Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Frankenvagen Disaster - Day 3-ish

When I woke up this morning, I knew what t-shirt I was going to wear today. I know, that's a pretty strange introduction, but what can I say? I have the perfect shirt for it. A long time ago, on Zazzle, I created a t-shirt that reads: "I'm blogging this." with my blog's URL. So I'm putting the folks I'm dealing with today on notice. I AM blogging this.

I also designed a new t-shirt for these trips: "Be Nice or I'll Blog about you". Can't afford to buy it, but it amuses me greatly. I think it would be great with a blog's URL on the back. An aside: originally I used any money we got from Zazzle for our monthly "eat out" meal. Now it all goes to paying the bills.

Anyway, after getting dressed, I started calling around to see if I could find someone to help me push Eric's car up into the van's old spot in the driveway. I want to be able to put the rental car into the garage, but Eric's car is in the way. We're going to have it towed back to his shop on Friday, but for now we just want it set aside. I'm blogging while I wait for a call back from some of the locals that I know who might be home.

At noon I'm going to go get the rental car, then I'm off to my shop to sign over the van and empty it of anything personal. I know there's not much in it, but I do have a couple of things I want to recover, including my CD. I hope they'll pull the CD player for me, but I'm not counting on it. After that, I need to contact my parents and see if they can come and get Lisa's car today, or if we should just wait until tomorrow. The trick with getting Lisa's car is that we'll have to go to where Eric is working to pick it up, then I'll have to wait and drive Eric to his other job or home, depending on when we do the transfer. Ug.

As for the cyberbegging, which I really hated to do, my friends - you've come through for us. We have enough now for the rental and the tow, and possibly for the repairs on Eric's car (hopehopehope). There were several little donations and one big one, and between them all, they've lowered my blood pressure to an acceptable level and made Eric smile for a brief moment. We will either pay it all forward, or if you wish, pay it all back eventually. We expect better days to come again someday.

We're still not sure about replacing the van. We both feel that we ought to have a second vehicle, but the problem is figuring out how to pay for it and what to get. If money was no object I'd get a hybrid or a mini (oooh! a hybrid-mini!), but those are pipe dreams. I've been researching used Kia's at the moment, since they seem to be relatively inexpensive and Eric liked the Kia he drove once when he had an insurance-paid rental. I suppose I really ought to just get out and pound the pavement and test-drive a few cars. But until we know what's wrong with Eric's car, Friday some time, it all feels a bit futile.

When I get home, I'll update this entry. In the meantime, I've got lots I ought to be doing.

Update (1:10 pm): There's a bright red Chevy Aveo sitting in my garage. The van no longer belongs to me. And Eric's car is being obnoxious.

So I tried to get some help to move Eric's Honda out of the driveway, up into the side spot. While I waited for the help to arrive, I annoyed myself by trying to start the engine up. I tried a few times, got out of the car, walked around it. Spotted the guy who was going to help coming up his own driveway. Got back into the car, said aloud, "One more try!" and turned the key once... nothing... twice... nope... third time... the engine roared into life. I sat staring at the dashboard in disbelief. I almost turned it off to try again, then thought, what am I THINKING? I need to pull it up into the spot now! So I did. Then I shut down the engine, and went over to talk with my friend about it. Then I went back to try to start the engine again. NOTHING.

See. Obnoxious.

The gal from Enterprise Rent-a-Car had a little trouble finding our place because my directions were confused. She drove me down to the office, which is almost within walking distance from my house. I filled out forms, inspected the car with her, told her the stories of our car woes. She gave us an extra 10% off because, she said, that's standard for people who have a car in the shop. I turned down the insurance, because I already checked with my insurance, and we're fully covered while driving rental cars. Besides, even with the on-line money help, I wasn't sure we really could afford the extra bit (if I calculated right, it was nearly $20 a day extra! On a rental that is basically $20 a day!).

For my inaugural trip in the rental, I drove to my own shop, Automax, to sign over the van. The drive was a bit of a learning experience, while I tried the lights and wipers and got used to the brakes. I'm so used to the van's clumsy handling that I nearly threw myself out of the car the first time I stepped lightly on the brakes!

To complicate matters, Automax is right in the middle of Kenmore's major construction, and I had some difficulty getting there. Luckily, the construction crews were happy to guide me into the only spot I could park in.

At Automax, I asked if they could pull the CD player, which they attempted and failed at. They promised to get it out somehow, then call me back. But I took the frontpiece of the player, and signed the van over. Hopefully they can get the player out and hand it over. Who knows? I won't be out too much if they can't, as the player was a free replacement for a player I bought many many years ago. I just hoped I could get it, since it's perfectly good and might fit into my next vehicle.

Eric's car coming to life again makes me almost certain that its problems are related to the electrical problems from a couple of weeks ago. In fact, my suspicion is that they didn't actually find the root cause of the problems, just fixed the obvious issue. As they are usually a most excellent shop, this is quite a surprise. We'll just have to see how it plays out. But at least we have one reliable car now, and Lisa plans to come out tomorrow and retrieve her car from us. Life isn't quite good yet, but it's definitely looking up.