Cacophony Comes to Bernal Heights

Trump is right. Bleach most definitely “does a tremendous number on the lungs.”

There I was, on my Segway waiting for the light at Mission and Virginia to turn when my reverie was rent by the sound of a full-throated Harley coming up behind me. How obnoxious, I thought, even though I couldn’t see him in my rear-view mirror.

He came closer and closer and louder and louder until finally he was beside me and I could see that the noise was not coming from a motorcycle but rather a fellow Prius, modified so that the driver had the option of sounding like a Harley or returning to stealth mode so he could sneak up on people. Horrible but still funny, and I laughed about it while thinking that getting a similar modification for my Prius would be the last step before getting the full “coal-roller” option.

I got great pleasure out of that encounter and worked it into conversations for weeks until finally everything got quiet while we all hunkered down at home in stunned oblivion unaware even of what day it was.

But then, joy of joys, something different. We normally have street sweeping every two weeks; but Muni announced that, owing to the shutdown, tickets would not be given. Well thank goodness for that, because Friday before last I was already so dulled by the shutdown that I neglected to go out and move my car. I realized with a start what day it was about thirty minutes past street sweeping time, ran out against the contingency that the sweeper might be late, and saw the entire block completely full of cars. Nobody had moved, the center of the street was swept, and nobody was ticketed.

A comfort on one level, but then a source of anxiety nearly two weeks later when I realized that the next time I use my car, there will be no place to park it upon my return. Oh well, let’s not start worrying too much in advance. No no, better to fret about more immediate perils, like that tomorrow is street sweeping again; and this time I want to move my car so that the little piece of the street under it can get cleaned.

No worry about getting my place back because my favorite is immediately to the right of the driveway down into our lot, and I can just back up into the edge of the driveway, wait until the street sweeper has passed, and then grab “my” spot before anyone else can get it. Then it struck me that the car hadn’t been used in a month and might not start. (This has happened before.)

So I just stopped the Segway beside it and jumped in it to test. Looked like everything was OK since the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree, but just to make sure I pressed Start. Of course since it’s a Prius, it had to sit there for a bit after I’d touched the accelerator before it grudgingly turned the engine on.

Bam! Bam! Bam! Oh wow, there was this incredible racket and belch of smoke. What was going on? I raced the engine a bit in hopes that this was all a passing aberration, but when I let go of the accelerator I got this VAROOM, ba ba ba ba ba ba sound like a Harley.

And then it hit me.

Yep, an evil-doer had ripped off my catalytic converter and, worse yet, had failed to install a piece of pipe the correct length so that my exhaust would be sent straight to the muffler. That would have been the least he could have done, and I’d have been none the wiser, but these are difficult times and the quality of thieves has deteriorated.

And that was doubtless what was going on with that loud Prius I saw the other day rather than an installed option.

So anyhow, I filed a police report, set up an inspection with my insurance company, and booked an appointment with Luscious Garage for later that morning.

And since they were already under there anyhow, I went ahead and opted for the theft-deterrent attachment, which gives me sort of an advance Schadenfreude feeling as I picture the next would-be thief getting under there, seeing that prying the converter out is going to be too much trouble to be worth it, and skulking away. Either that or to vent his frustration, smashing all the windows in reprisal. Surely not, but at least I’ll still have my converter.

A neighbor asked how the theft deterrent worked, and I said, “Poison gas.” Blew it, though, because I couldn’t help snickering. It’s a clever cage called a “Cat Clamp”.

I went online trying to figure out how much a stolen catalytic converter is worth and ran into a lot of variables. In round figures the platinum and other precious metals are worth about a hundred dollars, but of course the purchaser needs his cut. So the bottom line is that stealing converters would not be an easy way to make a living. Well, unless you were just trying to supplement your income from Pacific Heights burglaries.

Meanwhile, since they seem to be going over well, here’s another San Francisco doorway.


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