Monday, March 01, 2004

Car woes.

Ok, I seriously think today was the most stressful/trying day I've had in a long time. First of all, let me preface this by saying that, once again, I'm sick. This is the 3rd time in 3 1/2 months that I've had a cold/bronchitis. Ok, now to the stressful day. Our car has been having a serious malfunction for about the past 2 months. It all started when I noticed that the "drive" light on the front console (where the odometer, speedometer, and all that other junk is) was flickering in & out. It did it in all the other gears, too. Also, the odometer would all of a sudden decide not to show me how many miles I'd driven, instead just show me a panel full of zeros. And to top it all off, the gas gauge would show me an incorrect gas level. All of this at once, not very fun. But it didn't happen all the time & would eventually go back to normal. But Jeff thought it might be a safety hazard, so I eventually made an appointment at our local dealer. "Local" being a relative term, since the nearest Honda dealer is an hour's drive away. ::Have I mentioned how far out in the boonies we are?:: Anyways, so my appointment was for 10:30am this morning. Monday morning, what was I thinking. Not only did I have to make sure that I dropped Jeff off at work on time & then make the not so fun drive out to Bay City, but I also had to make sure that both Emma & I were decently dressed & presentable for it. I didn't know how long I was going to be there & I didn't relish the idea of being stuck in a dealership service waiting area for hours at a time, knowing I forgot to put deoderant on and Emma's hair hadn't been brushed. To make matters worse, it was raining. Normally this is a good thing, since combined with the warmer temperatures lately, it melted a lot of the snow that had been piled on the ground for months. But, apparently, people in Michigan decide that when the weather's terrible, that's the perfect time to speed & drive erratically. Our drive out there was relatively uneventful, with the one exception of Emma telling me 10 minutes after we'd left that she needed to go pee. She's got a good bladder that can hold a lot for hours after she wakes up, so when it finally sets off the "empty me" warning in her head, you need to listen to it quickly, or we'd be having a yellow river in our backseat.
So, we get there, roughly 30 minutes early, I might add, and we check in. I tell them the problem, give them my keys & prepare to wait until at least noon. Emma's watching a video in the little children's area they have, and I'm reading a magazine. An easy hour goes by & they come to tell me they can't figure out the problem, can't duplicate it & the internal computer has no record of anything like that happening. Uh-huh. Typical. This is the exact same thing that happens whenever the baby's doing cartwheels in my abdomen, and I try to get Jeff's attention, only to have it stop. He's starting to think I'm nuts. And I'm sure that's what the service people thought, too. They had a suggestion, after I'd told them that this mostly happens in the morning, when I go out to warm up the car. They suggested that I leave the car there & they would try in the morning to get the car to do this crazy thing. I was ok with that, but how was I supposed to get home. They said they'd give me a loaner car, for free (with the exception that I pay sales tax, a whopping $1.20) and they'd give me a call in the morning. So, that's what I decided to do. We got what I consider a crappy loaner car. A '98 Honda Accord that smells, part of the driver's side running board has fallen off & is on the back floorboard, the arm rest in between the driver & passenger seats is practically falling off, and it had almost no gas in it. Plus, I realized as I was driving 60 MPH down the highway trying to get home in the now pouring rain, that I think the tires are going bald. Every time I hit a patch of standing water (something you occasionally do when it's raining) I felt like the car was going to slide off the road. Not very comforting. So, we make it back to our street & as I'm about to turn into the driveway, I reach up to click the garage door opener, and realize I forgot it in my car, back at the dealer. Not only that, but I didn't get my house keys off the ring that I gave to the service people. So, I was locked out of the house. I felt like such an idiot. I knew that I was having pregnancy brain, but I think I've outdone myself. So, I drive over to the college, hoping & praying that Jeff has his keys with him. He doesn't. So, I was faced with the prospect of driving the crappy car with the now almost empty gas tank, back to the dealer 45 miles away. But then, my wonderful, intelligent, non-pregnancy brain husband had a brilliant idea. Call the realtor. She has to get into our house to show it when we're not there, she has a key. But first, I had to find a phone. I had left Jeff's office by this time, and I don't have a cell, so I had to find a payphone. Ok, when did the LOCAL charge for a pay phone go up to $1.00? That's ridiculous. Plus, it seemed every payphone I tried to use was malfunctioning. The first one said that I didn't have to dial a "1" before dialing this number. But I didn't dial a "1", you crazy phone. The next one ate my 4 quarters. I was at my wits ends. I finally decide to try my neighbors & see if I could use their phone. The first one I tried wasn't home, the next one I tried wasn't home, the THIRD one I tried wasn't home. Come on, these are retired people, aren't they supposed to be at home?! As I was leaving to go back to the college to use his phone, I saw that one of my neighbors was pulling into her driveway. Ok, perfect, I'll go ask her. She was very nice & let Emma & I come to use the phone. This realtor is one of the most difficult people to get ahold of. I called her cell, no answer, I called her office, she was out. So, I ended up leaving a message on her voicemail at work, telling her to call me at my neighbors house because I needed to be let into my house. My neighbor set Emma up with a movie, a pretzel & some milk and we waited. About 15 minutes late, the realtor calls back & says she'll be right there. So, we were finally able to go home. Only to remember that I needed to take some paperwork to the tax people so we could file our income taxes. Emma was about ready to throw a full blown fit. I felt so bad having to drag her out again. But, it needed to be done. So, after only being home for about an hour, out we went again in our jalopy loaner. While we waited at the tax place for our paperwork to be printed (which we would later have to bring back with Jeff's signatures on it) Emma decided she didn't want to listen, obey or any of those nice things that I so desperately wanted her to do. She had found some toys & incessantly asked me if she could take these two tiny Barbies home. I think the kid has some serious wax buildup in her ears because she apparently didn't hear me say no, or hear the very nice, polite & very precise explanation that I gave her as to why she couldn't take them home. I finally bribed her into submission (in order to preserve some of my sanity). I offered her ice cream if she would give it up with the Barbies. She took it, and happily put the Barbies back. I know I probably broke about 5 parenting rules with that, but I so beyond caring at the point. By this time, it was after 3pm, I'd been on the road or at the dealership or somewhere other than where I wanted to be for 7 hours, and I was at the breaking point. I had needed to call Jeff at work to get his drivers license number at the tax place, and he had said to come pick him up at 4pm. I had 45 minutes to kill & I was in no mood to go back home (a 15 minute drive) only to have to pack Emma back into the car 15 minutes later & drive back to about the same place to pick up Jeff. We went to Wendy's, got some frosty dairy desserts & sat there in the parking lot for 30 minutes. I made a list of stuff I needed to do, Emma got chocolate everywhere and I tried to relax & enjoy the rain that I've been waiting 4 months for. Rain is good, it melts snow. We can almost see our entire front lawn now. And I think the inches of ice have melted off our roof. Yay!
When we finally got home after picking Jeff up, I collapsed. The house was a mess, people were hungry, but I didn't care. They could fend for themselves and there was no way I was cleaning anything tonight. Tonight is all about vegging and watching CSI: Miami. Tomorrow I'll deal with reality. And reality will have to be dealt with because I still need to drive the clunker loaner back to the dealer & get my own piece of junk back, preferably fixed.

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