So this past Thursday, I took Spawn and we drove many many hours to go see Amanda Palmer in concert. Spawn likes her and Spawn’s birthday is just around the corner. Spawn hates parties as much as I do, so I tend to enhance the loot with experiences. The tickets were pretty damn reasonable and it was the closest she would be coming to our little craphole city. It was a really great concert,
Spawn liked how comfortable and interactive she was with the audience. Considering she came out barefoot, in a nightgown and loose kimono and joked often about being pregnant, you couldn’t help but get pulled along with her comfort level. Overall, I was relieved considering anything that means lots of people will be converging on one area gives me night-sweats. We didn’t have a terrible time finding a space, it was just a bit crappy, the seats were comfortable and the people were polite. I was pretty happy with how things turned out. In true hermit style though, when I asked Spawn if they wanted to linger to get an autograph and maybe chat with her, Spawn’s response was “God, no, I wanted to leave ten minutes ago.” Spawn has a limit on their ability to handle crowds that rivals my own.
On the way home, we broke down. It was almost midnight. The moon was full.
It was so much in the middle of nowhere, there wasn’t even distant city lights to be seen, no street lights, nothing. There was no mile markers where we could see them, and I wasn’t entirely sure how long I’d been driving.
There is nothing that embraces my worst nightmare like the prospect that I will not be able to get home when I want to get home.
Over the past few months, I have been having a really crappy time with my car. Actually, I’ve been having a really crappy time getting service personnel to 1. check the shit I tell them to check, 2. fix JUST the broken shit correctly. Yes, I’m a layman. But I do understand there are four brake pads in front because I’ve changed them before… when cars weren’t run mostly by computer.
I take a completely hands off approach now since computers in cars cannot be finagled the same way I do with my home computer. So when I ask them to check the fucking pads, only checking the two on the outside is not doing what I asked them to do. Yes, again, I know I’m a layman, but I’m also the one who drives my car EVERY DAY. If I tell you I can feel the brakes getting spongy and the pads are probably the culprit, check ALL FOUR pads.
After four visits and a very long irate letter to the service manager stating that I wanting to have their lackluster service documented since it would likely kill me and this would allow Spawn to know who to sue, guess what? It was the fucking pads. Of course, by the time they checked the other two the disks the pads pressured against had to be turned (more expense) because the bad pads were causing damage. The service manager and I went back and forth a few times about how deep that discount better get before I was happy.
Even after they finally “fixed” it, the brake is still grinding even now a little, the front end also feels like they failed to put the shocks back. But there is one thing about having repeatedly bad experiences with your usual mechanic (yes, they have serviced my car almost seven years, this is the first I’ve had this many problems), the last thing you want to do is take it back and that’s exactly what you have to do to make it right.
Over the past four visits, I’ve also asked they trace the reason the LED’s on my gas gauge were going crazy. For whatever reason, the ones that are supposed to be on when the tank’s full, are the ones that are off. I fill my tank and my gauge is completely black, then slowly lights up as I use gas. Somewhere around the less than halfway mark, the LED’s flip and it will then light up normally. I’ve been rather hostile when they just seem to fail to even respond to that one. “Let me guess, you’re going to tell me its a new feature after so many years of driving this car, I’ve unlocked an achievement or something” or “What you’re not allowed to say ‘we don’t have a fucking clue and didn’t bother to check”, so just ignoring I ever asked is the professional way of handling it?”
At this point, I’m pretty sure they would like to see me go as much as I would like to never have to interact with them again. But there is nothing that makes me want to behave like a rapid bulldog taking a big bite like not doing what I asked, saying you did, and my shit fucking up.
While driving back home, the battery light came on, then the airbag deployment, then an ABS light came on, then a light that actually said “battery.” Most of these I’d never seen lit up before. Then the internal lights in my car wanted to have a rave apparently, then just died… and my car with it.
I love my insurance, it covers tows. But I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere, with one phone that has about 1/4 charge, no charger, no way to charge it if I did. Spawn is now getting progressively upset and I have a steadily growing list of people I’d happily go American Psycho all over.
After attempting to triangulate our position by relaying what my Yelp app says is nearby, the lady from the insurance calls me back, tells me she found someone to come get us and a place nearby to get it worked on, but they won’t be open til morning. I’m trying to calm myself with the knowledge that sleeping in my car til then won’t be a bit deal. We done it before. It’s my car, and my extension, also my little cave away.
