More car drama

Waaaaaaayyy back in May, like a WHOLE month ago now, I sent the application for a duplicate title for the Tucson to the DMV (after we discovered we’re unorganized losers).  I sent it after multiple phone calls to their title office to make sure that I was including everything they needed.  I was assured that, despite the very clear instructions on the form, I do not need to include the lien release (because we never had a loan on the car in this state), and I do not need to get the application notarized (because of the virus and the shutdown).  They told me the turnaround time is 2 to 3 weeks.

Two weeks after I mailed the application, I got my self-addressed envelope returned in the mail.  For a minute, I was impressed at how quickly they sent us the title.  That lasted until I opened the envelope.

No, they returned my application and check with a letter listing what was wrong with it.  What was wrong with it?  It wasn’t notarized.

Something else weird: the letter was dated 5/6/20.  I signed my application on 5/14/20.  That’s probably just an oversight – it’s a form letter.  But still.

I called the DMV again and sat on hold for half an hour waiting for someone in the title office.  Then I spoke to Rosa, dear wonderful SUPER helpful Rosa, who was appalled, APPALLED I SAY, to hear that someone returned my application saying it had to be notarized.  Of COURSE we’re not requiring docs to be notarized right now!  How awful that I have to go through this delay!  Whose initials are on that letter?  When I told her there were no initials on the letter, she was practically sputtering with outrage.  “I will CERTAINLY be speaking with my manager about this!”

I certainly appreciated her outrage, over the top though it felt.  Of course, if we hadn’t already gotten rid of the car, I might have been right there with her.  She apologized all over the place and asked me to send it all back in, including the form letter, to her attention, and she would take care of it.  So maybe MAYBE we’ll actually get the duplicate title so we can actually sign it over to the mechanic so we can actually no longer be responsible if it were to turn out the car wasn’t junked and is evidence in a murder or something.

We did it!

After…three weeks? I think?…we were finally able to buy a new (used) car!  YAY!!!!  Although, STILL, not without some hiccups.  The transfer from Norwood to Warwick was supposed to take three to four days, business days, which with the holiday, meant that yesterday (Wednesday) was day #4.  No word from CarMax.  I emailed the person I was working with there to see if she had any updates for me, but it was towards the end of the workday, so I didn’t expect to hear back until today.  This morning, I called the Warwick location to see what they could tell me. The guy I spoke to said the car is there, it’ll be cleaned and ready in about half an hour, but there’s some issue with the title. He didn’t know exactly what, but he was going to find out and have someone get back to me.

GREAT.  More title problems.  An hour or two later, I got a text from the person I emailed telling me that everything was ready and we should make an appointment to test drive (and hopefully buy) the car.  I asked her if the title issue was resolved.  She said “it appears to be” and I should wait for the office confirmation to be sure.  Uh huh.  I called again and spoke to someone who said it was all sorted out.  So yay!  Only a couple of hours of frustration this time.

We were in the middle of failing to get Jack to sleep for his nap, so we put some snacks and toys in a couple of tote bags, put him in the car seat, and headed to CarMax.  For the third time.  Jack fell asleep on the way up, naturally (and GOOD), so I dropped John off at the entrance around 1:45 and drove in circles for another 15 minutes before they were ready for us.

The test drives went well, the car was (is) in good shape, and we were ready to buy!  And even then, even without having to jump through any more hoops or dealing with any of the usual dealer bullshit, it was STILL 5:30 before we left.  SO MANY HOURS.  Jack was really great, but he was losing it during the last hour, and we were, too.  He didn’t want to eat, he didn’t want to read truck books, he didn’t want to play with his toy phone or toy tablet.  He  just wanted to run around the place and push rolling chairs down the hallway.  That worked (kind of) when one of us could stay with him while the other answered questions and filled out paperwork, but at the end, we both had to read things and sign things, and he was driving everyone nuts.  Which is when I remembered the magic of YouTube.  Three Sesame Street shorts and two truck videos later, we were the proud owners of a new car.

Car salesmen are the WORST

We did NOT buy a car today.  We could have.  We found the car with all the stuff at a price slightly below the one at CarMax.  We got there, we test-drove the black one, looked it over – all good.  Then we drove the silver one.  Well, John did.  The salesman tried to convince us it just smelled faintly of dog, but it 100% smelled like smoke, so that was a big no.  But the first one was great.  Let’s do it.

And that’s when the sales game started.  FOR NO GOOD REASON.  We were prepared to buy the car for the price they advertised.  John told the salesman that, and then he went off to “run the numbers”.  What numbers?  Here’s the price, you know the fees, the taxes are easy to calculate – what else?  UGH.

