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CRZ Sells Out

Introduction (to My Car)



This column originally appeared on It was written 22 January 2000.

I had really planned on getting this done a lot earlier.

Tuesday, I drove my car to the post office to check my PO Box as I often do. I expected to have rather a lot of mail, as the day before was the Martin Luther King holiday, where they DON'T deliver mail (they seem to not deliver mail on an awful lot of holidays - I've often wished I'd gone into the post office for my career - well, except for the apalling lack of salary), which should have given any mail I HAD been expecting a chance to really pile up.

This was some time after ten, when all the boxes were suppposed to have been filled, according to the sign on the wall, which used to say "Mail delivered to all boxes by 9:30 AM" but was changed because that was a lie.

On this particular day, perhaps owing to the fact that there *was* a lot of extra mail, my bank of boxes was still turned round and waiting for mail. No delivery yet. Not that that stopped the guy filling the boxes from lying to me.

"Have you gotten to these boxes yet?"

"Oh yuh, yuh, just let me turn them back around for yuh."

He did, I opened mine, and saw...nothing.

Well, that was a waste.

Going back outside to drive to work - I have a real job, though you'd never know it from the seemingly endless amounts of content I have taken it upon myself to produce - I started the car.

Well, that's a lie too. At least the "started" part is.

The car completely, utterly failed to start.

I've been in this situation before - you expect it when you drive a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle. My choice of car came in 1995 when I first started out at a small ISP in Cupertino - it cost less than I had in my savings account, it ran great, and it was quirky - a must in the Silicon Valley, where you either drive a car you paid for with vested stock options (thus ensuring it's terribly extravagant and unnecessarily expensive) or a car you found in an alley somewhere, which says, "I'm at a startup - I'll buy the Mercedes after my stock vests."

I pushed the car, naively thinking I could get it to fire up *that* way. Forunately for me, there's a bit of a slope, so all I had to do was ride it out for a ways in neutral, then pop the clutch...but it slowly chugged dead. Apparently, it was an electrical problem.

Fortunetly, I still had the Sysadmin On Call cel phone with me, so I called AAA to get a tow truck to take me to Bugformance. It took the guy almost an hour to get to me - probably owing to the fact that he REALLY couldn't miss having a big lunch before picking me up - and even worse, he was one of those "say no to crack" dudes. You know the ones I'm talking about; he would have made a GREAT plumber.

So we got to Bugformance where I left the car with their mechanic, who charges per hour as if he were a Web consultant. I guess it's nice work if you can get it. I went across the street to Yoshinoya to fill up before walking the three miles back home and waiting for their call.

On my way back, I checked the post office one more time - since it *was* on the way and I was feeling a lot of mistrust (which, ironically, has nothing to do with my mechanic). Sure enough, there was the Kraftwerk single - I'd been waiting for that about a week. At least, in one sense. In another sense, I'd been waiting about 13 years, but that's another column...

I decided a few hours later to call them myself. I've noticed this about mechanics - they'll fix your car and then forget to call you. Sometimes, it's so bad, they'll actually *go home* and let your car sit, in perfect drivable condition, in their lot overnight. When you call them the next morning, it's like "oh yeah, we finished that last night," as if to say "how stupid ARE you? YOU should have called US!" So naturally, when I called them around 4, it was done.

They said it was the points and the condensor, which they replaced. Cost of parts, $12 - cost of labour, $35 (half hour). Walked the three miles BACK to the shop, where the car did indeed start, drove to work to do some stuff that absolutely could not wait, then drove home and passed out.

Wednesday I was a bit late to work, but I put in a full day (after stopping at the post office, of course - on this day, I got a Vanity 6 12" single in the mail! Another fine rare item for my obsessive collective!) - in fact I stayed a bit late to make sure I was caught up. At close to 9PM, I went into the back parking lot to start my car and go home.

It started up - and then promptly cut out and died.


After swearing like nobody's business, I managed to get a ride home with Doug.

I forced myself up at 5 the next morning so I could get the first Sunnyvale CalTrain to San Jose, where I took a bus to get within two blocks of work. I had a conference call I had to make, but the rest of my day would probably be spent with this car, once again.

