Friday, April 14, 2017


April A-to-Z:  A Celebration of the Automobile! (If You’re the Devil)

I left a prosperous I.T. career in order to embrace a simple, reflective, creative, charitable life. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I work on a plethora of creative projects now; musical, literary and recreational. I do a lot of research and exploration, do some volunteer work and squeak by on a part-time low-income wage. I’ve never been happier.

Every four or so years I buy an old car for next to nothing and together we grow older.

And every other year the Ontario Drive Clean Program kicks the crap out of us.

Every twenty four months I must take my old car – not to the one garage where I trust the mechanic; a friend of a friend of my family – but to the licensed rapist of my choice; a government approved garage licensed for the Drive-Clean program. “Clean” meaning they take you to the cleaners.

Invariably my old car computer kicks out a trouble code or three; whether legitimately or because these strangers, alone with my car, out of my sight, have tinkered with something, I cannot possibly know for sure. What I do know is that I don’t trust these people who invariably deal with me with sharp no-nonsense voices and averted eyes.

Then the magical Drive Clean math kicks in and I end up spending precisely the $500.00 cap plus a little more in order to get a conditional pass (which allows me to renew my vehicle license), some $60 part I’ve never heard of and a baffling receipt detailing another $470.00 in taxes, fees, re-testing fees, labour for installing the mystery part, a perfectly-priced Eco-Check-up-and-Maintenance package(which means who-the-fudge knows what) and then some additional mystery labour for good measure.

I then get the car back with the same old throaty muffler I could have replaced had I not just been financially assaulted, and a mysterious new noise; a symptom of something new gone suddenly wrong with the car while it was behind enemy lines and which will necessitate another garage visit ASAP.

Let me be clear: I’m all for the environment. But every other year when this crap goes down, I could be doing a lot more for the environment with that $500.00 instead of spending it all on fees and taxes and imaginary services.

I get screwed. The environment gets screwed and the government and corporate-owned garages make a bundle of money for accomplishing nothing. In the name of the environment the poorest of us get hit the hardest while rich corporations continue to get away with murder, for instance: documenting their imagined worst-case-for-the-environment process scenarios and implementing their best-for-profit scenarios and claiming environmental reward money as if they’d done us a favour when they haven’t. The injustice always strikes me as deplorable and scandalous.

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