ABC news has asked viewers to send in evidence of global warming. How is it affecting your life? ABC news wants to hear from you. This is like Life magazine asking readers in 1952 to describe the communists under their beds. Bald? Slavic? Ruddy? Drunken? Well, I can help. Naked hairless blistered ocelots prowl my yard; mutated day-bats flutter around the eaves, and the other day a polar bear got up on two legs and pushed around a fume-belching two-stroke-engine lawn mower as some sort of ironic protest. Although it may have been the neighbor mowing the lawn with his shirt off. Also, water levels are down around Jasperwood. The top tank on the Oak Island Water Feature is down an inch every morning, and while I might suspect the repair crew managed to puncture the new liner while replacing the stones, I suspect methane emissions are to blame. To do my part I will cork the dog’s hinder, since today he finished processing a bratwurst that fell on the floor, and my stars. Fire in the hole, indeed. Even the dog got that expression Curious George had when he broke the bottle of ether.
I am not susceptible to disaster scenarios. I do not believe we have ten years to prevent the inevitable collapse of civilization. As long as I can remember I have been fed end-times scenarios – death by ice, death by fire, death by famine, death by smothering from heaps of clambering humans scrabbling for purchase on an overpopulated world, death by full-scale nuclear exchange, death by unstoppable global AIDS, death by a two-degree rise in temperatures, death by radon, death by alar, death by inadvertent Audi acceleration, death by juju. Doesn’t mean we won’t die of juju. But somehow we survive. The only thing I take away is a vague wistful wonder what it would be like to live in an era when things were generally so bad that the futurists spent their time assuring us it would be better. Say what you will about the past, but at least they had a future. All I’ve ever had, according to the experts, is a grim narrow window of heedless ignorance bliss followed by a dystopian irradiated world characterized by scarcity, mutation, and quite possibly intelligent chimps. You have no future. Oh, and don’t smoke!
I’m a stupid optimist. Either the vehicle that takes me to the boneyard will get six miles per gallon of processed dinosaur, or it will run for ninety days on a milliliter of Sea-Monkey urine. Either way, all in all, we’ll make it.
But I’m a bad widdle boy, I am. Obviously. I just don’t know the specifics of my badness. Really: What did I do? What did I do? You know those dreams in which you commit some horrible crime, and you get away with it for a while but you’re soaking in haunted dread until the moment you wake, and realize with a great happy warm flood of joy that you did not actually drown someone in a tiny bathtub. You’re innocent! Well, it’s possible that I did commit some crime, long ago, and got away with it. Scot free, as they say, except in Scotland, where they simply say “free.” It’s possible I have a gargantuan karmic debt to pay off, and the Oak Island Water Feature was just the first installment. Today’s Karmic Payback moment occurred at the auto dealership – Richfield Bloomington Honda, in case you’re curious. I picked up the Element and was pleased to see the paint job had been completely repaired, and it had the same warranty. So all was well.
Well, they’d applied the new trim to the interior panel. And herein lies a tale! A funny one. Ha ha. See, I made a mistake when I ordered the trim; turns out I really wanted the standard gauge trim. And of course that’s what I got, it being standard. Today I saw the optional trim, and I didn’t like it. No sir. Didn’t like it at all. Then I noted that one of the new pieces they’d added was loose. It had been on the car less than six hours, and it was loose.
“It probably needs another piece of 3M double-stick tape,” said the salesman. Really, that’s what he said.
“3m tape?” I said.
“That’s what Honda specifies,” he assured me. Well, it was still loose, and what’s more, I’d traded a nice flush-fit dashboard for these useless “metallic” – i.e., shiny faux-metal plastic – additions guaranteed to collect dirt and dust and snag any washcloth. In short: I hated them. So I go back tomorrow to have them removed.
So: they scratched the paint job trying to remove some sap, they installed running boards with dents, and installed trim that came apart in a day. Chances they will get the car for routine maintenance: absolutely zero. I imagine that if I had a conversation with the dealership manager about this, he would express much sorrow and perhaps give me a coupon for a free oil change. But if I mention I will write a letter to Honda, the blood will drain from his face. No! You cannot! You have no idea! The ninjas will come! He will hold up a hand and show me a missing finger: I had to give up my thumb in ’87 when a customer to Honda about mismatched floor mats, and it has taken me this long to regain their trust and good graces. Please! I have children!
At moments like this you look at yourself, and wonder: what’s my motivation?
Revenge? No. Justice? Of course; we all like to think we strive for Justice, and letting them know how displeased you were is means of balancing the scales. But perhaps this is just a nice bow tied around an ugly turd – I was inconvenienced, and now someone else must be temporarily uncomfortable. What do I want to happen, after all? Some guy in the service department should get a black mark in his file because he screwed up my car? Well, yes, he should, but he shouldn’t lose his job. So he should just lose his bonus? Well – no, although maybe he should get a smaller dessert at the annual picnic OH I DON’T KNOW.
I really don’t. I could say I want to save others from service department incompetence, but not if I was facing a mirror and God was looking over my shoulder. In the end, there’s nothing you can do, except buy your next car somewhere else. Over time market forces may change the level of quality in their service department; on the other hand, over time the Grand Canyon was created by erosion. If anyone takes the brunt for this it’ll be the guy at the bottom of the pile. Is that what I want? They screwed up, they fixed it all without complaint, they lost my business. Leave it at that.
Besides: I hate to make a grown man pretend he really, truly, honestly apologizes for the loose trim.
Note: “Death by Juju” is the punchline of the Crazy Uke’s best, and most unrepeatable in this venue, joke. He told it ten years ago. I could bring up the punchline tomorrow in the right context, and he’d bark out his trademark laugh; the Giant Swede would wipe away tears of joy. Death by juju! Trust me, it sums up the Worst Thing possible. But it is a joke. It’s a punchline. It works because we never die of juju. To paraphrase someone else: Life is what happens when you’re making plans to abolish juju.
Apologies to the few fans of the King features syndicate comics site; forgot to put up the weekly update. It’s here - and constant readers may enjoy the first example. And new Quirk, of course. Thanks for coming by! See you tomorrow with the usual drivel and a Diner to boot, bandwidth permitting.