Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

March 12, 2010

God What a Week!

You know it's gonna be a shitty week, when your boss tells you on Friday afternoon (3/5) to be prepared, because Monday's gonna be a wicked bitch. OK, I can handle that. As long as I don't have to work over the weekend, I can deal w/ whatever fresh hell is in store for me on Monday morning. Therefore, last weekend was supposed to be a regular old weekend. Errands, crafting, blah blah blah.

Because I'm "one of those people" who prepares for every contingency when I go out of town, I decided to take my car to Jiffy Lube last Saturday morning for an oil change. We've used that company for years and years for our cars. They are quick, and it costs way less than taking the car down to the dealer in Puyallup and waiting eons for service. Because our vehicles are paid for, and because we can't afford to take on car payments, we are vigilant about keeping up with the maintenance. It was also time for the transmission to be flushed out and all that happy crap, so I had them do that as well. My freshly lubed and flushed car was done in about 45 minutes, and I was sent on my merry way, to the grocery store at the other end of town.

I pulled out onto Highway 410, and the car seemed to be running a bit rough and would buck with each shift (I have an automatic). I was growing more concerned, but decided to take the "Just call me Cleopatra, Queen of Denial" approach and turned up the radio. I turned into the Safeway parking lot and pulled into a parking space. Stepped on the brake. Car didn't stop. Oh crap. Oh fucking crap. My car bucked 3 times, rolled into the space in front of me (thankfully no one was parked there), and died. I sat there, bumming hard. I cannot miss work on Monday, or even be late!! Because Brian had to go into the office where he's working part time, I couldn't even borrow his truck. It was still before 9, and Brian was doing the Free World Pub at home, on the internet, so I had no way of letting him know I was in deep shit. I fished out the Jiffy Lube receipt and called them. They sent a tech down immediately, who attempted to trouble shoot the problem. He got the car going, and had me follow him back to the shop. When I got there, my car died in their parking lot. I so totally did NOT need this right now, ya know?

After about 10 minutes, they told me that everything was fine, they fixed it and I would have no further problems. I was shaken, and starting to question the wisdom of driving out to Kalaloch next week, when there ain't nothin' around for miles and miles; a place where you might see a logging truck or RV once in awhile and that's it. But I got back into the car and went back down to Safeway. It seemed OK, I pushed it a few times to get it to shift and was mostly satisfied, but still, something nagged at me. I went so far as to look up Kalaloch's cancelation policy when I got home that day.

Went to work on Monday and I was hypersensitive to every vibration and noise. Got there, survived the promised hell, and arrived home OK. I was still uneasy and spooked. Went to work OK on Tuesday, and was just starting to feel better when It Happened.

I left work and went thru 2 traffic lights OK. At the 3rd light to get on the Highway 16 exit ramp, my car stalled. Oh fuck are you kidding me? Am I going to be the "stupid fucking bonehead who's gone and fucked up the commute, and oh by the way, thank you VERY MUCH ASSHOLE' that I rail about on a daily basis? I waited for the green light, turned the ignition and got it going. I actually had to run the red light on the metered on ramp because I knew I'd never ever get going again if I had to stop. My car was dying. I knew it. I could feel it. No amount of gas was helping the situation. As I rounded the first turn and saw the stop and go traffic, I just admitted defeat, and pulled off into the breakdown lane, and activated the flashers, and hoped that no one would come whipping around that turn and drift into my lane. And OF COURSE my cell phone was about dead. I mean, why would it be charged? No no no. Mine has to be about dead. Now I have to plug the phone in, start the car and floor the gas to keep it running so that I can make phone calls.

