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The shimmy is only felt by those with The Rediculosis

My car has another small vibration in it.

I myself have a related mental condition that has not yet been named by medical science, but which I call The Rediculosis. Persons suffering from The Rediculosis are recognizable only when they are exposed to their weakness, which, in my case, is automobiles with subtle vibrations. Other people don't seem to feel them, but they are there.

These vibrations may be barely noticeable at first, but after about 50 miles, they begin to feel to me like a California earthquake. My teeth vibrate in harmony and hurt. My eyes rattle. It makes me CRAZY!

The service manager may or may not have spotted me as a sufferer of The Rediculosis when I first drove my car into the garage. He perhaps doesn't even have a name for The Rediculosis, but he'll know it when he sees it.

"What seems to be the problem?" he asked me, in that kind of brusque demeaning fashion that all service managers learn in service manager school. Their personalities are further honed by strictly communicating in a nonverbal manner to you how inconvenient your presence is. Their attitude is, after all, formed from long dark service bays laden with greasy appliances, from soiled clothing which can never be gotten clean, and from customers who niggle with them over minor untimely automobile breakdowns while under warranty. They make false statements, do these customers, such as: "I told you last time I brought this in that there was smoke coming from under the hood," or "You said it was all right for such an oil leak to be acceptable."

What the service manager really wanted to say to me was, "Tell me your petty problems as quickly as possible, so I can get on with life."

He, this service manager, exhibited a certain uneasiness, and really couldn't do much better this morning because somewhere in the back of his mind was the harsh intrusion of his wife's 20th charge card, which envelope she opened that morning with such a flourish that he knew it would be maxed by noon. She had girlishly giggled, "They wouldn't keep sending them to me if they didn't want me to use them."

So he fled to work.

I told him that the car had a shimmy that evidenced itself between 60 and 61.5 miles per hour, somewhere in the 100 hertz frequency range.

He looked at me, and knew right then that I was going to be a problem. His duty was clear. Aggravate me in the hopes that I would pop an aneurysm and leave prone in an ambulance, which he'd gladly call.

He said, "Just how exactly did you come up with this information?" As of yet, he hadn't looked up from his clipboard, upon which he doodled credit cards cut in half by scissors.

I know, I told him, because I play the piano.

"You see," I continued, "in the world of contrapuntal harmony, instruments must be tuned atonally to a certain heterodyne effect, and ..."

He ran his hands through what wasn't left of his hair, leaving a greasy streak down the middle of his hairless head, and said: "We're not a piano tuning shop here. We have three pretty simple rules: Take the old parts out; put the new parts in, and charge guys like you triple."

What about my shimmy?

"The mechanic will take a look at it," he said. His hand, which had fondled his bald spot, seemed suddenly to not know what to do with itself. It went here and there, and trembled.

I feel it in the seat of my pants, I told him. His hand waved faster. He could have been an aircraft landing director.

He looked at me somewhat distastefully.

When I'm driving, I said.

His hand wanted to go to his bald head; he fought it.

Just then a little old lady came up, poked him in the arm, and said, in a voice two octaves above middle C, "I've got a bone to pick with you, Mr. Sonny BigWrench. My car has such a vibration! Look what it has done to me!" She shook with Parkinson's so bad that when she poked him, he shook too. I estimated her palsy at about 20 hertz. A good waltz time.

The service manager turned and walked into the bathroom directly behind him. I heard him crashing and banging stuff in there.

The nice old lady went up to the men's room door and began to sing a quavery first verse of "The Old Wooden Cross."

"Hear that? Mr. Special Tune-Up Two-Spark-Plugs-for-the-Price-of- One? You've ruined my singing voice, too!"

I wanted to tell him that undue tension can exacerbate premature balding. Not only that, but The Rediculosis is contagious. But he probably wouldn't listen. All that training, you know.

I turned to the old lady. She smiled at me.

It takes one to know one.