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November 24, 2009

Alert: Auto askings looming

My car registration is due today, which means an opportunity for asking is just around the corner: the smog check.

As those following this blog for some time know, my darling 1995 nissan maxima has been on life support for the last year. It comes close so to the brink, and then fights on, thanks to repairs by Mr. A and, for the more complicated stuff, my trusty mechanic, Les.

What that means, smog wise, is that my car just might, might fail the test.

Before living in Boston for seven years, I would have accepted the test result and planned accordingly.

But in Boston, I learned something awesome. The price of a safety inspection? $29.95. The price of a safety inspection pass certificate? Asking for one, and/or a crisp Jackson.

My car has tinted windows, you see, and that's legal in Texas (where I picked it up from my dad). But they were too dark for Massachusetts. So every year, for five years, I asked, begged, and cajoled the safety inspectors to let it slide. And once, someone I know may have offered a generous "tip" for their accommodating services. Because removing the tint would be costly or (if I did it myself, which was more likely) create a hazardous (and nasty looking) zebra print. Also, I knew I was just passing through. Any year in Boston could have been my last. Why go to all that trouble for something as arbitrary as the tint percentage of the Commonwealth's motor vehicle code?

This time around I'm not planning on bribing anyone, but if there's some small hitch, and it's not some crazy safety problem, I will definitely ask for a break.

What all that means, car wise, is that I really am overdue for an upgrade. I know I've been threatening to do this since last fall, but now I mean it. I've stashed some cash. All I need is time. Once I turn in a complete draft of the dissertation I'm going to hit the lots.

And I hope you, gentle reader, will tag along as I delve into the negotiation process and try to get the best deal known to askerdom!
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