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We are — Really, it’s a confluence of anticipated expenses and one hideous Sunday spent having my car inspected. I drive a 2009 VW Tiguan, which I love, and I certainly didn’t expect it to fail inspection…..but that’s MUCH further along in the story of my day at the Firestone Service Center.

AND, I really DO like this auto center. They’ve never steered me wrong and have always been able to squeeze me in, whether I’ve got a flat, a mysterious warning light, or am four months late for the state inspection (no, not this time….a couple of years ago).

I would have been late this year, too, though, had it not been for the SECOND light on the car burning out this week. A couple of weeks ago, I started receiving messages from the car that the “Front Left Dipped Beam is Not Working”. After establishing that the dipped beam is a daytime running light and doesn’t come into play when you actually NEED headlights to drive at night, I ignored it.

Last Wednesday, “Tigi” let me know that my right rear brake light had also given up the ghost. Now, that’s an issue — in the stop and go traffic in town, the ability to flash your brake lights is critical. With TWO lights out, the chances of getting pulled over exponentially (my rough calculation) increase. I’d probably end up getting a ticket for being under the influence of Starbucks. At least my inspection wasn’t due….oh, .but it WAS – sure enough, April 2012.

Made an appointment for noon Sunday and even showed up early. First hour, no problem. Walked down the street for lunch, read a book, almost looking like some really relaxing time ALONE.

Then, they called me up to the service desk — done already? NO. They couldn’t find my wheel lock key (see exhibit A below). No two (or at least no two in 1,000) are alike, and they stop people from stealing your wheels/tires. Terrific invention, if, and only if, your make and model starred in any one of the Fast and the Furious franchise movies. Otherwise, a complete pain in the ass. We bought one Jetta an hour away only to find out that the dealer accidentally KEPT the wheel lock key. Others have gotten loose from their perch (inside the spare tire, FYI) and rolled around in the frame of the car, almost impossible to catch.

So, I say, “Isn’t it in with the jack?” Their response, “Yeah, I looked in there – looked like nobody had been in there in a long time, ” gesturing to the tightly wrapped vinyl tool kit that came with the car, “There’s a ton of dog hair back there, too.” GEE….SORRY.

So, I personally tore the car apart in the service bay, while the rest of the mechanics gathered around to try the handful of wheel lock keys that they happen to have stolen  in their workstations. No luck. I also called Scott who helpfully confirmed that he knows EXACTLY where HIS wheel lock for the Jetta is (….cause that’s how HE rolls. I lost ONE important receipt in 1999, and I’m ALWAYS at fault now – blech!)

So, for $100, I get both light bulbs replaced and ONE sticker (emissions) towards a complete inspection. I fly home and start tearing the house apart, while Scott offers infinitely MORE helpful suggestions along the lines of, “maybe you put it in one of your purses the last time you had it in for service?” Right, because, besides lip gloss and tampons, I carry wheel lock keys with me. Bastard.

Two nanoseconds away from giving up (read as – ready to spend $100 to buy one from the VW dealer) — and I find it….in a “secret” pouch inside the above-mentioned tool kit. Unf-ingbelievable. Drove right back down there — gathered the mechanics and threw Mr.-I-Already-Checked-in-There Service Adviser under the proverbial bus.

I was feeling so relieved and vindicated that I cruised on over to Marshall’s for the 30 minutes they needed to finish the inspection. And, it was there…at the cash register, having just spent $100 on the kids and I, that I got the news that the rear brakes and front tires failed inspection. I personally “inspected” the offending items a few minutes later, and they were, indeed, shot to hell.

Grand total for the afternoon (including Marshall’s) = $800. Now I just need to pay the deposit on our beach rental, buy end-of-the-year teacher gifts, purchase raffle tickets for the twins’ Spring Fling at school, order spirit wear for the intermediate school they’ll attend next year, and sign them up for summer camp.

Must. stop. the. bleeding………