Listen here, punk

As anyone who is well acquainted with me will tell you, music is important to me (and that my iPod ranks just below my daughter and just above my husband on my unofficial list of "things I dig"). I listen to lots of different types of music (except jazz because, really, why?) and when I'm not listening to music I'm often listening to a podcast about music. Therefore, it has been a source of some distress to me that I could only listen to my iPod in my coolmobile via one of those tape deck adapters. The sound was mediocre at best, but I lived with it for 2 1/2 years. It became apparently me in recent weeks, though, that I'd worn out the tape deck. I'm in my car a lot. Between driving to work, daycare, kindergarten, pet expos, and driving dogs around the state for the rescue, I'm on the road quite a bit. And my tolerance for top 40 radio is pretty low.

P and I did have a talk about how to use our tax refund. He needs a crown in his mouth, so part of our refund is earmarked for the co-pay on that (around $450). Also, he needs brakes in his car (safety schmafety, I say) so a chunk will go to that as well. Beyond those two necessities, there are roughly a bajillion things we need, such as new carpeting, a new dishwasher, new interior doors, etc. Not to mention some pretty hefty credit card debt we should be paying down. We seldom seem to have enough cash to tackle the really big projects, so we end up working on the little ones instead. What I am basically telling you is that when P and I had our "what do to with our tax refund" talk, I somehow managed to justify a new car stereo by employing some circular logic and taking advantage of some loopholes in the marital contract.

The next day, I headed to Best Buy to select a radio. Normally I find Best Buy employees to be fairly attentive, but I had a heck of a time finding someone to help me. I even let A push every button she could find in the car audio department, thinking that alone might be enough to summon someone. Finally, I flagged down a guy in a blue shirt. "Oh, I thought you were with that other guy!" he exclaimed. The "other guy" looked like a cross between a meth addict and Grizzly Adams, so I'm not sure what that says about my personal appearance that he thought we were a twosome.

In any case, I told the Best Buy employee that I wanted a decent receiver that was also compatible with my iPod. I stressed to him that my main goal in life was to be able to listen to my iPod in my car. He sold me a Pioneer receiver that had the label "made for iPod" on the box (and came with a cable that makes this happen). "Perfect!" I thought. He took me into the installation area, where a different Best Buy guy started pulling out various wires and brackets that would be needed in order to install the unit in my van. The radio itself was $120. The cost of the installation and accompanying crap? Roughly the same. I made an appointment to come back on Sunday for the installation.

Things started out badly when the installation guy called on Sunday morning and told me that the car before mine was taking longer than expected (apparently it takes an act of Congress to install a new stereo in an aged Chevy Caprice). He asked me to come in at 2 instead of 1. No biggie. My plan was to drop the car off and then walk across the street to the mall. I brought the kid along. I dropped the car off and left the key. The lad in the stocking cap told me that my installation would take 45 minutes, so I took that to mean I could pick up the car anytime after 2:45.

The kid and I went to the mall and did some shopping - I picked up some spring/summer stuff for her. I even let her get her ya-ya's out in the play area that I usually avoid like the plague. We walked back over to Best Buy at 4 p.m. Mr. Stocking Cap looked at me and looked at the clock as though the passing of time was a foreign concept. "Ooooooh. Thirty minutes - tops," he said.

"My appointment was for 1:00," I said. He gave me the story about the Caprice and how it had vexed him so. He did seem like a nice kid so I opted to just sit there and wait. A asked to use my phone and said she needed to talk with her Aunt Craggy urgently. So I dialed the number and let her chit-chat with my sister for a while. (I could tell that her need to talk with her aunt was indeed urgent when I heard my daughter saying things like, "So, Aunt Craggy, do you have any pets? Three dogs? What else?")

My van was finally ready at about 4:20. I asked about the cable for the iPod and was told "it's in the box." So, A and I piled into the van and started to head home. I stopped on the far side of the parking lot to see if I could go ahead and hook up the iPod. The cable made no sense to me. One end was clearly meant to hook into the iPod but the other end? I had no clue. I drove back to the installation area. Mr. Stocking Cap came out to see what I wanted.

"How does this attach?" I asked.

"Oh, that goes in the back end of the radio," he said matter-of-factly.

THE BACK END? As in, the end that's buried in the dashboard of my car?

"It's an additional $25 to install that," he added.

Now, I am not the "let me see your manager" type normally, but I was getting there fast. "Listen," I said, "You seem like a nice guy and all, but my only reason for buying this thing was so that I can listen to my iPod. This isn't right."

I think Mr. Stocking Cap could tell I was thinking of losing it, so he offered to install it for free. It's hard to think of it as "free" in as much as I'd already invested $240 in this little venture. Anyway, ten minutes later I was the vaguely irritated proud owner of a radio with an iPod cable.

If there's a moral to this story, I haven't yet figured out what that might be. Maybe you'd like to choose one:

a. Waste not, want not.
b. A penny saved is a penny earned.
c. Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.
d. Best Buy kinda sucks sometimes.