This year the registration on my 2002 Acura required a smog test. I wasn’t concerned. I meticulously maintain my car.
“What do you mean it didn’t pass?” I questioned the attendant as if he had just told me my child had failed a physical education test.
“I’m sorry but the regulations have become more difficult for these older cars. Go have it checked out and then come back.” He said.
I immediately went to my trusted mechanic and told him of my plight. He hooked it up to a life support machine. “You need a new air compressor. I’ll fix it.”
When I returned, he hooked it up to the machine, “Just checking that it will pass. Hmmm no, see where the air is good, but the catalytic converter will not pass.”
“What does that mean?”
“You have to drive it for 50 miles then come back to me. But you have to drive it fast. And don’t stop.”
What kind of witchcraft auto repair was this? Drive a broken car to fix it? I hopped onto the only freeway that was pretty clear that time of day and drove 65 MPH. As soon as I reached 50 miles I headed back to the mechanic. By now it was 5:30 and he was closing.
“Come back tomorrow morning and I check it for you.”
“But I’ve been driving it like mad.”
But it wasn’t okay. The following morning it failed again.
“Go drive another 50 miles, fast and steady.”
Crazy talk. Maybe we should swing a dead chicken over it.
Even though I was becoming weary of this process, I drove my 50 miles and returned to the mechanic that afternoon.
He plugged in his little red machine, “You must keep driving it’s not cleared yet. Go now. 50 miles. Then come back.”
With this amount of driving coupled with the cost of gas being what it is, I could buy a new car. I let out an audible sigh. Where was I going to be able to drive fast and steady for 50 miles in heavy afternoon traffic? Then I remembered New York Drive with its multiple lanes and wide-open space. And so, I traveled up and down the 3-mile loop at top speed, dodging cars and pushing through yellow lights. Waving my arms and honking, “I’ve got to keep driving! Can’t stop!” Other drivers glared at me as if I was filming Speed 3. Up and back, over and over and over for an hour and a half until I reached that magical 50-mile mark. Alas, it was all in vain.
Time was of the essence; soon late fines would start piling up. I needed a guy. Everyone has a special mechanic guy. I put the word out.
“I gotta car guru for you,” Greg answered.
Perfect. I drove down to his mechanic’s shop where he was expecting me. I, on the other hand, was not expecting what I saw. This old man dawdling over to my car was the doppelganger to Billy Chrystal’s, Miracle Max in Princess Bride.
“Pop za hood.”
“Ok.” I did as I was told.
There was a lot of banging noises for about 10 minutes and the car shook a couple of times before the hood slammed shut.
“It will pass. No charge. You must go right now.”
I bolted out of there and headed to the smog test sight, but not before checking my rearview mirror for a lifeless chicken that had possibly been swung over my car’s engine.
It passed. I will never question voodoo mechanics again.
Live with waffletude.