As I have mentioned here before, my dad died before I was born. I grew up watching sitcom fathers on television. I went to my best friend’s house and watched her father (I can only think of one friend whose house I regularly visited in my my teenage years who had a father in their daily life).
What did I learn from all this observation?
I learned that a dad’s job is to make sure your car gets fixed properly.
I bought my first car in 1997. Since that time I have thought of the Service Manager at my local GM dealership as my Pseudo Dad.
1. not actually but having the appearance of; pretended; false or spurious; sham.
2. almost, approaching, or trying to be.
He is old enough to be my Dad, but he is maybe 5 years younger than my mother. That would make him about 20 years younger than my actual dead dad.
You can’t argue with my logic. He always makes sure my car gets fixed.
Me in my first car. 1989 Pontiac Grand Am
I present to you some semi-boring examples of car repair below.
My first car, a 1989 Pontiac Grand Am, started making very bad banging sounds when I went over bumps. I thought it might be a problem with the shock. I was partially correct. The problem was a hole had rusted right through the trunk, and now my shock was actually in my trunk. I made arrangements to get it fixed the same afternoon. My pseudo dad called me that evening to tell me about a friend of his who could fix it at a discount for me. As I had already dropped my car off somewhere else, I didn’t take him up on it. In retrospect, I probably could have saved some money if I had taken his recommendation.
On one occasion, I took in my second car, a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am, to get the oil changed. It had been making a bad sound when I drove, but as I had no money to get it fixed, I was ignoring it. Well, it turned out it was a bad wheel hub or bearing or one of those things in your wheel that is expensive and goes bad regularly on all the Pontiacs I have ever owned. My Psuedo Dad wanted to fix it right then, but he could tell from my questions that that wasn’t my plan. He asked why, so I told him. I didn’t have any money until I got my paycheck, which would be a week away. He had the mechanic do the repair on my car. All I paid for that day was the oil change. They trusted me to come back in a week and actually pay them several hundred dollars, which I did. My husband would say that it was probably some sort of critical repair that they weren’t allowed by law to let me leave without repairing it. But no one told me that at the time. So I choose to believe that my Pseudo Dad was just trying to help me out.
On another visit to the dealership (Probably for an oil change. I am pretty diligent about those. 203,000 miles on my current car proves that it is a smart strategy.) with the same 1994 Grand Am, my Pseudo Dad noticed that I had a sock tied to my drivers side mirror. Now, there was a logical reason for this. A semi had ripped my side mirror loose in a freak freeway entrance ramp merge gone bad. It was only hanging from the cords that connected it to the handle inside the car for adjustment. I tied the sock to the mirror so that it would prevent/reduce the mirror from scratching up the paint on the side of my car as it bounced around. My Pseudo Dad asked me if that is how I was drying my laundry. He found it very amusing. I did eventually get the mirror replaced, but I never got it painted. So the replaced mirror was flat black and the original one was glossy black.
A few months back, I thought my 2004 Pontiac Aztek was dead for good. I went to run an errand. I shut my car off and ran inside. When I returned to my car, it would not start at all. I had had no problem starting it 5 minutes before when I was at home. And it started to do this weird buzzing thing, where the needles on all my gauges would bounce up and down in sync with the buzzing. I left the car and walked home. I was afraid it would blow up. (That would have been REALLY bad. I left it in the parking lot of my insurance agent. If my car burns down their building, do they still have to pay out the insurance for my car?) The next day we made a plan to take it up to the dealership to pronounce it dead. My husband ended up letting the tow truck company take it back to their garage, because he thought maybe it was just the battery. (Just a battery? But the thing WAS TICKING LIKE A TIME BOMB!) When I called to cancel the appointment with my Pseudo Dad, he talked to me for about 10 minutes, explaining how to check the voltage to see if it was a bad battery vs. a bad alternator. And he explained how a low battery can set off the anti-theft device. (I was not even aware that my car HAD an anti-theft device!)
When it comes to car repair, Pseudo Dads and GM Service Managers know what they are talking about. I don’t think my Pseudo Dad is still the manager. I think he has stepped back and is helping to train the new manager. Which is fine, as long as he is still there. Hopefully his retirement and my purchase of my dream car, a Jeep Wrangler, will coincide with each other.
My Pseudo Dad does not have the conventional looks of a sitcom dad. But, I am proud to call him my fake dad. Except that I don’t tell him I think of him that way. Because, you know, that would be weird…