So, you thought it was safe to go back on the road, eh? Not so, my friend,
not so. For my car is on the road and no one, least of all me, is safe.
My car. Again. Now I congratulate those who are right now commiserating with their own tales of woe about their vehicle and related nonsense therein, but I assure you that no matter how bad the situation with your car is, mine is worse.
Take, for example, when last we left our heroine (a.k.a. me), I had purchased a used car after my own car was stolen out of my driveway, had a security system installed by a questionably-intelligent biped with a questionable possibility of working at all, upgraded the shoddy electrical and exhaust systems and swore that I would not pay more than half of the amount for which I bought the car from here until it ran into the pavement. Ah ha ha ha ha ha! How simple life was then...
The usual things like funny noises, rattling of exhaust covers and small creaks as my car began to edge off of its parking brake were no real concern; this was a "used" car after all, and I did not require perfection. However, there was one thing I should have made as a base standard for my vehicle that I was unaware could be a problem: all purchased vehicles should be exorcised of any possessing demons or marks of bad karma before the transaction is complete.
I kid you not. There is no other explanation! The latest episodes prove it!
Okay, so I am driving down the highway on the way to work, ironically congratulating myself that I did not have to go into work today (one of the few perks in my self-employed position), but I figured I'd be good and get some more stuff done on this slow day rather than run errands or cooking or cleaning like some housewife. >shudder<
It was with a detached air that I noticed the truck. Never fear; the truck
itself was far on the left and two lanes over (living close to the first
stoplight of the Midwest Interstate has given me a healthy fear of truckers
asleep at the wheel) -- what caught my eye was the unsteady load it carried
on its flatbed. There were pieces of wood stacked neatly in rows upon rows
as a big block, and it had been apparently saran-wrapped in place. What the
happy homemaker who "secured" this cargo had failed to do was to saran-wrap
the top of the block closed, and I watched with eerie fascination as the top
layer of wood rippled in the updraft created by the cabin speed. There they
were, dozens of two-by-twos waving lazily in the breeze, rocking up and
back; and then they launched like dandelion seeds, like cherry blossom
petals, like a swarm of blocky butterflies...
...right into my car.
I swerved madly when the first boards hit, at least two pinging off my right side and one bouncing off the hood. The one that really caught my attention was the arching piece reminiscent of recent twister movies, spinning end over end in slo-mo until it came through my windshield at super-speed near the base, spraying glass into the passenger seat (luckily not the driver's seat; I had enough nightmares of dying before my wedding, thank you). Crazily, I began honking. The trucker never stopped. I sped up to the cabin honking and screaming; I tried my window but the switch was unresponsive. I motioned for him to pull over and he simply pulled off the highway and kept going. I hit my emergencies: no go. Half my electricity was out and he was getting away! I was two exits away from the office so I drove on and called the police.
No answer. I called again: nothing. I called the operator who called the
police. Someone answered and curtly replied, "We're busy. Hold on." I was on
hold for 12 minutes plus (our phones have counters) before someone answered
and agreed to come out and file a report. When the cop showed up, he was
disinterested to say the least, and I was edging off the hysteria high. He
dutifully asked me what happened and looked at the car and then said what
every other person has said since I have had this incident related aloud:
"Did you get the license plate of the truck?"
Stunned, I replied (a little too) honestly: "No, I was kinda preoccupied with the two-by-twos flying at me at 70 miles an hour."
I saw the logo, though! He didn't care. Gone, he said. I shook my head; there had to be other cars hurt! There had to be two-by-twos littering the highway! If only you would go look...! Nothing. He shrugged and said, "Call your insurance." Big help. But that's what I did.
They listened and wrote everything down and then asked, "Did you get the license plate number?" I gave what would now be my standard reply. They gave me the name of the place they'd want me to get the glass replaced; I went there and it was fine. They'd replace the windshield, but they weren't going to cover the electrical ("Must've been a coincidence." Yeah, right.) I now awaited the check to cover that which I had just shelled-out out of pocket. In the meantime, I had my car and I could go back to work tomorrow.
It was a normal day, as far as normal days at work go, and I wanted to get home early to work on a project before karate this evening. There was a carefree sense of deja vu as I approached my car, much like when I walked right up to the spot my last car was parked because my eyes refused to register that it was missing. I walked right up to this car before my eyes registered the shattered window. I made a mental note and spun on my heel back into the office.
