It must be ‘Fleece the Tourist’ season on the Cape…

…because I almost got hosed on Tuesday.  Almost.

So it’s Tuesday and it’s a beautiful day on the Cape.  I spent the morning getting my hair did at a local salon.  My hair is not naturally red and my roots were becoming…a situation, but fortunately the company (who wanted to use my hair, rather than a wig for the show) agreed to pay for it.  Yet another perk of my delightful job 🙂

Because there were only a few days left in the month of July, and because that is the month when my inspection sticker was going to expire, I thought I’d better go get my car inspected.  [For those insightful readers who may be thinking, ‘Wait a minute, if she lives in NY how the hell is she going to get her car inspected in MA?  While it is true that I have an apartment in Manhattan, my permanent address is still in MA where I grew up and where my parents still live.  I don’t keep my car in NYC full time so I thought it’d be easier to keep the registration, insurance, etc… in MA.  I can’t imagine why anyone would care about that, except that it’s the kind of thing that would bug me if I were reading it.  So there you go.]

After my sojourn at the salon, I drove to the nearest service station and discovered upon my arrival that they only do inspections from 8:30-11am and 2-4pm.  Good luck to you if you have one those thingies…what are they called?  Oh yeah, a real job.  Lucky for me, I only have a pretend job so when I showed up at 1pm it was no big deal.  I didn’t mind the wait and happily took myself to lunch.

I usually eat out pretty frequently when I’m on the Cape (mostly because I *was* a miserable cook, not to mention lazy), but I’d been preparing all of my meals on this trip thus far because eating out can be tricky with this whole paleo thing.  So on this occasion, going out to lunch was a nice treat.  I had a lovely lobster salad (no mayo), two strangers stopped me in the parking lot to compliment my hair and I was getting shit done…overall I was feeling pretty spectacular about my day.  That is until…

“So your car (pronounced c-AH cause I’m in MA) is not gonna pass inspection and we can’t stop the inspection once it’s st-AH-ted.”

“Oh, well then let’s not do the inspection.”

“Too late.  I already st-AH-ted it.”


Turns out my tires were all bald as a cue ball and scalloped, sorry sc-AW-lloped, to boot indicating that my alignment is effed.  That was an instant $500 and three hours of my life that I’ll never get back.  [No fear gear-head friends, I didn’t get my tires done at the service station.  I may be clueless when it comes to cars, but I’m not that stupid.  I got a quote from them, but then went to a real tire place where I got a much better deal.]  Still, ouch though.

Because bald tires are technically a safety violation, my inspection sticker now has a bright red ‘R’ on it…

[What is this, The Sc-AH-let Lett-AH?]

But that wasn’t my only problem.  See, my check engine light has been on for oh, two years or so…off and on, you know.  Who can keep track?  I do know that when it first came on I went to some guy in NYC who said it’s probably just a bad sensor and I shouldn’t worry about it.  I liked his attitude.  Not so much with the guys at Frank’s Service Station.  They were making a pretty big deal out of it.  So much so that when Frank and I failed to make a appointment to figure out what’s actually wrong with my car (scheduling conflicts) he went out of his way to make an appointment for me with another mechanic five miles down the road.  At first I thought, what a stand-up guy.  He must actually want to help me out if he’s willing to send me to his competition…

Turns out the other mechanic was his son.

In any case, I brought my car bright and early the next morning and because it’s the Cape (where you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an adorable cafe, restaurant or clam shack) I was able to walk across the street for a delicious mushroom and spinach (and totally paleo) omelette.

Half an hour later Frank Jr. called to tell me that some really important part of my car was broken and apparently it was going to cost me $2700 to get it fixed.  If I had been drinking at the time, I would’ve done a spit take.  Instead I laughed a little bit and said, ‘I’m unna hafta call you back.’

Then I called my mom:

‘Ma, the guy from the car place just called and said I need a new catalyptic transverter and it’s gonna cost $2700.’

‘You mean a catalytic converter?’

‘Yeah that.’

‘Well, it sounds like it must be ‘fleece the tourist’ season down the Cape. [Everyone in MA says ‘down the Cape.’ You never go to the Cape.  You only go down the Cape. The ‘to’ is implied.] You better call Dad and have him find out if Bob can fix it.’

[Bob is my parent’s next door neighbor and he’s been fixing our cars in his driveway for years.]


I didn’t call my dad right away.  I wanted to finish my omelette first.  Mom must have called him though (the joys of being an only child) because five minutes later: [Imagine all of this with an endearingly charming Worcester accent.]


‘I talked to Bob…’

[My dad is nothing if not efficient whilst on the phone.]

‘Can he fix my catatonic transformer?’

‘Catalytic converter.’

‘Yeah, that.  Can he get one?’

‘The part’s gonna be about $500, but it involves a lot of labor and Bob might not be able to do it at the house.  You’re gonna have to bring the car home and stay here a few days so he can figure it out.’

I don’t believe this is true.  In fact, I just spent $75 on a diagnostics report that clearly states that I need a new cathadonic transvestite and since it was Wednesday at the time and I wasn’t going to be heading home until the following Monday, I see no reason why Bob couldn’t simply order the part and fix it as soon as I got home.  Rather, I believe this to be a ploy on the part of my extremely wily father to get me to stay home for a few extra days.  He does that a lot.

Frankly, I still don’t see what all the fuss is about.  It’s not a safety issue, it’s an emissions problem and while I do try my hardest not to be an eco-terrorist, $2700 is a lot of money.  Hell, even $500 is a lot of money and you have to draw the line somewhere.

I was just going to ask Bob to disable the check engine light – cut a wire or unscrew a light bulb or whatever  – and go for one of Sarah’s patented ghetto repairs, but I made the mistake of sharing this idea with my father.  He was not a fan.  So it looks like after my idyllic time at the Cape I’m going to be stuck in Worcester without a car for who knows how long.  Spectacular.

Though I suppose I could always take the bus…

2 thoughts on “It must be ‘Fleece the Tourist’ season on the Cape…

  1. I always love explaining to non-New Englanders how a town spelled w-o-r-c-e-s-t-e-r is pronounced (at least by my father, who was bawhn in Swansea and raised in Roe Dyelin) “Wistah.”

  2. Pingback: The two worst places to have to go when you’re single: | Frivolity On The Edge

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