My friend Phil, who is a Beetle "enthusiast" (that's the way you say "nut" when you too are also a nut - and in denial about your nuttiness), offered to check out the spark while I repeatedly turned the motor over, to see if he could figure out what it was. Sparkplugs okay. Points good. Bad condensor? It wasn't the coil. Finally, after I'd given up and called AAA a SECOND time, Phil decided the last thing he could check would be to unplug the wire to the tachometer - THIS was the problem, as the engine fired right up. I cancelled the tow truck and called Bugformance - they said they'd be happy to take another chunk of cash from me and get that looked at.

So, I drove to Bugformance, dropped off Colleen (what, YOU don't name YOUR car?) and again walked the three miles back to my apartment. At the post office, a very rare Kraftwerk compilation called "Highrail" was in my box - well, actually, a little slip of paper telling me something was too big for the box was in my box, but I exchanged it for the LP.

In a surprise, THEY called ME back in the 2pm hour and told me it was done - the tachometer wire was indeed shorting out everything and preventing spark from getting into the distributor, so they ran a new wire ($3) and it only took a half hour ($35). So I put on three MORE miles on my K Swiss, went back to the mechanic's, picked up my car and went back to work.

On my way there, I stopped at Taco Bell - both for me (STARVING, I was) and for Phil, who said all I needed to pay him back with for his help was a #9 meal (nachos and soft tacos) and a bean burrito. I DID manage to spill the drinks, but my seats are Scotch-guarded, so that's no big thing.

An added bonus seems to be that with the short removed from the electrical system, all four speakers in my kick-ass stereo system suddenly started working flawlessly for the first time in months - so apparently I got a bonus out of this whole ordeal.

That night, I worked on the SmackDown! report, then kinda passed out for ten or eleven hours. When I awoke on Friday, it was close to 10. I filled in the gaps on the report and had it sent to WrestleLine and up on my site by ...what, noon?

So that's pretty much how I've spent this week, and why things have been so late, and why there weren't any letters AGAIN on my site, and perhaps most importantly (to Greg and Jeremy) why I HAVEN'T been writing this column in order to get it submitted on time.

Now, if you've managed to read this far - and I hope you have, because it would be a really interesting theoretical discussion about what these words could mean if you HAVEN'T been reading - you're probably wondering if I'm going to get to the (dammit) wrestling or not.

Well, I wasn't exactly, but this is my FIRST column for - what does MZ stand for, "More Zimmerman?" - so let's pretend that what happened up there DIDN'T really happen (I assure you it did, but we're pretending now), and really it's all a big allegory. Yeah.

That would make me Bill Busch, my '63 Beetle Colleen can be WCW, the clutch can be ratings, the tow truck guy can be...uh...let's make him Mark Madden, I don't know. He's not THAT important to the story, but he kinda looked like him. Let's also make the Caltrain and VTA bus Eric Kulas, because I can NEVER think of the words "Mass Transit" without thinking of his blade job for some reason. Let's make the mechanic Brad Siegel, even though the comparisons get pretty stretched with that. Obviously, Busch hasn't handed WCW over to his boss, then walked three miles and back while he's fixed it - and yet, it may eventually work up to that... hey wait, let's make the mechanic Kevin Nash! Busch seems quite happy to leave the car in HIS lot.

Okay, the new points and condensor are OBVIOUSLY Vince Russo; let's make the old tachometer wire Kevin Sullivan. All I (Busch) would need now are a Phil - and a new wire. Get those two things, and the car (WCW) will be running smoothly again, and you'll get the added bonus of the stereo (wrestlers) working flawlessly again!

Now Busch MIGHT get lucky - he MIGHT figure out on his own that that wire is shorting out the system on his own - but he really needs to find a friend to lend an outside perspective. Somebody who can get his hands dirty and really root out the cause of the problems.

Some of you might tell me that Benoit was trying to be Phil last Monday, but Busch wasn't interested in listening. You may be right.

Oh, yeah - who do I have in mind for that new wire? Who can not only get WCW back on track, fire up the ratings, but also give the added bonus of fixing a long-standing problem that's seemingly unrelated - in this case, the lack of decent wrestling matches?

Well, shit. I don't have ALL the answers. I'm just trying to keep my car running AND get a column in on time!




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