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Analyze This, Part 6B-2: On the Road Again

by Vol-E

                                                        Ain't I gorgeous??

A couple of years ago I read a book called The Numerati, which described how corporations "mine" data in the form of innocent, unsuspecting mentions by Facebook users and bloggers, of the things they happen to buy. This is perhaps a cost-saving measure by the corporations: They don't have to spend money on surveys, in which people will lie anyway (well, some people). I set out to describe everything I own with a generous disclosure of all the brand names.

Oh, but then I ran out of steam. Here's where I left off, and once this post is up, I'll retrace my steps and throw a few dozen more brand names out there. Quite a lot has changed since my last such post.

I drive a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt coupe. It's teal blue, at least for now. A few more years, it will be a faded, sun-bleached memory of teal blue. The Clear Coat started coming off shortly after I bought this vehicle in 2010. First there was this little bubble, and eventually an entire panel on the driver's side was stripped away. The roof has had a sunburn for years, and now it's spread to the hood.

I love my car, and will really feel a pang when that day comes to trade it in at the dealership. Anyone who has owned a car 10 or more years of age knows the dilemma: Approximately 1.8 nanoseconds after you stop making payments and own the car "free" and clear, things start to break down, and the repairs are roughly equivalent to the amount you were sending to the bank for three or four years. I went through this with my previous ride, a 1997 Ford Exploder Explorer, semi-fondly known as The Beast. I should have unloaded it the moment I moved to this small city with narrow streets. But life got busy and the paycheck got smaller, and it seemed wise to hang onto the behemoth. Finally, the head gasket blew and rather than fork over $1500 to repair it, I sold it to a junk dealer and got $300 for my trouble. A loan from my 401K enabled me to make the down payment on the Cobalt, back in 2010.

The Cobalt has been wonderful. Yes, baby, I'm talking about you, you sweet little cupcake on wheels, you. Smoochy, smoochy, who loves ya, baby? This may seem like a strange way to address an inanimate object, but hey, we really do have a pretty intimate relationship. I say things out loud when I'm alone in the car that my husband, my son, and even my cats have never heard escape my lips. This car has endured my dreadful singing (just this morning I brought myself to a full state of wakefulness by belting counterpoint to "The Jet Song" from my West Side Story Soundtrack CD. I guarantee, there is not a sentient being anywhere on the planet who would feel honored by such a serenade. But my car accepts it with grace, never stalling or backfiring, which is what most people would  do in response to a demonstration of my "talents."

Let's see, what wonderful assets does my car possess? A racing stripe and discreet Chevrolet logo on the sides; a spoiler; two very good side-view mirrors that can be adjusted up, down and sideways from within; an AM-FM radio with CD player; front and rear window defoggers; heat and air conditioning; auto locks; auto lights; cruise control; anti-lock brakes; a little trap door in the back seat that gives you access to the trunk, or enables you to store something oversized like a kayak paddle; the battery in the trunk, who'da thunk -- but it certainly comes in handy when you need a jump start. It has the original floor mats, which are now quite worn, especially on the driver's side. It has a center console, which lifts up to reveal a teeny little coin holder, which is typically empty, though occasionally filled with pennies that always manage to get sticky from some drive-thru junk food. My Cobalt also has "map pockets" inside the doors. I use them for litter, not maps. Who needs maps when you've got ... a smartphone?

A-ha! But you'll have to wait for my next post to hear about that, you data-miners you.

I recall it took a few weeks to figure out how to open the trunk from inside the car. There's a little button inside a pull-down door, where I guess the fuses are. I also keep a quarter in there, for when I visit Aldi (if you want a shopping cart, you have to rent it for a quarter, which you get back upon return of the cart. Aldi's a GREAT grocery store, by the way). One thing my Cobalt doesn't have is a locking gas cap. The kind you have to open by pressing the little button down near the driver's seat that looks like a gas pump. I don't have one of those. I suspect whoever designed the car thought they were being clever: By putting the gas cap on the passenger side, they thought it would fool evildoers who sought to siphon my gas. If they can't find the gas cap (since most of them are on the driver's side), then they can't siphon. That's an interesting theory, but I hope my next car has the cap on the driver's side. That's probably the one thing I don't like a whole lot about my car. But it's a small thing.

Oil changes are done at Valvoline. According to Wikipedia, Valvoline is owned by Ashland Inc., an American Fortune 500 company which operates in more than 100 countries. Headquartered in Covington, Kentucky, in the United States, the company traces its roots back to Ashland, Kentucky.

I like Valvoline. Getting your car serviced there is like watching off-off-off-Broadway theatre. They have a script they follow with almost military precision. I always let them change out my air filter or some other "extra," because if I don't, I'm afraid they'll court-martial me.

Precision Tune is my alternate venue for service. The best thing about Precision Tune is, you can get credit. Their credit used to be administered through G.E. Capital, but a few years ago they moved it over to something called Synchrony Bank. I haven't needed to use their credit for some time. This is another tool to help me determine when it's time to trade my baby in: When repairs get expensive enough to seek credit through Synchony, then it's time to visit the local dealership. I hope that when this happens, they'll fix whatever needs fixing, repaint Baby, re-do the Clear Coat, and sell her at a reasonable price to someone who will love her as much as I do.

Maybe I'll throw in the West Side Story CD. Such a deal.


So much data to mine! And told in such an appealing fashion.

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