atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#5312: The advantage of business over government

Took the Jeep to the usual place to get smogged. Doing this on the penultimate day of the month is not the best time, and if I'd had a choice I wouldn't have. First time in a very long one that I had to wait. There was a long line of vehicles, so long that it trailed out into the street. I drove past at first, not understanding; then turned around and took my place in line, in the street.

I had intended--hoped--to get this over with quickly enough that I could make it to the DMV to get the plates renewed today. Knowing that I had slept in on purpose and with malice aforethought, I had nonetheless hoped to get it all done in one swell foop. But with that kind of line, I realized ruefully, it wasn't going to happen.

As I waited, I noticed vehicles pulling into and out of the little parking lot adjoining the test facility, but I didn't really think much of it. Twenty minutes after I finally got into the driveway, I pulled into a test bay. That part took two minutes, roughly...and in the little room they have you wait in during the test, there was advertising. It was pretty obvious that the emissions testing had been contracted out to a private company, because for one thing there was a flyer there advising that they were looking for part-time workers to run emissions tests. ($8 an hour!) But the one which was most important to me was a little standing box of handbills which gave important news.

They renew plates right there. It costs an extra $7.50 to do it.

$7.50--my time is worth a hell of a lot more than that to me. If I were to go to the DMV to get my plates renewed, even assuming I could have done it today? Fight asshole traffic to get there, stand in line at the door to get permission from one bureaucrat to go deeper into the building (even though I know where to go) and then stand in line there to get my plates renewed. What would it take, an hour from the time I left the testing facility? Probably ninety minutes, assuming I got there in time, and I couldn't remember if the DMV closed at 5 or 6. In all liklihood I could have done it--I was in a testing bay by 4:30--but it would be a pain.

Test passed, I went around the building and parked, and after that I waited five minutes to get my renewal sticker; and instead of having to fight my way through Chicago Heights to the DMV, I was able to go right home. That was a well-spent $7.50.

That's the difference between private business and government. Someone was smart enough to realize that if they were to use part of the little office space tacked onto the testing bays as a place where people could renew their license plates--because that's the only reason people come there, is to get their vehicles tested so they can renew their plates!--if they did that, they could make money charging a convenience fee. And people will pay it to avoid waiting in line for half an hour at the DMV.

...so tomorrow, now, I don't have to futz with it.

* * *

Before all that, of course, I replaced the O2 sensor. The replacement has been sitting on my desk since last Thursday. That was just a matter of remove and replace; I didn't even have to jack up the truck.

Here's the oddity: I remember that the Jeep did not, at first, complain about the O2 sensor, that the "check engine" light stayed out for a few days after my repair job. Well, apparently the light came on because the sensor was unplugged. The wrench I picked wasn't quite fitting the O2 sensor well enough to pop it loose, so I wanted to put the box end over it, but I needed to pull the cable through it--and that's when I realized the harness end was missing. Where--? Oh, great, it's by the friggin' transfer case.

I'm lucky it didn't wrap around the drive shaft. Replacing that f-ing connector would have sucked.

Anyway, got it in and buttoned up and safely fastened up out of the way, and pulled the battery cable, and everything worked fine.

I'm thinking that the broken wire on the old sensor was the ground wire. Having a broken ground shouldn't matter in a vehicle, where everything is grounded to the chassis; that's probably why it worked and I could probably have gotten away with just hooking the plug back up and letting it go, had I known. But I'd run the chance of getting all the way over to the testing station only to fail, because maybe the O2 sensor would work well enough to keep the light off but still throw codes, you know?

And the sensor cost about $37 with shipping. F it.

So for the first time in months I drove my truck without the "check engine" light on, and I'm now having to get used to it being off. Well, this is progress.

I hope the thing continues to get 20 MPG and doesn't go back to 18.

* * *

Other little bit: had to get gas, as the "low fuel" light went on while I was driving home yesterday. As I was driving up to the gas station, I saw the price changing; it went from $2.389 to $2.349 as I watched. Kind of neat, something I've not seen before. I've seen the guy out there changing numbers by hand, but not a digital display changing. And it was even in the right direction. With my Shell Rewards card I saved an extra $0.03, too.

* * *

Oh! Sunday--

Sunday I got off work at 6:35. That's when I punched out.

See, my anniversary was the 17th, and my ID badge stopped working at the scanners, so I now have to get a temporary badge at the security desk. I have to surrender my driver's license to get one. On Sunday the 21st I told my supervisor that I needed a new ID badge; that request disappeared into the ether and my sup went on vacation on Monday. So a week later, still no badge, and I was still tendering my DL to get a temp ID every day. Yeah. Including Sunday.

So I punch out at 6:35, delighted that I was able to leave after a pretty positive call, and I went to the desk to claim my DL and go home.

No guard.

Okay, people gotta hit the can once in a while, and I know the guard also has to walk around the place every so often. That shouldn't take very long, I figured. There's a little office behind the desk which is security-related, so after waiting ten minutes I knocked on the door, to no avail.

So after waiting at the desk for twenty minutes, I sought out the operations manager on duty. "How does one find the security guard when he's not at his desk?"

"Oh...well, he's probably doing rounds. You'll have to look for him. Try looking in the lunchroom or down by the classrooms."

Thanks a ton, you useless shithead.

I wander around, I wait at the front desk some more, I wander around some more--finally stopping at my desk and putting in a change request for my punch-out time to reflect the fact that it is now 7:16 PM, forty-five minutes after I punched out, and I'm held prisoner because my ID is being held hostage for a stupid ID and the goddamned security guard is nowhere to be found--and then I head out to the security desk to wait some more. Mirabile visu the guard is there, and I am shortly on my way.

Low fuel light is on; on my way to the highway I miss the turn to the gas station, and I decide to hit a gas station somewhere on the way home. I am too angry at the security guard stupidity at work to think coherently, so it's not until I'm some miles down the road that I realize how low the gas gauge is. Realizing that I need fuel soonest, I activate the GPS and have it locate a gas station for me.

Does it give directions, such as "Bob's Gas and Stuff, NE 1.4 mi"? Hell no! It gives an arrow, and no indication of what that arrow means. I figure it's map orientation, meaning that when it's pointing up that means north, so when I select the one that I'm taking to be 1.8 miles south of me--as I am heading south anyway--the fucking thing tells me to turn around and get back on the highway going north! I cancel that one, find a place to pull off the local road, select the next nearest one, and head out.

It takes me to a vacant lot. Okay, the next nearest one is a couple more miles away, let's go there...it takes me to a vacant storefront. Look, I know the GPS is out of date, but come on! This place isn't even a gas station, and it never was! What the fuck.

Seething mad now, and worried about the fuel state, I pick another gas station, which is three miles away in the opposite direction I was just traveling. Of course I get behind a fucking shithead who can only go about 42 in a 45 zone. By the time I near my destination I am fit to be tied.

But it's a gas station. An open, operating gas station. It's not the one the GPS said was there, but I don't even care about that. I pull in and it's 7:40 PM, which is 10 minutes after I usually get home.

$20 later, I'm heading back to the highway. In the meantime I've taken a call from Mrs. Fungus, who had been apprised of my plight and who was suggesting we go to that good mexican place with the huge chimichangas. Deciding that food and a margerita would help my mood immensely, I agreed.

They did.
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