, meaning the whole damned thing needs to be replaced. They gave me a good price on it, and showed me everything in excruciating detail, so my rant will not focus on my mechanics - in fact I recommend them. They certainly know me well enough.

Following getting that fixed, I drive the car for a few days without incident. Then, coming into work the following Tuesday, I am about to turn into the work parking lot in Annandale when something very curious happens. My car dies. Like completely, totally dies, without warning. The engine doesn't cut off, but suddenly the car won't go forward even when floored. It just rolls backwards down the hill. I throw the car in to park and turn the car off. It still rolls backwards down the hill. IN PARK. I turn the car back on, and try accelerating. The car starts, doesn't move anywhere...except backwards down the hill. Finally, after putting the emergency break on, I get out of my car - while it's still running. A kindhearted soul had stopped by that point, asking if there was any way she could be of service. However, I was so confused, so steamed, and so incredibly stoopid that in my talking to her, I accidentally locked my door. With the keys still in there. With the car still running. After realizing that I am indeed a dumbfuck, I notice liquid coming out of my car. This is not in itself unusual, except that this liquid is not clear, and it's not brown. It's red. As in transmission fluid. I know nothing about cars other than I like them when they run, but I still know that red means bad. And, the car's still running. Now, after running into my office, calling a tow truck, and getting the two knowledgeable car people from the office to help me break back into my own damned car, I finally am able to turn off my car. Shortly thereafter, the tow comes and I get the thing to the Sunoco again. Now, I know you're thinking that the transmission is dead. Nope, that comes later. What actually happened to my car is that the right front axle cracked. Yup, they took it out and showed it to me - definitely cracked. Sunoco's people feel sorry for me, so they speed order the part and only charge me cost. Even still, it took until the afternoon to get it in and working. Then they test drove the sucker, and everything worked, and nothing leaked.

You've gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely

But you know you only used to get juiced in it

And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street

And now you find out you're gonna have to get used to it

You said you'd never compromise

With the mystery tramp, but now you realize

He's not selling any alibis

As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes

And ask him do you want to make a deal?

This makes it now Tuesday afternoon, and I'm supposed to be in Richmond that day on appointments, with a colleague. The colleague is scheduled to stay at my parents' place in Richmond, so it's kinda important that I be there too. So, I pick up the car at Sunoco and head off, confidant that my car problems are over. Rather than go to Richmond directly non-stop, I remember that the new Bob Dylan Live 1966 album came out that day. I feel like treating myself, so I drive to the Tysons Corner Tower Records and park. Now, since I drive an old car that traditionally has a small oil leak, I now instinctively glance under the car as I'm leaving it to go do my aforementioned thang.

You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns

When they all come down and did tricks for you

You never understood that it ain't no good

You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you

You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat

Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat

Ain't it hard when you discover that

He really wasn't where it's at

After he took from you everything he could steal.

Red. Red fluid, streaming down from my car to the pavement and onto my shoes. We're talking a steady stream. I look up the street and notice that my car has left a red trail, all the way into the parking lot. I am not amused. I call Sunoco, who tows the car from the lot, and pays for a rental car so I can get to Richmond, goddammit. They call the next morning, after I've returned, to report that the transmission has officially died and is unsalvageable. Now, at this point I would have preferred to sell the car for parts, and put a down payment on something else. ANYTHING else. But, it's technically dad's car, and dad wants to pay to fix it. Dad's money, by the way, is free has an infinite rate of interest. It's hard to argue against that. So, it gets fixed, and I'm able to pick it up 1.5 days later.

This brings me right up until a couple of days ago, and everythings been cool since. It's why I havent been keeping up with Nancies. It's why I haven't been keeping up with myself. It's why I haven't cleaned up after myself until today. It's why we have to look at Linda Tripp on the news every other day, and be horrified into weeklong sterility. Well OK, maybe I can't explain the latter.

How does it feel

To be on your own

With no direction home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?

So, in conclusion, I've had quite a couple of weeks, especially when one considers that my job IS my car. So, please write and console me. Gifts, cheap hookers, MasterCard/Visa, good wine, not-so-good wine, and more cheap hookers all gladly accepted.