Now, I'm not the kind of person who is good in an emergency. I'm the person who wails and cries, and panics and rends her clothes, and probably ends up dead. You definitely don't want to rely on me in an emergency because I am not sure I could ever rise to the occasion. I've made my peace with the fact that it's one of my many, many, MANY character flaws. I'm just not that person. Brian's that person. So the first place I call is work and I'm hysterically screaming at Debby that I've broken down on 16 and what the fuck am I gonna DOOOOOOOOOOOOO??????
She put Steve on and he tried to talk me down while she looked for the number of a tow service for me. She gave me the #, I call them and they tell me I have to call Triple A FIRST, and they will call the tow truck. Jesus H. Are you fucking KIDDING ME? So I hang up and call AAA who were really, really great. OMG the service rep was flying thru the info b/c she knew my phone was dying. She dispatched the same tow service I'd called and told me they should be there w/in a half hour. Meanwhile, I can't get ahold of Brian b/c he got a new Crackberry...I mean Blackberry....and for whatever reason, he's having major trouble receiving calls from my cell anymore. We've tested it. When I call, his phone does not ring. Steve told me that his wife and daughter just got new Crackberries and are complaining about the same thing, so it's clearly a design flaw. Either that or they are trying to sucker me into having to get a smart phone b/c mine is so obsolete that it can't interface with his.

Brian finally sees that he has like a billion missed calls from me, and finally calls me. I was hy-ster-i-cal. Seriously. And now I have to pee wicked bad. Naturally. He told me to just sit tight b/c the tow would probably be there soon and he'd meet me at the Korum dealership in Puyallup, where I was being towed. When we hung up I just burst out crying. I cried and cried. Breaking down on a major highway has always been one of my biggest fears, because I've been commuting on them for nearly 20 years. I tried to pull myself together and looked in the rear view mirror and saw a large tow truck coming up. I was hoping that it was mine and I nearly peed myself with relief when I saw his blinker come on. It was a huge truck, which quite frankly sounded to me as though it was going to conk out and need a tow as well. The gas gauge was on E too. So I just averted my eyes and hoped we'd be able to bounce and cough our way to Puyallup. I mean seriously, the way the last couple of years have gone, it would not have surprised me one single iota if the tow truck broke down too. But it didn't.

Oh, and I must insert here that, during my breakdown, I wouldn't listen to the news talk radio b/c I didn't want to hear myself on the traffic report.

And also, as a side note not one cop showed up, not one cop that was on Highway 16 stopped. Traffic was stop and go for quite some time next to me, and a Tacoma PD car edged right by me and never even acknowledged my existence. I turned and looked right at him and he was looking straight ahead. Fucker. AAA told me that they had notified the State Patrol, but I received zero assistance. Brian thinks it's because of my stickers & Grateful Dead license plate frame that the cop didn't stop. Brian's stickers are very politically inflammatory, mine are just pretty. At least I think so. So what if they are dragons & wolves, an elemental pentacle, a Maine Steal Your Face and a Canadian flag that says "Victoria"? Am I really being profiled as unworthy to help because of that? But I digress....

After we got to the dealer, which was fortunately still open, it was just a matter of paperwork and Brian taking me home. When I arrived, I had a Xanax for dinner. The next day, he got up at 6:30 and drove me to work. I felt so bad, but there was no other option and missing work was not an option, so needless to say, I appreciated it. I walked thru the front door and quipped to Steve, "Advil and coffee. Now." He broke up laughing. I marched to the kitchen to get a cup and pop a couple. I hadn't told him about what had happened w/ my car over the weekend, but it all came tumbling out now, including my abject terror of going to Kalaloch in a car I was now afraid to drive. Brian very sweetly was offering up his truck for me to use, b/c he didn't want me to miss my trip. But it's not my car. He has a CD player, and I like my mix tapes. I've always loved doing road trips in my car. It's been part of my life for a long time, traveling by myself in my car, having adventures and experiencing things that are my own. Steve even agreed with me that if I didn't feel 100% sure my car would make it to the coast and back, I shouldn't go. It's just too desolate.

At 10, Brian called to say that my car was done. I couldn't believe it. I asked if they told him what was wrong and he said it was something about a cracked clamp and debris that got inside. He picked me up at 3 and went to get my car. Turns out, the crack techs at Jiffy Lube had left a hose disconnected and a hose clamp was broken. When I was driving, a piece of cellophane got sucked up inside and blocked the air flow to the engine. They couldn't even move the car out of the parking spot into the garage till they removed the cellophane, which I got to keep as a souvenir of my breakdown on Highway 16, as depicted here at the bottom of my invoice. And only $90, which was not near as bad as what I was expecting. Again, nearly peed myself with relief.

