Thursday, October 31, 2013

my favorite mechanic.

i hate having a car. well, maybe hate is a harsh word. i love the convenience - hopping the car five minutes before i need to be at school (or 20 minutes before i enter the university) and getting there quickly. i like not having to pay for taxis when i grocery shop, or for public cars on a daily basis.

but, man, upkeep of a car is not my thing.
i hate the carwash. i hate getting oil changed. i hate waiting to put gas in the car.

and to illustrate how much i hate it.... there's this (funny) little story about how my tires were so bald (i know, dangerous) that when i was changing flat tires every three days. and when i went to pick up my brother at the airport in july (remember that: JULY), i ran over something and stripped the tire.

the band of rubber then flapped around until i got to a gas station to see what on earth had happened. and while it was flapping around, it might have pulled out my left-side high beam and all of the wires for my turn signals. luckily, i still had my "regular" head lights and my right turn signal.

friends. this was in july.

today, i took my car to the mechanic! better late than never... and the looming end-date for the revista, the ridiculous dominican version of state-testing for cars that only checks that the car's lights work (no emissions testing here! woo hoo!) had me a little worried.

he just dropped on the ground and started
checking things out!
i'm a magnet for traffic cops. (i'm also super skilled at getting out of tickets - and, knock on wood, haven't gotten one here).
there are two "stickers" that cars need to be legal in the DR (in addition to the license plates and insurance): a revista, which costs just 25 pesos and checks to make sure cars are not night-dangers, and a marbete, which is basically just a vehicle-tax (price varies depending on the year, make and model).

i, as of today, have neither.

i haven't gotten the marbete, because, well, i don't need to get it until the end of november, so i worked it into the budget for the 10th. no big deal. but the revista is more complicated - the lights needed to be in working order.

and obviously i haven't had any time to do that since july.
and obviously i know so many electricians.

just kidding.
so i went to the tire shop (because those guys know me - and my middle and last name, where i live, where i'm from, my favorite food and the name of my first grade teacher. i spent a lot of time in the tire shop until i got new tires on the stupid car). i asked my friends for a recommendation, and luckily they have a guy.

only god knows what this fellow was working on -
but he kept working on it with the rain pouring down on him.
named chi-chi (pronounced chee-chee). it dominican, that means "baby." i have a hard time with grown men called baby.

after driving around a bit, i found him.
now, i'm no shop-rat. but i love this place (if you're in the philadelphia area and need body work done, the guys at whitemarsh collision are your guys. they're nice, and pretty cute - though, i'm biased because we're blood, y'all) and i'm used to clean and professional and, okay, maybe not clean, but at least orderly.

maybe i can even deal with disorganized. but inside? is that too much to ask?

i found chi-chi and just told him i needed some help. my spanish is pretty excellent, and i don't necessarily scream gringa, but a woman in a mechanic shop already has me at a disadvantage in this country. he comes over, asks what's wrong.

a kid nick-named chino took care of us - chino
because his eyes are similar to that of a
chinese person.
dude, i have no lights.
easy. they pop the hood, look around and get right down to work - no estimate, no questions. the only commentary was about how my japanese car was backwards. (to be fair, it is backwards).

turn the lights on. turn it off. turn the car on. turn it off.

and then he hands me some light bulbs and tells me "go to the repuesto on the corner and buy this stuff."
um, no.
so far, i've gotten by - no gringa comments, no smart-aleck commentary about where my husband might be. but i was not going to the parts store. this is no pep-boys. it's where all the hoodlums with two-bit scooters hang out and think they're cool. no thanks.
so i convinced chi-chi to go with me. we bought the stuff and headed back to the shop parking spot.

it started to pour. chi-chi kept working - so un-dominican. within a few hours, i had working headlights, high-beams, fog lights and turn signals.
the passenger side window still doesn't go down.

in all, not a terrible experience. i probably shouldn't have waited so long. tomorrow i'll get the revista and be on my way.

total cost? $700 pesos --- about $17 dollars.

1 comment:

Randee Colton said...

It's good that you have a mechanic you really trust. That way, you're assured of proper maintenance without the exorbitant costs. Not to mention, you can be good friends with them and they can really give good advice on car-related issues.

Randee Colton @