My car needed some warranty work done last week.
Because it's still under warranty, I take it to the dealership in Winston-Salem. This particular job included fixing the timing on the windshield wipers (which would wipe first and spray later), and fixing the express window on the driver's side (the window would, on occasion and on its own, roll back down to reopen after rolling to the top to close).
I had to wait a few days as a part that was ordered arrived, but when I made my appointment, I made arrangements for a courtesy car since all of this service was happening out of town.
I like courtesy cars. They are, almost always, current model year vehicles with just a handful of miles on them. They smell new. Courtesy cars give me an opportunity to test drive other vehicles that I might want to consider buying sometime in the future.
On this particular day — Halloween Eve — all of that changed.
The dealership, apparently, was swamped with customers and its fleet of courtesy cars was close to depleted. So when it came to my turn, the loaner waiting for me was a 13-year-old vehicle with 134,000 miles on it.
The ignition key was actually a real, old-timey key without a hint of remoteness. The interior smelled suspiciously of grade 87 octane fuel. Lawnmower gas, as my father-in-law liked to say.
Whoa. The worst was yet to come. When the service rep filled out what would serve as my license/registration paper, he wrote down the serial number. "Oh, lookit this..." he said with surprising nonchalance while writing down the numerals, "6-6-6..."
You've got to be kidding me. The day before Halloween and I get the AntiChrist's own car?
I had no choice. I hopped in, belted up, started the ignition and headed home. The car rattled the whole way. It pulled a little to the right. At least the radio was working. I turned up NPR even louder to drown out the mysterious rattles.
But everything worked out in the end. My wife told me to cool it — the loaner was actually six years newer than her own car — so it could be worse. And why do I need a new car for a loaner anyway?
I suppose she's right. I just hope the next time I need a courtesy car, it's closer to Christmas than Halloween.