Wednesday, 15 February 2012

How To Steal Your Own Car

..or at least look as if you’re stealing it. This is a companion piece to such Aquila ka Hecate classics as How To Skim Your OwnBrakes and How To Set Your Car On Fire. Maybe it should be a series – I dunno, that car gives me so much material, most of it of a comedic nature.

This morning we set out as usual before the sun but didn’t get far. At the first stop at the top of our road, the dear car stalled and wouldn’t be started again. Warren freewheeled her back to the house and pronounced the ignition buggered. On closer inspection – and after taking off the entire steering wheel and putting it back on and, after  finding 2 loose wires for which he didn’t have a place and calling the mobile auto-electrician- the problem was found to be, not the ignition as such, but rather the transponder, whose pin was sheared off in the ignition lock.

The car was now running, and I had had time to acquaint myself better with the nice camera on my Samsung SII and had wandered all over the house and garden taking candid shots of my plant companions, my animal companions and, apparently, my furniture-and-appliance companions. These can all be seen in my latest photo album on Facebook – and if they don’t bore you to death I bet you’ve read War and Peace several times, for fun.

Having dispatched the mobile auto electrician with what was probably the easiest R456 he’d ever earned, we set off to find a new ignition switch. Or rather, a used ignition switch – or any ignition switch, in fact, which would fit a 1997 Daewoo Cielo – a car long out of production and not terribly popular even in its heyday.

First we headed up to the legendary scrapyard. I say legendary because, although everyone always advises you to get those hard-to-find car parts from “a scrapyard”, in reality you can never quite pull this off. In our case it was because the biggest and most famous scrapyard in our area had given in to the pressures of being located right next to the most prolific squatter camp in North-Western Joburg and had relocated completely.

Dithering on the main road through the squatter camp in the unbearable heat, we made up our minds to head for the township of Randburg and try the spare parts dealers there. Forgetting for the moment that Randburg is the one locale in which both of us invariably lose our way, get turned around and thoroughly loose our cool, we made something of a bee line for GoldWagen Parts. Something of a bee line, because, between dodging taxis, pedestrians, hawkers and Metro Cops sleeping in the sun, our path more closely resembled that of an enraged sidewinder. And GoldWagen didn’t have the part, couldn’t say where we could get it and in fact expressed disbelief that we could purchase such an outrageous item at any spares vendor in the city.

Not to be put off, we hopped (slithered, wound) right next door to Williams Hunt – who are in theory the spares providers for the defunct Daewoo motor Corporation. Yes, they had the part. At almost R800 for a 5cm piece of metal. We looked around for an ATM-not habitually carrying around such large sums of money-and the helpful Spares bloke told us there was one in a “little shopping centre” just behind Williams Hunt. Walking distance? You bet. And, as our informant was a man on the far side of 70 if he was a day, we took him at his word. 

By now you’ll have guessed that we walked and walked, up down and around the block, without finding either the little shopping centre or the Standard Bank ATM. Getting back in the car, we drove around the same territory, whereupon we saw it almost immediately, in a square sheltering a fairly new and somewhat arriviste College. The ATM was vandalised, however, which saw us winding back up into Ferndale to a Spar Centre full of midday lunchers, where we finally drew some cash.

All this time, we were travelling around in a car with its transponder unit dangling onto the gearstick by wires, the ignition being effected by means of a long-handled screwdriver jammed into the ignition keyhole. Stopping and starting required Warren to turn the key on the end of the dangling wires and then apply the screwdriver to turn the engine over. Add to this that Warren was dressed in grubby tracksuit pants and a disreputable Pit Bull T-shirt, while I was similarly doing my Chav impression in a raggedy black floaty  skirt, purple T and black Ballerina pumps. If I were a security guard, I’d have given us the evil eye at once – and seeing us start the car with a screwdriver, I’d have drawn my firearm and detained us on the spot. Not one of them did so, however – which more or less sums up the level of involvement of the local security industry.

On the way home we stopped at our local Spar and treated ourselves to a pre-roast chicken and salad for lunch. I do believe it was only the fact that we’re fairly well-known on sight at that local store which stopped us being arrested when we opened the boot by inserting a finger into the broken boot lock, and then proceeded to drive away with a common tool in the ignition lock.