“Since you’re not financing with us, it’ll actually be an additional $450.  That’s a rebate that won’t apply to you since you have outside financing.  That’s all on the website – we believe in being up-front about our pricing.”  (It’s not on the website.)

“Oh, that 3-year maintenance package only applies when you’re financing with us.  That’s all on the website – we believe in being up-front about our deals.”  (It’s not on the website.)

“Since this car is Nissan-certified, you get the warranty for only an additional $1295.  No, it’s not optional, but let me talk to my sales manager about it.  Okay, he says we can’t remove the warranty but we can split the cost with you.  You can have it for only $647.50.”

There was more in that vein, so we decided not to buy the car.  The sales manager got really pissy with me, which was completely unnecessary, and we walked, listening to him mutter at us as we left.  I ordered the transfer of the EXACT CAR from another CarMax from my phone five minutes later.  Hopefully this one will work out.


What a difference a week makes

After last week’s not-so-great car dealer experience, I wasn’t really looking forward to doing it again.  On Friday, I made two appointments, one each for two cars (a Jeep Renegade and a Nissan Rogue).  The guy on the phone (central office again) said the location doesn’t appear to be appointment-only.  I said it was last week, and is there any way to know for sure?  He said I could call them, and I think I managed to hide my frustration when I asked how, since the number I called to reach him was the local RI number.  He told me to follow prompts to the business office.  Cool.  I did, I spoke to someone, and YES.  This week IS different from last week.  They’re almost back to normal, with social distancing rules in place.  We can walk the lot, test drive as many cars as we want, and except that it might take a little longer because they have to prep the cars first, it’s almost normal.  Whew.

So Saturday, we got there around 11, and two hours later, we left, having both driven three cars (Jeep Renegade, Nissan Rogue, and a Ford Escape), AND – more importantly – having pretty much decided that we want to buy a Rogue.  Now comes the obnoxious part: we have to find the newest car we can find, with all the features we want, with the lowest mileage, for the lowest price.  Within reason.

As of this writing, it is possible we have found it at a Nissan dealership in Warwick.  They have several that appear  to meet our requirements.  One of the features isn’t listed, but I called and was assured that because they all have the other features, the missing one is standard, and don’t worry about it.  We’ll find out on Monday, because car dealerships don’t appear to be open on Sundays anymore.  Our backup is to have CarMax ship the only one they have in the entire country up here from Maryland.

I had no idea I could be that kind of buyer.

But we are so close I can smell it.

Buying a car always sucks, but now it sucks harder

The solution to our car problem is to junk it and buy a new (used) car.  We’ve decided to use CarMax because they’re less hassle than other dealerships and that’s worth a lot to us.  They’re open during these trying times (UGH – can’t believe I wrote that unironically), but you can’t just walk onto the lot and pick out cars to test drive.  You can still test drive a car, but you have to pick the one you want online and then make an appointment specifically to see that car.  I get it – they’re short-staffed and they are cleaning the cars before appointments – but you can only see one car per appointment, and it is really hard to schedule appointments.  I called early Friday, and I could only get two appointments for Saturday, at 5pm and at 6pm.  One car each.  They tell me that they’re expecting people to pick out the car they want to buy, test drive it, and then buy it (or not).  But how can you be sure which car you want until you test drive it?  And then, when we got there on Saturday, the salesperson seemed truly annoyed that we wanted to see two cars, even though we had separate appointments for each so how is that any different than seeing two different customers?  Is she trying to tell me that I can only test drive one car a day?

We got there, parked in the designated space, and called the number.  She came out, got our licenses, I emailed our proof of insurance, we had this really confusing conversation about how we’re not supposed to test drive more than one car but she’ll let us get away with it, and then we didn’t see her again for 20 minutes.  Why?  I don’t know.  Car buying sucks.

So she finally called me again and told us we could see the first car.  John went first – if he’s not comfortable in whatever car we pick, there is no point in continuing with it.  It was a Chevy Equinox (2017, I think), and it’s BIG.  John was pretty comfortable, and we both liked it pretty well.  Not enough to buy THAT one, but enough to find one with the features we want and that doesn’t make a weird noise when we brake.

The second car was a Subaru Forester (also 2017), which I was pretty excited about, and guys, I liked it.  John did, too, EXCEPT he had to lower the seat all the way down and slouch quite a bit to be able to not hit his head.  Also, the backseat doesn’t have any more room than the Tuscon did (which is not much).  But it drove SO much better than the Equinox.  So I’m a little bummed, but John hasn’t completely given up on it. He’d like to have a little more time to sit in a Forester and figure out if he could fully adjust the seat to where he’d be comfortable.  We were feeling pretty rushed on Saturday.

