Tuesday, April 04, 2006

April Fools’ Day: Rats!

Saturday morning, I took my car in to the shop because the A/C wasn’t working. A few hours later, the A/C tech calls. “I have something interesting to tell you.” “Interesting?”

“Yeah. You had a rat nest in your engine. The rat seems to have chewed up the wire harness. Unfortunately, we can’t help you with this. I suggest that you take it to the dealership.”

A few hours later, at the dealership, the shop tech and the service manager give me their report. “Well, lucky for you, we can repair the wire harness. It won’t have to be replaced.”


“Let’s see. That’ll cost just about $280. That’s not bad. We’ve seen rat repairs cost well over a grand.”

Grand, indeed, I thought. Grand, indeed.

“But, while the car was up on the lift, we noticed that you have one bushing that is completely broken and another that’s cracked. If you don’t repair them both, they’ll ruin your nice new tires. Looks like the timing belt needs to be replaced, too; along with a couple of other belts.”

(I'm thinking, "Bushing?" I thought bushings were leafy green things that grow on hills. Like the burning bushing that spoke to Moses.)

“How much?”

“Give or take, about $1100.00.” Talk about getting burned by a bushing!

Norma is in the parking lot, sitting in her car, waiting and reading.

“How about you tell this to my wife. She’s the decision maker in the family.”

Sub-total by Saturday, 5 PM: $1245.00. The good news was that it only took the dealership’s Service Department three hours to finish the job. $350 an hour or so. Just goes to show you how valuable good service really is these days!

Before I left the dealership in my repaired vehicle, I asked the service advisor how to keep the rats away from my car in the future.

“Put moth balls in old panty hose and hang them in the engine cavity,” he told me. “You know, we used to only see this kind of thing in the cars of people who lived on the outskirts of town. In the last year, though, we’ve seen more and more of it in-town.”

But before we left, Norma insisted that I open the hood of her car. Fool you once, why not twice? Clearly, a rodent had started building a nest in her engine compartment, too. However, this nest wasn’t nearly as far along. There was no apparent damage to any visible wiring.

Can’t you just hear the rats gossiping?

Rat #1: “Oh, I do love my home. It’s so beautiful… and my neighbors are all fat cats. They don’t run, they waddle.”

Rat #2:“Mine are, too. My two-footed chauffeur takes me all over town to the best shopping malls in town and brings me home again.”

Rat #3 “You just haven't lived until you've tasted the oranges on the tree in my backyard. My two-foot takes such good care of them. They’re fabulous!”

To rat out the rats, the City of Phoenix has a rodent hotline. According to the voice at the other end of the line, once rats have been identified around the house, the best thing to do is call an exterminator in right away. Rats also find roofs, basements, attics, crawlspaces and walls to be quite congenial.

Ha, ha! Don’t say you weren’t warned! It's no joke. And it could happen to anyone.

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