"Hey," I called to my client, "my car's been broken into."
I slammed down my things and began calling numbers. The police didn't even
bother coming out; after only 11 minutes of me waiting on "hold" and eyeing my car
from the window, they gave a report number and hung up. I called the
insurance agent and left a brief message.
"Hi Mary, I wanted to first ask you if the check has been sent to me, as I have not received anything yet. Secondly, I have a new report to file, as my car was just broken into and I have to get the driver's side window replaced."
Now faithful readers (or those who paid attention) note that not only do I have this expensive alarm system on my car, I also have a Club on the wheel, which is in clear view of the driver's side window. It is an idiot-proof security system. Unfortunately, it is not a moron-proof system. Nothing was missing from the car, mostly since there was nothing in the car, and that which is a part of the car wasn't even touched. I hypothesize the would-be thief broke the window, then figured out the Club and alarm would never let him (or her) get away with it and left. In fact, my alarms never even went off -- the company says it's past warranty. We'll be seeing about that...
Bottom line: now I needed a new driver's side window. I was thankful to my client and a number of other people from the building complex who helped me clean up the shattered pieces of glass from inside my car and in the parking lot as best we could. One man suggested the gas station down the street for their coin-operated vacuum; another woman even offered me the quarters from her purse. Eventually, each left for their untouched cars, not one or two away from mine, each smiling gently and thanking their deity-of-choice that it wasn't them! I wished I was them pitying me. I wish the jerk had stolen the car! That'd teach him!
I vacuumed. I made another appointment at the auto body shop. I missed
another day of work. I went to pick up the car.
And. I. Stared. At. My. "Replacement" Window.
The window was bowed almost off the door itself. I could clearly see into my car and, on later experiments, could pass my entire hand up to the wrist between the "closed" window and the outside of the car (I have photos to prove it should the insurance folks doubt!) -- and it was almost comical the way the owner of the shop rushed to my side and said as way of explanation, "It's the best we could do." He talked about how it was in a previous accident, how the door frame was bent, how the glass tracks were pushed so far over, it couldn't fit onto the molding anymore. I slowly turned to face him and asked if he thought the previous glass had somehow bent along with the door (for he was right, I bought this car after a previous accident) yet somehow, the last window fit beforehand. "It's the best we could do," was his refrain. I said nothing. I got in the car and drove home.
The wind wheezed in my ear, actually pushing my hair aside; I could look out into the sky and hear the cars driving by. It fueled my anger until I got to the phone.
"Mary, I just got my car back. The window has been replaced, but it doesn't actually fit on the door. Please advise me what to do next, because I can't drive it this way. It's clearly unsafe and annoying me to hell."
When Mary called back, she said she had spoken to the auto body shop owner
and he said it was the best he could do. I understood that; it's just that I
didn't believe him. She said she didn't know anything about window repair,
so what was she supposed to do? I replied that there was a lot I could do: I
could call the Consumer Protection Association, I could call the Better
Business Bureau, I could call her superior, but I was deciding to call her
and do things this way, so what might she suggest? She said she'd call me
back later (which, unsurprisingly, she never did). And I was still awaiting
my check for the windshield.
I called the auto body shop myself and scheduled another appointment saying simply that the window would have to be fixed as best they could and charge it to the insurance company since that is what they are for. I hung up. I could go to work tomorrow, but I might as well go run some errands and get an oil change this late in the day. I headed out towards the highway...
And the car died. Right in the middle of driving, not shifting gears or turning on A/C or anything, just died. Thank goodness someone was in the car with me, or I might have done something I may have regretted later. As is, I simply lost my temper and then began laughing. We laughed right up to the mechanic's who said they'd run a diagnostic, change my oil and drive me home. They were so nice that the $260 bill for all the replacement wires and plugs didn't bother me so much as annoy me. Once I got the car back, I left it with the auto body shop who (admittedly) tried very hard to get the window to adjust and did a much better job...although it still whistles and leaks when it rains.
But I no longer want to kill something; I simply want a new car.
Yours looks good...
And I'm still awaiting my check from the insurance agency.