And if the Equinox isn’t the right car (although it could have been, if we hadn’t followed it with the Forester, so maybe we need to cut it some slack), and if John doesn’t fit in the Forester, then we’re back to square one, and HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO PICK A CAR IF WE CAN’T TEST DRIVE MORE THAN ONE?

Regular dealerships are so IRRITATING.  But I will probably call the Subaru dealer to find out if they have any used Foresters.  I think the Outback is off the list because it’s supposed to smaller in every dimension.


Car Trouble in the Time of Covid

Jack had a very exciting morning yesterday. He got to see a tow truck in action, up close and personal.  I suppose it was exciting for us, too, but tinged with a wide streak of Really? This is happening now?!?

John loaded the car up with some yard waste to take to the transfer station, but he didn’t get far.  The car sputtered to a stop right outside our front-yard neighbor’s house, and he pushed it into the parking area for the apartments right there on the corner.  It had been running rough for the last few days (or the last couple of times I drove it, anyway), but we figured that was a spark plug issue and we were planning that kind of maintenance.

We called our local repair place, got a tow truck dispatched from USAA (using the repair place’s towing service, turns out), and found out this morning that the engine seized up.

I am SO not in the mood for this.  Major engine repair, engine replacement, or new (used) car.  No, thanks!  Not now!  But this is what we will figure out over the next few days.

The tow truck part was pretty cool, though.  It was a flat-bed truck, and we (with Jack) watched the guy winch the car up onto the flat-bed and drive away. I got it on video for Jack’s endless perusal.

Good Samaritan (it wasn’t me)

Today was beautiful and warm and breezy.  We had the windows open and the fans going all day.  It was great, but it also means we hear EVERYTHING that goes on outside.  This evening, before sunset, we heard a horrendous screeching noise right outside the apartment.  We looked out the windows and saw a car stopped in the middle of road, blocking the northbound lane, with the drivers side door open.  There was another woman inspecting the red mini parked on the side of the road just in front of it.  I assumed we’d just heard a crash, that maybe the car had hit the mini or the mini backed into the car.  I stopped looking through the screen (opting for the clear part of the window), and I couldn’t see any damage, and then John noticed the tire leaning up against the mini.

Apparently, this car was driving up our street when the front left tire CAME OFF THE CAR and rolled into the street and hit the mini.  The horrendous screeching noise was the front left corner of the car, minus its tire, scratching up the pavement.  We stood at the windows watching the circus (the people in the car running around, getting the tire, staring at the car, the other drivers trying to go around the car to get out of town, the southbound lane stopping to let the northbound lane swerve into their lane to go), and then we heard someone shout something about needing a jack.

John: Should I help?  I have a jack.  I should help.  Should I help?

He decided to help.  By the time I went outside, there were 7 or 8 people clustered around the car (only three of whom were working).  Everyone else on the block was out on front porches and stoops (me and our housemates included), watching the fun (and occasionally yelling).  With the help of two of the guys who live next door, John jacked up their car and got the tire back on.  Sort of.  Turns out that out of the five bolts that usually hold a tire on, one was missing and one had been completely broken off.  Of the three that were left, only one was straight and able to be used.  The car owners (who didn’t help at all and barely said thank you) decided to risk driving back to DC rather than drive the car slowly to a shop.

We’re going to keep an eye on the news for the idiots who are surely going to lose the tire again going too fast on the highway back to DC tonight.

Narrow escapes

Hm.  When I wrote the title, I’m pretty sure I had at least two narrow escapes in mind.  Right now I can only thing of one (the near-accident from last Friday).  Maybe it’ll come to me.

I took my car to the mechanic yesterday because the serpentine belt was making noise and I wanted to have the alignment checked.  I mentioned my curb attack to the guy while he was checking out the car, told him I hit it pretty hard, but when I looked I didn’t see any obvious damage.  After one look at the front driver’s side tire, he was like, “Oh no,  lady, you did some damage.”  There was a lump the size of a baseball on the sidewall of the tire.  Apparently, that’s like a ticking time bomb.  The tire was still holding air, but I guess that kind of swelling is just waiting to pop at the most inopportune time.  So I got two new tires yesterday (and they fixed my alignment).  We said goodbye to just under $400.  I also got an estimate for $430 dollars to replace the belt, the idler pulley, and the tensioner (the noisy culprits) AND apparently I need to replace my rear brakes for only another $300.  John looked up the belt parts – we can get those for $75.  He’ll do that work.  The brakes we might consider having them do.  That’s much more annoying to do ourselves.

Car stuff is expensive.  But we’ll live.  More importantly, so will the car.

