Whenever I have to shell out a lot of money for something, the catch phrase I like to use is: Wow, that’s a lot of opera videos. Actually, I most often use the phrase when we come into a bit of unexpected money, such as when a juicy check comes in for some piano accompanying or something else I’ve done. “Wow- $150! That’ll buy a lot of opera videos” is sure to get a very pained smile from my wife. The truth is that I haven’t been in the serious opera video-buying business for quite some time now, and whenever we come into a little extra “fun” money, it tends to get spent on something we can both enjoy- but I can’t resist the temptation to push my wife’s buttons.
Well, this week I had to use the phrase for the output rather than the input of funds. . . specifically in fixing the brakes on my Honda. By the time Midas was done replacing the front brakes and all four tires, we were looking at a bill of $700. When a car has 112,000 miles on it, such expenditures are not exactly an astonishing surprise, but still. . . when I think of the opera videos I could buy with $700 – or better yet, the Christmas gifts I could buy for my loved ones, I get a sort of sour feeling in my stomach. And I’m sure a big part of that sick feeling is the unsettling atmosphere in which all of us are living right now and the sinking feeling that our wallet is not nearly as full as it once was. . . even if we haven’t suffered any of the tangible reversals that so many people have. (At least not yet.) It ends up feeling even worse than usual to have to spend that kind of money on something as “un-sexy” as brakes and tires.
Then again, my understanding is that brakes are a fairly important part of one’s car- and poorly functioning brakes are counterproductive to a long and happy life – and I’m also told that when one lives in Wisconsin in the winter it’s dumber than dumb to drive on bald tires. So maybe it’s time for me to stop complaining and be glad that I could drive the car to Midas safe and sound without duplicating that famous commercial where the car plows right through the front window of the place. I should also be glad that I didn’t have to be towed there with a tree trunk stuck in the front fender, which very easily could have happened had I delayed much longer.
Maybe most of all, I should be thankful that we had the money for these repairs. . . because for a lot of people who are a lot worse off than we are, this would have been a disastrous turn of events. For us, it was basically a bit of unwelcome unpleasantness – which in the grand scheme of things is hardly worth complaining about.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped me from complaining, has it?!?
pictured: This is the only car photo I had handy – I have no idea what I was trying to take a picture of when I snapped this.