Update on the condition of Dracourage.
Recently, my beloved 2013 Chevrolet Cruze emitted a foul, oil-burning stench. I initially thought it was residual oil that had spilled when DePaula changed the car’s oil a few weeks ago. But the stench festered, and it became so foul that it actually ruined a romantic date. I nursed the car to the dealership, and received the bad news. Valve seal crack.
Been there before. In fact, every year around this time, I get super-hyper about whether the seals will make it through another winter. Sometimes they do. Other times … ugh.
And when they diagnosed the valve seal leak, they also discovered that there was a leak in my transmission’s torque converter.
Luckily for me, I purchased a vehicle service contract directly on the recommendation of DePaula Chevrolet, so all the scammers out there can go stare at their navels, they didn’t get any money from me, nyah.
Unfortunately for me … the vehicle service warranty was with a company called Smart. And Smart takes … their … sweet … freakin … time … to … approve … repairs. And you can’t work on the car in anticipation of Smart approving the repairs, you have to wait until Smart gives you the okay to repair. Something about timestamps on repair orders and shit.
Anyway, Dracourage spent the weekend at DePaula. By Tuesday, the dealership still hadn’t heard from Smart. Finally, on Wednesday, Smart approved the valve cover repair – but they needed to see photos of the torque converter, and to do that, the transmission had to be completely removed from Dracourage so that DePaula could take a picture of the damaged part and send the photo to Smart.
Part of me is now thinking I should have just socked $5,000 in a cookie jar and stuffed it under my bed, and paid for these repairs in cold chocolate-chip cash. Ugh.
By Thursday morning, Smart finally agreed to the repairs, and to their credit, DePaula worked as hard as they could to put my transmission back together, replace the torque converter, fix the valve seal, and run some sort of ionizer through the car so that Dracourage doesn’t smell like roasted Castrol.
And for those who say, “Chuck, get a new car, you don’t need to drive a high-mileage car,” I say to you, “It’s my car, and I’m not getting rid of a car just so I can go make more car payments for the next several years, only to turn around and do it again.”
But that’s not the story here.
This is the story.
I shall explain.
As part of a courtesy to its customers, DePaula Chevrolet offers a waiting lounge. There’s some comfy chairs, some television programs, and a public access desktop computer. Great. I can kill some time and read some articles on Deadspin or Cracked or one of those other clickbait sites.
It was then that I noticed … one of the tabs on the computer’s browser was linked to a Gmail account.
I clicked on the tab.
Lo and behold … someone’s Gmail account was still loaded on the screen. And it was active. Plenty of messages about that person’s TikTok account and Instagram and other websites.
I looked around the waiting room. No one else was there. So whoever was on this computer before me, never logged out of their account. And they’re gone. But the account is still live and active.
Now, at that moment, there were many things I could have done. And if I was a man of low morals, I would have done several of those things.
That being said … I am not a man of low morals.
I sent an email from that email account to the email account itself. Essentially, a carbon letter back to the initial user.
“Hi. I’m a customer at DePaula Chevrolet, and was using the public computer at the wait station. You might not be aware of this, but your account was live on this screen (including all your links to TikTok and OnlineBookClub.org and the rest.) After I send this email to you, for your safety, I’m logging out of his account so that no one can access it on this computer. However, I would recommend that you take a moment and change your password and login information. Trust me. I’m a nice person. I’m letting you know what happened. Someone who does not have the same ethics as me could do some very nasty things to your account, or pretend to be you and run crazy with your online identity. Have a safe and happy Christmas. And please change your password and login information. I’d recommend a two-step authorization so that you receive a text message on your phone whenever your account is accessed.”
Trust me. There are some nasty people out there who, when they have access to accounts that are left open on a public computer, will take full advantage of that security breach. Next thing you know, you’re signed up for all sorts of shitty products, or you’re now linked to various creepy porn sites, or even worse, your account is just stolen and now Johnny Crime is going to town with your identity. And repairing your online identity is about as easy as knitting a sweater with spaghetti noodles.
Yeah, we don’t need those kinds of assholes in the world.
Oh, and for the blog readers out there who say to me, “Hey, Chuck, pics or I don’t believe it happened,” here’s your proof. Right here. Screen shot from my phone, with the person’s email address redacted.
A few minutes later, the service technician came to the waiting room. Dracourage was back together. And because I had a “total exclusionary coverage” plan with the Smart vehicle program, I sustained no deductible and no out-of-pocket costs for what could have been nearly $1,800 in repairs and labor.
I mean, right now Christmas is still up in the air for me. But at least I have my Chevrolet back.
And although it may not matter in the grand scheme of things, I did something so that a stranger’s Christmas wouldn’t be ruined by an online thief.
I guess it all balances out.
Before they changed the mechanism – this was pre-COVID – I would attempt to log into my Gmail or Facebook at a public library computer and get to someone else’s account. It happened at least a half dozen times.
The computers had timed out, so they thought, reasonably, that the machine being turned off would end the session. Not so. So I would send an email to the Gmail account or an IM to the FB account and tell them where I was and what I found. Then I logged them off. And I always specifically logged off myself a minute or two before I timed out.
As noted, this flaw eventually was fixed when I brought it to the attention of a librarian.
Or “Why cloud-based services aren’t really a good idea”.
BTW there’s a difference between a “valve seal” and a valve -cover- seal. The former you probably wouldn’t have noticed leaking. The latter has been problematic on many engines ever since they started using overhead valves. Come to think of it, some of the in-line flatheads had problems with the side covers leaking too. Repairing is fine, and society has to get away from the “it’s broken: throw it out and get a new one” behaviour.
So that’s twice in that day you did the right thing for everyone.
I love when people are kind to each other! Thanks for making our world a little bit better! Merry Christmas!
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