Maybe the other narrow escape was avoiding spending over $1000 on the car in one day?  I’m not sure.

Time to visit the car doctor

Wish my car good luck, please.  It’s been making noises (squeaky belt kind of noises) for a couple of weeks, and then a kind of ticking sound started this morning, in time with the belt noise, and John decided that sounded like imminent failure.  I’m not sure what’s about to fail, but I’m dropping the car off at the place tomorrow morning.  I also want to have the alignment checked, since it feels off and my near-accident last Friday couldn’t have helped things.  (Some guy swerved into my lane out of nowhere (and at high speed).  I swerved violently up the curb and onto the median.  There was a very loud noise when my tire hit the curb, but no obvious damage.  The guy sped off – I’m not sure he even noticed he almost hit me.)  I wonder if insurance will cover damage from avoiding an accident.

A terrible, no good, horrible day (for John)

Sunday, John replaced the side mirror on his car (it was cracked, and he needs to get the car inspected), and then he replaced the door-lock relay in my car.  Remember that?  How I’ve had manual locks for FOREVER because they kept cycling on and off and draining the battery so John unplugged the relay?  Well, he ordered a new one and installed it Sunday, and now our fingers are crossed that it was actually the relay that was bad and not the switch in the door.  We’ll know if my battery dies.  So yesterday morning, in the cold, I half-expected us to have to take John’s car to boxing since surely my battery would be dead.  But no – it started right up.  Hooray!  And then it started up again when we left boxing, and again when I left for work.  Hooray and hooray again!

Then I got to work and heard from John.  His day didn’t go so well.

HIS car wouldn’t start.  I was already gone, so I couldn’t jump it for him.  He tried to pop-start it, but he couldn’t get enough momentum to back out of the driveway and into the street.  (Our driveway has a little bit of an incline towards the street, but not much.)  Then he tried to push it back up the driveway and let it roll back again, but that didn’t work.  After about half an hour, the neighbor we almost NEVER talk to (the one who mows his lawn (when he mows it) in khakis and a button-down shirt) came out to go to work, so John got him to jump it (which I’m sure took a lot of explaining on John’s side).

Side note: I just typed “hump” instead of “jump”, and I had to pause for giggles.  And more giggles, because that really would take a lot of explaining on John’s side.

Okay, I’m back.  So, his day didn’t start off well.  THEN he found out that his window wouldn’t work when he tried to order lunch in the drive-thru.  It just wouldn’t roll down (he assumes he did something when he replaced the mirror on Sunday).  It’s always embarrassing when you have to open your door to place your order.  In the cold.  At lunch time on a weekday when there’s a line of cars behind you.

Poor John.  At least his car has started without assistance every time since then.  Of course, then today arrived, with its two to three inches of snow.  We shoveled the driveway, and I started to head off to work, but I changed my mind when I heard they hadn’t even plowed our parking lot yet (at the office, at ten after eight), and then I fishtailed a bit when I took a turn at the bottom of the street, so I came home just as John was backing out of the driveway.  I gave him my car and stayed home.  It STILL took him 25 minutes to go 3 miles, but at least he was in a car with 4-wheel drive instead of rear-wheel drive.

Cars and winter – these do not a good combination make.

The continuing saga of the mysterious battery drain

My car dies sometimes.  We thought we were holding the problem at bay by pulling the master fuse when we’re not in the car because that would keep the accessories (radio, lights, clock, etc.) from draining the battery while it’s off.  John was supposed to be using the time we were buying by doing that to research the problem so he could fix it for me.  We got about a year out of the last battery, which we replaced right after Christmas (just a few weeks ago).  Fresh new battery means no problems for a while, right?  Yeah…no.  I was able to start the car (and drive it places) three different times Monday night (after leaving it sitting in the driveway for three full days), but Tuesday morning it was dead.  Since I still pull the master fuse out every night, nothing on that panel can be what’s killing the battery (there goes my new radio).  The locks have been acting up all this time, too, so that night when we got home (in the dark, in the rain), John unplugged the relay for the power locks (and possibly some other relay, but I haven’t found anything else that’s been disconnected yet).  So far, I haven’t had any issues (and I was already used to using the key and the manual locks to lock and unlock the car since the power locks have been so unreliable).  Okay, it’s only been a day and a half.  We’re going to try not to use my car all weekend again as a test.  From Friday night to sometime Monday, we’ll leave it sitting in the driveway and use John’s car for any errands.  If it starts after two or three days, then we’ve probably found the problem.  I’m not sure what happens after that.  Is the relay bad?  Or is it something in the wiring?

Man, I’m much happier focusing on this issue than the stuff that’s happening at that place I have to go to every weekday.

