Archive for September, 2011

Everything’s relative

For anyone who hasn’t sat still and listened to me complain about my car in the last few months, let me give you a brief synopsis. I got caught on the road under a tornado the day before that tornado hit Minneapolis (I love google – that was May 21) and my car sustained $6500 worth of hail damage. The car was in the shop for 2 weeks. The week after I got the car back, it got hit in some parking lot and got a ding in the driver’s side door. I didn’t mind that much except that the door latching mechanism seemed to have sustained some damage so that frequently when I attempted to shut the door it would bounce back open, as if something was caught in the door. So I called up and set another appointment with the body shop. The next day, I went out to my car and discovered some punk had robbed it right in my driveway (I’m assuming it had something to do with the fact that I was having trouble closing the stupid door and it worked better if I didn’t use that delay lock feature). I had to replace my driver’s license, which was no big deal (apart from paying for a license two weeks before leaving the state), but replacing my ipod was a bit more painful. Before I had time to get it in to the shop, someone hit the driver’s side mirror and hey! pretty much took it off.

I got my car back from the shop just before I left for Mass. Whew.

I didn’t drive the car here though, I towed it behind the uhaul (wish I’d gotten a picture of that!). I was really worried about something bad happening to the car and so drove extra slow and the drive took extra long (32 hours instead of the predicted 24).

I’ve been here since August 22nd. Work/internship is going well, home is crazy, but that’s another story. Driving has been fine – I live just 3.8 miles from work and so am not even on the road much. Friday, though, just as I was leaving work early (yay!) my car started overheating and dude…pretty much shut down the engine…while I was on the highway. I was suddenly doing 35. The car kept flashing things to me, including, Stop when it is safe to do so. I got off the highway at the next exit and stopped at the stop sign. When it was clear I pressed the gas…but nothing happened. I tried a couple of times, but nothing. I shut the car off then started it up again an luckily it drove a few more feet so I could get off the off ramp!

I called my insurance company for a tow, gave them the name of a mechanic that someone from work recommended. No one ever answered there or called me back, plus I realized that maybe a cooling problem would be covered by my extended warranty so I checked my handy dandy phone for dealerships nearby. I made about 8 calls on the side of the road and sent out half a dozen text – besides alerting folks on facebook and twitter – before the tow truck showed up.

Once at the dealer I heard the speech that the warranty might not cover it, etc. and no loaner. The shop was closing when the guy at the desk said he’d drive me to the rental car place. I got there and agreed to pay the ridiculous sum of $35 a day (starting Monday – they gave me a deal for the weekend).

I got in the car (it’s a newer Camry) and headed home. I remember there was a time in my life that a newish car would have thrilled me – but since I’ve been driving the LaCrosse, nothing even comes close. I love that car!

Anyway, I got home and realized that damn! I forgot that the new bag of rice I just bought was in the car. My car. The one that is at the now closed dealership. All I wanted to do was sit down, but there was no rice for Bodhi so I got back in the rental car and headed back to Trader Joes. I splurged slightly and got some frozen pizza for myself and made my way home.

Ok, that was just the background. Now, on to the actual blog…

As all of this was occurring Friday afternoon/evening, I was struck by my level of distress/frustration throughout the “ordeal.” All of my texts and posts about my situation were situation updates: “I’m on the side of the road,” “Tow truck is here,” “At the dealership” that kind of thing. My first post was even kind of a joke, “Sittin on the side of the road (you know the tune), watching the cars roll away…”

While I was at the rental place the guy said “Oh, because this is a debit card I am going to have to check your credit” (bad news for someone who just filed bankruptcy and has a house going into foreclosure) and THEN said, “oh, we aren’t supposed to rent to people who don’t have a valid state id.”

I put my head down on the counter. He was a nice guy and just took a $300 payment from my card.

That’s when it really hit me – how different my life is these days. There was a time, not so very long ago, that a car on the side of the highway meant some friend would need to come and pick me up, and maybe we’d need to try to drag the thing home with a stout rope. At that point I’d need to find someone who knows a little about cars and beg them to come over and fix my vehicle. There would have been no tow truck, no rental car and certainly no $300 cash available in my bank account to ensure that I got the rental. There would have been no extended warranty which might pick up the repair and maybe some of the rental car fee. Even as I was considering what would happen if the warranty didn’t pick up the bill (delayed payment on my loans/bills), I never considered what would happen if I couldn’t pay it at all. I thought I might have to tighten up some and stop buying stuff in the next month, but not that I might not be able to pick up my car.

In fact, in the beginning, the thing I was most worried about? My cell phone dying. I am not even kidding.

Not too many years ago, this might have been a real tragedy. I mean, I would have been worried about who would fix it, how much would it cost, how would I get to work… The interesting thing is that it still seems like a tragedy to me, even though it really just isn’t any more. I mean, yes, it will cost me money that I didn’t expect to spend, but really, I’m home safe and sound, the car is going to get looked at, it might even be covered by the extended warranty. I have a rental car right here in my parking space and my rent is paid up till the 15th of October.

My life is good – no matter what I’m complaining about today.

Just as I was posting this, someone posted this link on facebook:

http://playspent.org/

Try it, I dare you.

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