Another Day, Another Dollar

Once again, the mid-week has come and gone. It is on these days, Wednesdays and Thursdays, that my wife is in town. I knew from reliable information, given to me by the colleague with whom she overnights on Wednesdays, that she would be back in town this week. So, I reached out as per usual. I had a small gift for her, left over from Christmas, that I wanted to drop off. I emailed the colleague about stopping by to drop it off, and heard nothing back. This was odd. So, I did not go. Instead, I came straight home after work.

I was checking email and other sundries, including our bank accounts for the weekly budget, when I noticed something odd: there was suddenly a whole lot more money in my wife’s account. She has been keeping a very low balance for months and months, largely because she has almost no work, and thus no income, and also because she has an account at another bank that she keeps secret from me. I do know of the existence of this account, so it’s not entirely secret, but I have no access to it, even though I am her husband. So it was quite a surprise when a deposit in the four-digit range showed up suddenly. It was not a round figure, either: there were cents after that dollar amount. And that dollar amount was at least three times higher than the largest deposit she has made in a long, long time. This was confusing: where did that money come from? And why would she put it in her account at our bank, right where I can see it? Obviously she must trust me, because I’m not touching those funds, but it just seems odd — very odd. There are many possible explanations, and I am entertaining none of them.

This morning I still had the gifts, and I thought about dropping them by today. I had a number of errands to run in the morning, and just as I was finishing up those errands and about to come home, I got in the car, and … nothing. Just, “click,” as the starter tried to engage, but nothing more. As some of you might know, the battery in my car is quite new, having just been replaced, along with the cables, a few months ago. So my first thoughts were that the starter had gone bad.

I called AAA and had one of their battery trucks come out to have a look, and indeed it seemed to be the starter. I then went home to price this out, and found a local mechanic who could do it, so I called AAA again and got a tow truck to bring the car in.

The mechanic got to work, and, since I was due for new front brakes, I asked him to price those out and just take care of the whole deal. That fell pretty much within budget, but at the high end of what I’d allow. So, I sat in the lobby as they worked, and after about an hour, I heard the mechanic turn the key to test the new starter and… “click.”


He came out and told me he’d need to keep it a bit longer to figure out what was going on. So, I went home.

By this time, I’m playing phone tag with various clients I’ve had to reschedule, when the mechanic calls me back. It turned out that the after-market amplifier that was installed (we bought the car used, and the amplifier was in it already) was hooked up to the electrical system with sub-standard cable. Over time, this had the effect of prematurely draining the battery (likely leading to the corrosion that killed off my last battery cables), and to wearing down the starter faster as well. The mechanic then told me I needed oil, which I knew already — I had stopped by the auto parts store to buy oil this morning, since it was running low, and it was right after that, at my next stop, that the starter died — so I had him go ahead and change the oil as well. I was shocked that he quoted me a figure for synthetic oil that was a fraction of what these oil-change joints charge. Guess I’ll be staying away from Jiffy Lube, et al., from here on out.

So, the bill ended up being about $135 more than anticipated. If I had a normal marriage right now, there would be no issue: we’d just appropriate that money from this deposit my wife just made.

But, we don’t have a normal marriage right now, and I’ll be absorbing the whole dang thing. (My auto-repair fund is still open for donations via the “donate” link, FYI. <wink, wink>) I’ll get the car back tomorrow morning.

The good news is that I will have the car up and running in time for a concert on Saturday. I guess I have not written about this yet, but it is a benefit concert that is being put on by a couple of my wife’s friends, one of whom now lives out of state and will be traveling here just for the performance. I have known many of the people involved for quite a long time, and it is for a good cause, so I had planned on going. The big bonus is that it is also highly likely that my wife will be there, with the adulterer in tow. This makes for one of those golden yet rare opportunities to insert myself into that dynamic of relationship dynamite, functioning like the blasting cap that could blow that adulterous farce sky high. Plus, Saturday is a work day for me, and I have a lot of ground to cover, so I need the vehicle to get it all done.

The other bonus is that I have found a trustworthy (and affordable) mechanic. Those sure are hard to come by these days. Almost as hard as face time with the wife.