I don’t plan to make that a habit

We live in a very safe area.  I knew this already, but it was reinforced for me tonight.  I went out to pick up dinner from Noodles & Company (mac and cheese with meatballs for John, Bangkok curry with shrimp for me), which is located in one of those new mixed-use shopping centers, with lots of apartments upstairs and lots of shops and restaurants downstairs.  I parked right across from the place, went in, got ignored by the staff for a few minutes (for no reason I could tell – the place was completely empty), ordered our food, read my book while waiting, got the food, and left.  I was in there for maybe 15 minutes.  I walked outside and noticed my car immediately.  “Why is that so unusual?” you may ask.  “Surely you know where you parked, and since it was “right across from the place”, why wouldn’t you look right at it?”  “Well,” I might answer, “it was dark and lots of people drive cars like mine, so shut up.”  Most people, however, do NOT leave the driver’s side door open, even if it means the dome light will be on to welcome you in (which is what I saw immediately, by the by).  I’ll admit to being a little hesitant as I got closer to the car.  I mean, obviously I must have left the door open.  I seriously doubt some car thief got into my car and then left it like that.  But what if a crazy murderer had taken the opportunity to hide in my backseat?  Well, again, the light was on, and I could see that there wasn’t anyone in the car.  Couldn’t see into the back, though, so I checked the trunk, too.  THEN I got in and went home.  (Confession: I wasn’t that scared. There were lots of people around to hear me scream if I HAD found someone in the car.)  The real question is this: how on EARTH did I get out of the car and not close the door?  Usually, John gets on me because I slam it instead of closing it gently.  And it wasn’t just ajar or not quite latched – it was OPEN.  I can’t even blame this on the cold medicine.  Today was my first unmedicated day since Friday.  I should maybe just go to bed.  After I eat the rice krispie treat I’m pretty sure I got for free.  Maybe the guy felt bad for ignoring me.

Chivalry isn’t dead, but it drives the wrong car

A guy in a fedora held a door open for me today.  That makes him twice the gentleman any other guy holding a door open would be.  But then he got into a Jeep Wrangler.  That is not the right car for a guy in a fedora.  But what is the right car for a fedora-wearing dude?  (It’s possible he was wearing a trench coat, too, but it’s more likely that my memory is making things up to fill in the blanks.  Apparently, my memory wants him to be Humphrey Bogart (or Rick Blaine, anyway).  But taller.  This guy was taller.)  I really don’t know the answer to that question – wait!  I totally do (because I watch Mad Men).  He should be driving a ’60s era Cadillac or something with fins.  (John says a giant Cadillac or a ’58 Lincoln.)  Definitely not a little bitty Jeep.

Things that have nothing to do with each other

Car trouble.  Not the big kind.  The annoying kind.  I drove my car last Friday.  Then I left it in the driveway over the weekend, and the temperature dropped Monday night.  Tuesday morning, I went out to start the car.  Nothing.  Not even engine sputters or clicking.  Completely dead battery.  John jumped the car, we checked for the culprit and found nothing (no lights were on, no doors were ajar, the radio was off) and I drove to work (about 20 minutes).  That afternoon, around 2:15, I tried to start the car again.  (I needed to get home so I could give Roxy her medicine around 2:30.  More on that later.)  Nothing.  Completely dead battery.  I got the woman who was parked next to me to help me jump the car again.  I crawled all over the damn thing once it was running, looking for any doors not shut all the way or lights on that shouldn’t be – still nothing.  I drove home, taking the long way.  John did a ton of googling.  Turns out this car often has battery drain problems.  Something is draining power even when everything is off.  The problem is that everyone’s solution is different.  And we don’t have one yet.  For now, we have a workaround (it helped that I was going to Baltimore today and didn’t need a car).  Last night, after I got home, John unplugged this power connector thing that’s inside the dash on the far left (facing the driver’s side door).  This morning, he plugged it back in and the car started right up.  He drove it to work today, unplugged it again, and was able to start the car to get home.  So something in the group of…things that the power connector controls is what’s draining the battery.  The next step is to figure out which thing it is so we can fix it.  Or replace it.  Or…something.  Now that I know I can start the car, it’s not an emergency.  It’s just super annoying.  And it turns out that this is why my power locks don’t work half the time.  There’s not enough power left in the car to trip the locks, and I have to actual open the door with the KEY.  How barbaric.

I have no segue for this next thing.  I was going to go with “You know what else is barbaric?”, but it doesn’t make any sense.  So I’m skipping the segue.  Sue me.  Also, I keep trying to spell segue “seque”.  I’m not sure that’s a word in any language.  What do I know?  Maybe it is.  Maybe it’s what a sequin becomes when it grows up.

