There are many things that we all just know are a bad idea, and take a lot of money to obtain and/or upkeep. Most addictions fall into this category. Y’all might have read the title of this article and thought, oh wow, is she going to talk about cigarettes? Alcohol? Gasp, maybe a drug problem??
Nothing quite so intense. My most expensive vice?
While you may be scratching your head, or nodding it in agreement, let me tell you a few stories.
First, the story of my steering wheel cover.
So, I have an old 2005 Honda Civic. It has a slim, faux-leather steering wheel that originally came with the car. It is beginning to crack around the edges from years of holding, turning, and sliding hands and gloves. It gets finger-freezingly cold in the winter, and near-1st-degree-burn level hot in the summer sun.
Therefore, I decided I should get a cheap steering wheel cover to solve all the problems.
As is my default these days, I turned to Amazon. I browsed different colors, prints, faux leather versus fuzzy zebra print. Just a simple, classic black cover is all I needed, preferably as cheap as possible. I found one for $11 that seemed to fit the bill, added it to my cart, and clicked order.
I then forgot all about it, until 2 days later, when it arrived. After excitedly opening the box, I again forgot all about it for a few more days, as it sat in my den on a pile of other boxes. Finally, one day it was super hot, and I took it out to the car to try to install it.
Guess what I didn’t do before ordering it?
Yeah. Measure the diameter of my wheel.
I pulled and stretched and tried with all my might, but a 17 inch cover won’t fit on a 19 inch wheel. Shaking my head at myself, I tossed it in the back seat, to be dealt with and returned later.
Later has still not come.
That cover is still sitting in the back seat of my car. Several months later. That $11 is still Amazon’s. I’m not proud of that.
Okay, so what, that’s just a few bucks, you may say.
Time for story number two.
My poor little Civic is sorely neglected by me the majority of the year. Like most major and minor appliances, and joints, I only really think about it when it has problems or doesn’t do what I want it to.
One day, I started it up, and it did a crazy shaking thing with some accompanying weird noises. Definitely cause for concern. I tried to back out and go about my day anyhow, hoping it would magically fix itself. The car couldn’t make it above 20 mph down my road, and continued shaking.
Weirdly, it didn’t just magically fix itself.
I parked it back in the driveway, and thanked my lucky stars that I have a work-from-home husband, who has a second vehicle I could use. This would otherwise have been an even more expensive and frustrating story had I not had a backup transportation option. I was able to get to work just fine, leaving my car in the driveway to be dealt with later.
And a month later, I was still driving his car, and mine hadn’t moved.
(Are you seeing a pattern here?)
I did in fact google the problems, and talked it over with my father, who is a much more car-adept human. We diagnosed it as a spark plug issue, which is easily fixable. I stop at a car parts store and pick up some extra plugs, and doodads to change them, totaling about $40. Hubs is pretty confident that with some assistance from YouTube, he can handle it.
Turns out, there are even more tools, and extenders, and what-have-yous that we would need, which would add on another $100 or so in one-use items. For a job that is only necessary every 100 thousand miles or so, it seems like it costs more to DIY than it’s truly worth, and we decide to take it in to someone after all.
After several weekends go by where we keep saying “we will take it to the shop today, I swear”, and we still haven’t taken it to the shop, I finally got fed up. I just wanted the dang car fixed and off my to-do list. So I google all the mechanics open, and there aren’t many on a Sunday in the South.
I picked one that had decent reviews and was nearby, and off we went, me in my shaky loud Civic, with hubs loyally trailing behind to take me home while it gets fixed.
This guy, is an interesting character. He has “good old boy” values, I can tell by the way he talks to me like I don’t know a damn thing about cars (I don’t, but that’s not really the point) and calls me “little darling” (eye-rolling and groans are appropriate here).
I keep my annoyance and rage in check, because I just want him to make the car work. I even brought the brand new spark plugs, that I had bought, so all he has to do is the work to change them. I hand over the keys and we drive off.
He calls back with an estimate that seems pretty silly high to me.
I call my dad and talk it over. He agrees to talk to the guy before we authorize anything. When he calls me back, I get the whole story of how hard it is to make a living, and we’re paying for the time and expertise really, yada yada yada. Whatever dude, fine, just fix the car.
We are both pretty annoyed by now, but finally he calls and my car is all ready to roll. We head back, pick up the car, and pay the outrageous $115 and change.
If the story ended there, I would just chalk it up to a good life lesson, and find myself a mechanic I liked and trusted more. But.
About a month later, my car starts doing the exact same thing. It’s shaking, making weird noises, having trouble turning over and starting up. The check engine light is on yet again. I’m so over this I can’t even.
So I’m driving hubs’ car for another few weeks… bless his heart.
There is no way in hell we’re going back to Patronizing McJerkFace, so I google more options. Turns out, Jiffy Lube can do spark plug changes, and there’s one super close to my house. Excellent.
We go there on a Saturday, and the people are super nice. They listened to my whole saga, and let me watch while they took the engine apart. They explained where all the things go and what they do. And then when they took out the plugs, they tell me, “there’s no possible way these were changed recently. This guy basically took your brand new plugs and charged you for not doing this job.”
By now I’m so mad I’m seeing red and shaking.
“I SHOULD SUE! I should drag his name through the mud, what’s the number to the Better Business Bureau!?”
Hubs is being very sweet and talking me down. After much discussion and debate, we decide that it really isn’t worth the time and energy (and money of going to court) to wreak justice upon this predatory asshole. Karma will get him what he deserves someday.
At least by this point, my car HAS actually had its spark plugs changed, I saw it happen with my own eyes. This second change cost another 35 for plugs, and ~85 for labor. It has now taken me a total of about $275 and nearly 4 months, to change my damn spark plugs.
Least you think my procrastination is only of the automotive variety, let me leave you with one more story. This one having to do with a different type of modern vice: the internet.
So we all know that buying your own modem and/or router is the WAY cheaper and better route to go than renting one and paying every month, except in certain cases. Since we bought our home from 1000 miles away, we started our internet service by renting a router from our new
amoral bloodsucker internet provider.
This router came at a cost of $11/month.
We unpacked all the things, began organizing our new home, and realized by the end of the second month that we had an old router which would work! Rejoice! The boy set it up, got it working, and we put the rented router back in its box, to be sent back to its home.
And there it sat, in a box, on a shelf. For months.
First, we needed to contact the company and get the shipping label printed. We put that off for several weeks. Then we needed to actually package it and get it to a USPS or FedEx… which seemed to keep getting pushed further and further down the to-do list. Life happened, we had vacations, dinner parties, weddings to attend, exploring our new home city, and holidays.
Before we knew it, we had lived here a whole year!
And that damn router was still on the shelf.
We finally got our act together, after giving the ISP an extra $143 or so, and sent it back.
Y’all. This is a problem.
With tax season upon us, this is a problem with really big implications this time around. I’ve never actually been late filing taxes, but there have been some close calls. So this year, we took a weekend to go around the house and internet, collecting all the paperwork and proof and such that we need into one big envelope.
Of course, that envelope is currently sitting on the filing cabinet…
I’ve given us a deadline of March 1st, to at the very least run a practice filing through TurboTax, or make an appointment with our “tax guy” (last year was ridiculous with the wedding/name change, filing in 2 states, and buying a house, so yeah we had someone help).
I’ve set an alarm and everything, each day leading up to it, to hopefully annoy us into finishing the task.