The tow guy finally gets to us after about an hour. Did I mention we really didn’t have any way of telling where we were? He asks if he can look at it, tells me it seems to be the alternator but he can run a full diagnostic to be sure in the morning and even replacing it shouldn’t cost me too much.
I’m boiling. Over the last month, I have laid out an incredible amount of money to fix other stuff in my car, but the alternator was only a year old. Or at least it was supposed to have only been a year old. More names are silently adding to my shit list.
He drops us off at a nearby truck stop, all within walking distance of a Waffle House and motel and takes our precious car away. Spawn and I love our car. It’s simple, it fits in small spaces and when its been serviced correctly, does not give us problems.
We’re hungry, so we chill out at the Waffle House and a very nice waitress allows us to charge my phone in a nearby socket (overpriced charging cord obtained from the truck stop). I realize even if its only 6 hours til morning, some sleep would be nice so we check at the nearby motels. One with only a half empty parking lot said he didn’t have any vacancy. Apparently, I just don’t have the right look. The next tells me they only have one room but because of some stupid golfing event will be $140.00 a night and up.
Can’t afford that and still fix my car, not considering I’ve been tapped out on everything else because of this damn car. Hell, I don’t even have a big present yet for Spawn’s birthday. I’m watching as the prospect of that gets slim too.
So we go back to the truck stop, and we sit in their “game room” until about 10 the next morning. I’m exhausted, delirious, its getting the stupid muggy warm that is only present in the south which means the flies were out in droves. I see shitloads of khaki and pastel-swathed yuppies looking all well-rested and fucking perky and that pisses me off even further. I hope they all choke on fucking golf balls.
At one point, two people who worked at the truck stop came up to us and asked us a ton of questions about why we were there, where we were from and did we have receipts for the gummies. WTF? Over the course of the night, Spawn and I would get a drink and/or a snack to while away the time and hey, I felt bad just sitting there and not making a purchase at least. The biggest being in the morning when Spawn brought me the drink and gummy fruit snacks they wanted, which I took and then added with my own drink and a couple biscuits that I figured would take care of breakfast. The biscuits ended up being two of the most disgusting entities I’ve ever laid nostril or eye on, so those both went into the garbage untouched. Now we were being accused of stealing gummy snacks…. I handed over the receipts for everything I’d purchased from them and silently opened every online site I could think of on my phone to express my appreciation for their service and quality of merchandise. Copy and paste is a beautiful thing.
It’s not like I have a massive mohawk or any clothing that suggested mass murder or anarchy, so I’m still rather confused about how threatening I could possible look with a kid in tow. The only thing I can think is that under that level of stress and exhaustion and no car, I may have looked homeless… I guess on a threat level, that’s even worse? WTF is wrong with people…
The towing guy called around 10 and said he’d have someone come get us in the next half hour. No one showed until about 2:30. I started calling every hour, then every half hour, when someone finally got there, I went off, they apologized and said they had just been trying to finish the work on the car. I told them that wasn’t the point… I was beyond the point of caring if the work took any longer, but don’t tell me someone will be there when you have no intention of showing.
But my car worked. It was the alternator. He was right too, he was very reasonable, and one my one some of my tensions were sliding away. He also wrote me up some paperwork that the part he pulled out was an after market piece of shit so I can go have that battle later with the one who guaranteed it.
I finally drove my ass home. Spawn had to wake up and talk to me the last stretch since this is now almost 36 hours of no sleep I’m running on. We get home, feel like death warmed over. I send messages to the friends and family we’d worried and pass out. I also had to back out of a congratulatory dinner for a relative who just got accepted at a really good school. Even they understood I’d gone beyond the limit of exposure this hermit could deal with in one go.
I got up, got something to drink and proceeded to now write about it here. I should be heading over to my mechanic’s right now to finally get the brake resolved, force them to make the alternator issue right and try not to kill them, but I really don’t want to. I don’t want to leave the house. Leaving the house does nothing good. Ever.
I want them to come here and fix it, while I stare at them out of my kitchen window to make sure they do it properly, but they won’t be allowed in, I won’t talk to them again and they will have to consider themselves thankful if I even so much as put a bucket of dish water out for them to drink from.