My point is that I want to talk about Roxy now, but I can’t get there from power locks that don’t work.

I don’t even have a whole lot to say about Roxy, except that she’s doing okay.  She had a seizure this morning, and she’s still having them every week to week and a half, but she’s recovered pretty quickly from her last few.  The biggest headache has been the change in medication.  We added a new one (the third) that we had to give her three times a day, 8 hours apart.  That is HARD.  No matter how we schedule it, we either end up having to give her a pill in the middle of the night or be home in the middle of the afternoon (2-ish – like yesterday), which is difficult when we have to be at work.  And it’s so new (and so different from her regular medication schedule – twice a day, 12 hours apart) that even I’m working from home, I can’t remember to give her the pill on time, so we either end up giving it to her really late and skipping the next one or we skip the one I forgot and give her the late one.  Thankfully, the drug company just started making an extended release version.  We picked it up yesterday and started this morning.  Twice a day, 12 hours apart.  That we can do.

And here’s a video of my adorable puppy.

Roxy doesn’t want to play my games from Susannah Brewer on Vimeo.

This time it was completely my fault

Have I told you the story about getting pulled over by the police right after getting my first car?  Some of you know this already.  Here’s the short version:

I was 16 years old, it was summer, and Mom and Dad had just bought me my first car (a 1988 black hatchback Toyota Corolla named Cricket).  They immediately went on vacation near the Finger Lakes in New York.  Far far away from home in Lexington, KY.  Corey was I-don’t-know-where, but not living at home anymore, so it doesn’t really matter, and Mel and I were staying by ourselves.  One day, I went to pick her up, and on our way home, we got pulled over.  I was freaking out, Mel was trying to get me to breathe, and I noticed the police officer look at the back of my car as he came to the window.  I knew I hadn’t been speeding (I was a paranoid beginner driver), so I thought maybe I had a tail light out or something.  Short version, right.  My sticker (the one that has the year on it) looked to the police officer like it had been torn off somehow.  I didn’t have the registration in the car (too new, I guess), and he gave me a citation and told me to take care of it.  This was before cell phones, so I couldn’t call Mom and Dad, and when they eventually called us (it must have been that night, but in my memory it took them three days), they told me to check the mail for the registration and sticker.  Nothing yet.  The next morning, I was on my way to pick Mel up again, and as I made a left turn out of our neighborhood, I got pulled over again.  As the police officer got out of her car, I saw her check the license plate just like the last guy, so I had the citation from the day before in my hand when she got to my window.  I explained everything, showed her the citation, told her I was taking care of it, and she let me go.  But this was traumatizing.  Pulled over twice in two days, for something that I maintain was not my fault.  John wants to know why I was driving the car without the registration and I can only claim ignorance.  Registration?  Stickers?  My parents gave me the keys.  I didn’t ask any questions.  End of story: the registration came in the mail, I put the sticker on the plate, and took care of the citation downtown.  I’ve never gotten a ticket (that one I thought I’d get from the red light camera in DC never came), and I’ve only been pulled over once (for rolling through a stop sign in my neighborhood), and the deputy sheriff let me off with a warning.

Fast forward to today.  Right after I left work, I mean right after I left – it was after the very first turn I made – I heard the whoop of the siren and saw flashing lights.  I pulled over.  The very nice Deputy Sheriff Diaz came up to my window and told me my registration is expired.  I said something clever like, “Oh?”  He asked me what I thought he was pulling me over for, and I said, “I thought maybe I” stop talking stop talking stop talking “ran that stop sign.”  Damn.  I’m incapable of shutting up.  Thankfully, he said “No, you were fine there.”  And then I remembered that I had to wait for traffic to clear before making that right, so I must have stopped.  Anyway, he asked for my registration, and I went rummaging for it even though at this point I knew damn well I hadn’t renewed it.  John and I had just talked about it a few days ago.  Why didn’t I do it then?  Whatever.  I played dumb a little and discovered last year’s registration.  It expired in May.  Ouch.  He took my license and sat in his car looking up whatever they look up that takes so freaking long.  I was watching him in the rearview mirror and after a while, I saw an unmarked car with lights going pull up behind him.  What the hell?  Did he call in for back-up?  What’s going on?  Since I was staring at the flashing lights behind me, I didn’t see him come back, so when he appeared at my window again, I jumped a mile.  He apologized for startling me, and I gestured to the unmarked car.  “Do we need back-up for this?”  He laughed (thank God – I really should just shut up) and said there was an accident a little ways back.  Doesn’t explain why that guy showed up here, but whatever.  It wasn’t for me.  Anyway, he gave me the citation, told me I could either pay early or go to court, show my renewed registration, and there’s a 90% chance the judge would drop the charges.  I’ll see how much the fine is and then decide.  Then he told me to drive carefully and he sent me on my way.

