Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pay Later

We discovered shortly after moving here that the A/C on the faithful Subaru was not producing cold air. The oppressive, humid heat here requires A/C long before the height of summer is reached. I took the Subaru to a mechanic close to work for an oil change, smog check, and A/C checkup.

Turns out the A/C System had no coolant in it, probably the result of a long slow leak. The only way to find the leak of a colorless, odorless substance is to add something distinguishing to it and wait. Our mechanic did so, planning to have me take the car and if the A/C failed again, he would be able to find the leak.

But the leak presented itself immediately after refilling the coolant, at 4:45PM on a Friday. There was not enough time to repair the leak before the end of the day, so the mechanic proposed that I take the car and bring it back when convenient to have the leak repaired. I agreed, and got out my wallet to pay for the work done so far: charging the A/C, oil change, and smog test.

"That's alright," he said. "We'll just take care of it all whenever you bring it back in."

"Uhh," I said.

Confused, I brought the car in on Monday for the remainder of the work. A small O-ring needed replacing, and despite the fact that the A/C system needed draining and recharging again, he didn't charge me for the labor or the part. I could have paid the bill in full on Friday, and was shocked that he was trusting enough I would bring it back and pay for the work.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sighted: Troopers, no Traps

We do most of our driving in the city, but I also noticed this a few years ago when we were living in Cleveland - North of Chattanooga. In Tennessee, we have State Troopers, rather than Highway Patrol. I don't know if there is any difference in jurisdiction between the two, but I have noticed two practical differences.

First, Troopers are everywhere. It is unusual to drive anywhere on the freeways around Nashville without seeing a State Trooper. They don't seem to be patrolling in the sense Californians might consider CHP officers patrolling. When I see State Troopers on the road, they seem to be going about some kind of business, not specifically looking for someone breakin' the law, but ready to intervene if they spot something. The a CHP Officers seem to be assigned to a particular stretch of road which they patrol up and down, looking for "bad guys," unless they get called away on something.

Second, it seems that "camping" and "speed traps" are standard practices of the CHP, but I have never seen them used by State Troopers here. Camping and Speed Traps are both implementations of a basic strategy: an Officer parking his or her vehicle behind something that will obscure it from view, preventing you from seeing it before you have already been hit with the radar gun. So it has been quite a while now since I turned a corner, or passed and hill, and had that sinking feeling in my stomach and heart as I wait to see if the CHP Officer is going to pull out and nab me. Whew!

One reason for these differences might be that, at least in my experience around Nashville, drivers don't speed as blatantly and belligerently as we do in California. And I suppose a self-policing system is best.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

There Will Be Weather

There is a lot that can be said about the weather here in Tennessee - not the least of which being that the weather fluctuates so wildly, something said of if an hour ago has a fair chance of being incorrect now.

For the moment, though I am pondering something that has happened a few times, including today, since moving here. For the last few days, high's have been in the 70's. Not uncommon. However, today we also have intermittent rainstorms with temperatures in the high 70's. Also not uncommon.

Another occurrence that is becoming common is the weather forecast as reported on the radio this morning on my drive to work. The Nation Weather Center is forecasting a 100% chance of rain for the Nashville area.

This is a weather forecast I don't recall ever hearing on the Central Coast of California. Sure, it rains less there than it does here (even during El Nino), but from memory, an 80% chance of rain was incredibly high. If the meteorologist was broadcasting in the middle of a torrential downpour, s/he would still only report a 60% chance of rain.

But not here, no. I gather from the weather forecast today that there is no chance whatsoever of it not raining here today. It will rain. Period. So get your Ark.

Friday, May 2, 2008

You Did Not Just Say That...

To say that the South is not up to speed on "political correctness" and cultural tolerance and respect would be a serious understatement. Not to imply that everyone in California is empathetic and sensitive to cultural issues and identity - clearly that is not the case.

But in the entire 4-year span we spent in California before moving to Nashville I heard fewer offensive ethnic "impressions" or "impersonations" than I hear in a week here. They're bad, and there isn't a minority group that escapes ridicule.

Not everyone here is like this, I've met a good number of people that exhibit genuine concern and compassion for people of all cultural and economic backgrounds, but if one bad apple can spoil the bunch, what happens if you only get one good apple for every bushel?