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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on January 30th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 47 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 47

That was then, this is now

If Krider isn't careful, he may end up living in his car

BY ROB KRIDER

Most people refer to historical dates as either BC or AD, but at my house we refer to things as either BN, Before Nissan, or AN, After Nissan. This is all based on the date when I came home with an $800 project in the shape of a 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R. The SE-R stands for Special Edition Race, and the project was to race it. That occurred six years ago. Now, if something is broken at our house, like a gate or a relationship, somebody might ask, “When did this get broken?” The most common response is, “Oh, I dunno, sometime after the Nissan showed up.”

Before Nissan, life was simple and good. My wife and I were the stereotypical American family. We had two kids, a boy and a girl. We had a Ford in the driveway that only leaked a little bit of oil. Like other Americans, we enjoyed stealing music off the Internet, watched “Must See TV,” and consumed too much corn syrup. We spent any extra money we had fixing up our cute little three-bedroom, two-bath house, and any other leftover cash we gave to the church of Walt Disney for movies, toys, and vacations. Most of our weekends were spent with my wife burning cookies while I strutted around the house, wearing a tool belt, fixing whatever needed some TLC. Then all of that changed forever with the arrival of a two-door Japanese sports sedan.

When my little racecar “hobby” began, I had no idea of the amount of dedication and resources required to be successful in racing. The old saying goes, “If you want to make a $1,000 racing cars, start with $10,000.” Motorsports requires enormous amounts of money and time. That time and money had to come from somewhere. That somewhere was our house.

BN, my wife was married to a guy who was a handyman. AN, my wife was married to a guy who considered himself a racecar driver, which meant nothing got repaired around the house. When the sink was leaking, too bad—the Nissan had a leak, too, and I was too busy underneath the Nissan to climb underneath the sink. Over time, the car got better, but the house got worse. Eventually the house began to show signs of desperate need. For instance, the front door began to stick. The door would let people into the house; it just wouldn’t let people leave. Our house was like a roach motel: “You can check in, but you can’t check out.”

Paint was falling off of the rain gutters, and light bulbs didn’t get replaced. Plants were dying in the backyard, and fences were falling down. Blinds for the front windows of the house had broken and were replaced with bed sheets placed over the windows with push pins in the walls to give us some privacy. It wasn’t just repairs that were ignored; it was day-to-day maintenance that wasn’t done either. A bathroom light fixture that had three bulbs was reduced to a light with only one working bulb. Clocks didn’t get changed for daylight savings time; the family just waited six months, and then the clocks would magically have the correct time again. If a clock battery died, that clock wasn’t used anymore. It sat there motionless as a monument of the time when the clock stopped at 3:35 some date AN.

And it wasn’t just the house that was left to its own demise; the daily driven automobiles, the ones that got us to work and helped transport our precious children to school, they were totally disregarded, too. The oil was changed on the Nissan every 60 racing miles; the oil was changed on my wife’s car every 60,000 miles—if it was lucky. On her car, an exterior handle broke on one of the rear passenger doors. Both of the kids had to enter the car from the same door, the one on the more dangerous “street” side. Our son named the car “Three In-Four Out.” You could get in only three ways, but you could get out four different ways. I was in the garage with tools in my hands, doing complicated motor swaps on the Nissan, but I didn’t fix a simple car door handle to help the kids get to school. This was life AN.

As everything except the Nissan was ignored, luckily—and only because we didn’t have any pets—there was no animal cruelty involved. If we had a dog, it would have run away to live with a homeless person. At least a homeless person takes the dog on a walk (albeit a never-ending walk).

After five hard years of life AN, the house was a total wreck. The Nissan, on the other hand, was running like a champ and winning races all over the West Coast. Those wins resulted in lots of trophies that needed a place to be stored. Ironically, it was the state of my trophy room that finally drew my attention to the fact that the house was looking a bit rough. I couldn’t have my racing trophies being displayed in a decrepit house. I decided then and there the house needed to be fixed up. For the trophies.

My first task was to repair the sticking front door. It embarrassed my wife when company couldn’t get out of the house. For years, I had convinced her that the door problem was a complicated expensive endeavor that couldn’t be taken on until after the race season was over (I never specified which season). The day I finally decided to fix the door, it took me five minutes and cost us $7 to repair. Foolishly, I announced to my wife (after just a mere five minutes), “I fixed the door, Baby!” I thought she would be happy I finally got back to being a handyman again. When she saw that it took me no time at all to resolve the sticking door she had been struggling to open for three years, the look on her face said she may kill me.

Whoops, I guess I should have gotten to that a bit earlier.

Rob lived, and is hoping someday they will have life AF, After Ferrari. Chances are he will be looking at life AM—After Marriage—instead.