About 4 miles closer to home, I looked in my rearview mirror to see another county sheriff’s car change from the left lane into my lane.  There went the whoop of the siren and the lights.  I pulled over.  Guess what?  He looked at my license plate.  He got to my window, asked for license and registration, and before I could reach for them, he said he was pulling me over because of my expired sticker.  Big surprise, although this time I was speeding a little.  (Maybe 7 over the speed limit.  People in the left lane were going faster than me.)  I picked up the citation that was still sitting on my passenger seat and handed it to him.  “Sir, I was pulled over for that not five minutes ago.”  He checked the time on the citation, checked his watch, smiled a little, and told me he wouldn’t give me another ticket.  Damn right he won’t.  Can they even do that?  I told him I’d take care of it as soon as I got home and spent the rest of the drive home half-convinced he was going to radio one of his buddies to keep an eye out for my car and pull me over again.

No more incidents.  And my registration has been renewed.  How crazy is it that, with one exception, the only times I’ve been pulled over have been for that tiny little sticker AND that I got pulled over twice in a very short period of time in both instances?  Totally crazy.  Loony bin crazy.  Spiders in roller skates crazy.

Zannah to the rescue!

Along with many strangers who happened to be passing by.  I left work early to get home before the weather got really bad, but my normal 20-minute commute took me almost an hour and a half.  What started out as sleet turned into heavy wet snow.  I finally got home and started shoveling the driveway so John (in his Mustang – terrible in this weather) would be able to pull in.  Twenty minutes later, I got a call.  John was stuck.  He was in the right turn lane about a mile and a half away, and he needed rescuing.  I threw the snow shovels in the my car (4-wheel drive – thanks, Dad!) and went to meet him.  We shoveled down to pavement so his tires could get a grip, and he was able to get in the left turn lane.  (A guy in a pickup truck stopped and offered to pull him out, but John had it under control by then.)  He needed to do a u-turn to get home (we were trying to avoid hills – his car wouldn’t make it up a slippery incline), but he got stuck in the left lane at the light.  I got back out of my car and tried to push him forward (the traffic was pretty light – we weren’t worried about pushing him into the middle of a busy intersection), his tires were spinning, and then I heard someone behind me yell, “No no no!  Slow down!  Stop!”  Some other guy had stopped in the turn lane behind me (we all had our flashers on) and was running up to help.  He said he was from Minnesota (there aren’t many credentials better than that in this kind of weather), and he coached John (with totally contradictory suggestions (“Easy now, easy, go go go, no, take it easy!”) through the u-turn while helping me push from behind.  We got John around the median and facing the other way (the right way to go home), and then I followed John up the road.  He made it about a mile and then got stuck (in the middle of the intersection) making a left turn.  This time a guy who was out walking his dogs (and his family) ran over to help me push.  We helped John rock the car out of the center and get across the road.  Our plan at this point was to get to the parking lot of the shopping center where the Bloom used to be and just leave the car there.  We live uphill from everywhere, and there was no way his car was going to make it.  He didn’t even make it all the way to the parking lot.  He got stuck on the road right next to it, but there are parking spaces along that road, so we shoveled one clear and kinda pushed and shoved his car into it.  We’ll retrieve it tomorrow.  That whole time (somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half) the snow was coming down like crazy.  My jeans were soaked through and I had snow falling down the back of my neck.  A warm dinner was called for (and wine for me and rum and coke for John).  Luckily, while the band was rehearsing last night, I made a pot of Dad’s beefy rice (dirty rice, kidney beans, onion, hamburger), and all we had to do was heat it up.  Turned out great.  (Thanks, Dad!)

Car stuff

We’ve gone through a lot of car-related trauma lately.  A month or so ago we had the issue with John’s car not starting sometimes (resolved), and then John had a run-in with a parking garage while leaving work on Thursday.  There was a concrete pillar at the front left corner of the spot, and he was paying close attention to it as he backed out.  He got clear of it, turned the wheel, and CRUNCHED his front left fender into the other concrete pillar, the one at the back left corner of the spot.  There’s a big dent just in front of the wheel well on the driver’s side.  We’re taking it in for an estimate tomorrow morning.