Is it Jiffy Lube's fault? Probably. But Korum Hyundai certainly isn't going to come right out and say it. Am I going to hire an expert witness? Nah. Did I write letters to both Jiffy Lube Corporate in Texas and the Bonney Lake shop? Yes. I didn't come right out and ask for reimbursement, but I sent copies of the tow & dealer bills with my letters. Do I have a little more sympathy for people broken down on the highway during the commute? I guess.

My car's running really good now. I am more confident that I can make the trip to the coast on Friday, which is good because I have got to get the hell outta here and the long range weather forecast is looking pretty good.

Keep your fingers crossed that I encounter no further problems.


  1. Anonymous1:09 PM

    Once upon a time. I broke down on my way back from a friend who lived a couple of hours drive away. I duly called the recovery service I paid a subscription to0. It was 8pm. At midnight, someone showed up, but explained it was the end of his shift, and he couldn't get my car going anyway, so I'd have to wait for the tow truck. Off he goes, leaving me sitting in the dark, in a 'dead' car, on a country road, on my own. The truck showed up at 2am. How happy I was that as 'a woman alone' I was a 'priority call-out' or I'd probably still be waiting ;0)

    Sympathies Jojo, let's hope that's the end of any car traumas!

  2. OMG Diane, I hope you complained to the recovery service!!! That's horrible! You must've been so scared and frustrated. Car trouble just sucks. Just ask Axe. lol

  3. Anonymous1:36 PM

    I tried to make myself believe I was more bored than 'nervous'. I didn't dare put the interior light on in the car to read my book, not wanting to draw attention to the fact that there I was, all on my lonesome!

  4. Glad to hear you got it sorted, and that you are safe. The first time I bought a brand new car, two hoses came adrift in the first week, but luckily no lasting harm was done.

    As for main dealers, I once had a list from them of at least half-a-dozen things that needed doing to my car, but as they couldn't get in touch with me, they couldn't get my agreement. (One of the things was needing a new brake master cylinder!) When my friendly local mechanic got back from holiday, I gave the car and the list to him. NOTHING needed doing. He replaced the fanbelt just to make the labout charge feel a bit better (£24 in total instead of £300+)

    Don't get me going on the police, either. My parents used to live on a main road, with my bedroom overlooking it, and pedestrian crossing lights outside. There were always accidents holding up the traffic, and I could see the police cars coming up the nearby side road and turn the other way rather than stop and help direct the traffic round the accident. Once there was even a split petrol tank, and a guy stuck in his car because the doors were kinked, and still they disappeared and left the people waiting for the fire brigade.

  5. Oh I have had a few highway breakdowns in my day. Commuting on the island of Oahu is a nightmare during morning and afternoon 'rush hour' where you're not rushing anywhere. My incidents were pretty easily handled, though. But then I have this calm 'what are you gonna do now?' demeanor that comes from good Samaritans stopping for me.

    I'm a long standing member of Triple A because I've always owned at least one junker. It's come in handy, too.

    I do relate to that feeling of 'oh no, no, no! I'm not going to break down on the freeway!!!' feeling. Triple A or not.

    Glad to hear you're all right. I know my biggest fear is being hit by someone who isn't paying attention. It happened to me once when I broke down in town in Battle Creek. Someone came around a corner too fast and didn't see my emergency lights or something and slammed into the back of my car. Fortunately it was only at about 15 mph as opposed to the 35 which would have been the speed limit if they hadn't been in the process of braking to take the corner.

    As to cell phones, my husband has a crackberry and I have a LG Lotus. I just want a phone, not a portable computer. The Lotus is not quite a year old but sometimes he doesn't get my calls right away either. It's intermittent. Do you have Sprint for your service provider? I'm not sure if it's the crackberry or our service. My stepson had one and didn't have problems but he was with Alltel at the time.

    Ah well, I actually need to work today at some point. Just feeling a little lazy. lol

    Hope your week is going better!

  6. i think i'd be as paranoid as you faced with that situation too - i had a car that once kept breaking down on me, yet when hubby took it out, he said there was nothing wrong with it - huh!!!!!!

  7. Ann, that sounds like the LOCI episode Baggage! Watch out!