My car is mostly fine, but during my last safety inspection, the guy pointed out that my brakes were on their way out.  This was in May.  John is good with cars, likes working on them, and has replaced brake pads and rotors on several of our cars (among many other, more impressive things, like transmissions), so we finally set the date and decided to do it this weekend.  The front ones, anyway.  That’s what he’s been doing most of the day.  It’s never as easy as we think it’s going to be, but that aside, it’s always worth NOT paying nearly $1000 to have someone else do it.  This job cost us a little over $100 and an afternoon.  And while John worked on the car, I spend a few very pleasant hours on the front steps with my laptop.  I mowed the lawn, front and back, and then I stayed nearby to hand him a tool here, apply a little pressure there, here a rag, there a wrench, everywhere a breaker bar.  The first wheel gave him a little trouble (took over two hours), but, true to form, the second one took less than one hour.  John’s cleaning up, and I’m about to test the brakes.

You may ask why, if John’s so good with car stuff, he’s not fixing the rather large dent in his car himself.  My answer: that’s what insurance is for.

It’s too dark to read

We have car drama, but I’ll save the details until we know what we’re going to do about it.  In the meantime, John gets to work from home (lucky dog!).

More amusingly, check this out (thanks, as usual, to The Bloggess for finding the funniest/weirdest/most awesome stuff on the internet).  My mind is blown.  I knew ducks were hiding something.  Sneaky bastards.

From the same website, here’s one for John.

Want to drool over kitchens?  Here – drool away.  I WANT them.  All of them.  I’ll settle for two or three.

I didn’t run this morning because I’m terribly lazy.  The alarm went off and I sat up and swung my legs over to the side.  Turned on my bedside lamp.  Then I dozed, upright, for nearly half an hour.  Tomorrow I need to take that extra step (standing up will help) and move in the direction of the front door.  Wish me luck.

Issues, both personal and mechanical

I don’t think this is the right time of day for me.  I tend to post in the evenings, but exactly when varies from right after I get home to right before I go to sleep.  Right now, when I’m looking at the clock and calculating how many hours of sleep I can get and trying to decide if that’s going to be enough and will I be exhausted tomorrow or will I hear my alarm and reset it because I’m too tired to run – right now is when I shouldn’t be writing.  I get anxious about getting enough sleep, and feeling like I need to post something before I go to bed makes it worse.  It’s not a high level of anxiety or anything, nothing like when I was traveling, but there’s something left undone and I won’t feel better until it’s done and even when it’s done, if I did it late (like now), I won’t feel enough better because, well, now it’s late.  And later means less sleep.  And for some reason, I can’t be laid back about how much sleep I get.  Solution?  (I’m into solutions lately.)  Post earlier.  Before dinner.  Or get ready for bed and post from there.  That’s worked for me a couple of times.  Which leads me to…why am I not doing that now?

We had some mechanical difficulties today.  Woke up to find the A/C not working anymore, so I called the company who last serviced it and they sent out a technician.  We had an easy problem to fix, luckily, so the A/C was back on by early afternoon and I finished the day working from home.  Love doing that.  Then, I asked John to stop on the way home to pick up dinner (Subway), but I’d forgotten about his weird car issue.  He bought the sandwiches, but couldn’t get home because his car wouldn’t start.  I picked him up, we ate dinner and dodged anonymous phone calls (Iowa keeps calling, but they never leave a message.), and then we headed back to Subway to see if his car would start.  It did, I guess because it had been an hour or two.  John thinks (and I agree, whatever that’s worth) that it’s a temperature issue.  The car will start when it’s been sitting for a while (overnight or the whole work day for sure, and, like tonight, even just for a couple of hours), but if you drive it for 20 minutes or more and then stop just for a couple of minutes, it won’t start until it’s cooled down.  Sometimes it helps to top off the gas tank, but that doesn’t always work.  If he’s only driven it for a couple of minutes (like to the gas station or to Starbucks), it’ll start even after another quick stop.  It’s weird, and if I’d thought about it, I wouldn’t have asked him to pick up dinner.  Maybe that’s the lesson: don’t ask John to pick up dinner.  He’ll like that one.  Even if it doesn’t actually solve the car problem.

Why does there have to be a lesson?  Why is Roxy incapable of backing up?  Why do birds suddenly appear?  Why ask why?  Drink Bud Dry.

I’m not a risk-taker

I went outside today.  For about 10 seconds.  John is trying to figure out why the airbag light is coming on in his car, so I stepped out into the driveway to see how it was going.  John said, “Um…” and pointed to the layer of pollen on the hood of the mustang.  Point taken.  I went back inside.  I just finished the third Dresden Files book, and I’m probably going to pick up the 4th next.  Mostly because I’m too lazy to put much thought into what I really want to read next.  And because I don’t think I can concentrate very well on anything that isn’t brain candy.  If I had another Dean Koontz novel, I’d probably read that, too.  Instead.  Whatever.  I’m staying inside today, and maybe, if John loves me, he’ll bring me egg-drop soup.