Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'....

You get busy, preoccupied, bombarded with work, car troubles, gigs, and the occasional drama, you blink and the next thing you know - *POOF* - 3 months go by and you haven't written a blog!

Well, you can thank my dad for reminding me to keep all of you who don't stalk me on Facebook up to speed on my life (such as it is). This was SO much easier when I could plan an hour of "me time" in most days before working at my predictably scheduled desk job. As it is, this is the first day off I haven't booked solid in MONTHS it seems!

Okay (deep breath). We have a lot of things to cover, so let's get down to business... Meeting is called to order! (BAM!)

Most of the past 3 months have been sucked up in trying to get my money-pit of a car dealt with. It's working - then it's not - then it is... UGH! Basically, this was an extension of all of the problems with it that I covered in the LAST blog: mostly overheating. Without going into the details of that POS I'd rather forget, I'll just say that nearly $2000 in repairs, lost wages, bus fare, and bottles of Excedrin after it all started, just to attempt to just get it safe to drive, I dumped it off on someone who can do something with it.

Once I decided to get rid of it, the guy I had been paying to put all the parts that he THOUGHT he needed to fix it into it offered me $200 for the whole thing. The day I'm ready to sell it, he chickens out, in what was likely a chance to talk down my price. "Fuck it," says I, and head to CraigsList. I list it for $500 and sold it that day to a guy who owns a shop, can fix the problem, and give it to his teenage daughter. I got about 20 calls and dozens of e-mails on it and I probably could have gotten more, but I just wanted it out of my life. I got 2.5x what I was planning on getting for it, and it went to the best of all possible homes: a teenager who needs a simple, safe junker that her dad can fix right and for cheap.

Next (actually, first), I needed to find a replacement. After scouring CraigsList for deals, I found that the only cars in the Detroit Metro Area available that DIDN'T need major repairs BEFORE they were drivable, all cost at least $1500. That was assuming I could find a way to BFE (read: outer suburbs), with no working car, to even LOOK at them. Thankfully, my friend Jenelle's husband knew a guy who was getting rid of one of his cars - a 1994 Pontiac Trans Sport with 185k miles on it. I wasn't keen on owning a gas-guzzling minivan with so may miles, but the price was right - $800. If it was running and ready to go, I was in.

My friend Lou drove me out there to look at it. It was in IMMACULATE shape (for a 16-year-old car with nearly 200k miles), and owned by a retired GM engineer who mostly used it for road trips to Florida (highway miles, good). I only got to drive it on the bumpy back dirt roads of Clarkston, but it seemed solid. Regardless, it ran, no weird noises, and all the gauges seemed to be in the right place.

My cousin (who I hadn't actually seen in person for over 2 decades) had been following my Facebook feeds about my car woes, and being grateful for getting back in touch with her and providing a family connection and support during her time of need, she offered me the money to cover the car. I had initially refused, as I had hoped my old car would be repaired after the last round and didn't want to take advantage of or burden my family with my problems, but when that didn't work, I reluctantly took her up on her offer. Once again, I am in awe of the wonderful friends and family I have accrued over the years, and hope to perpetuate this positivity and sense of selflessness. Since I can't make a difference monetarily, I just 'pay it forward' in every other way I can think of.

As I drove my new car home last Wednesday, I noticed a slight wobble coming from the back end. It didn't seem severe, but I decided to get it looked at. Thursday and Friday I worked both jobs and I had the kids for the weekend, so I planned on taking it in today (Tuesday). Well, after taking off to drop the kids home on Sunday, the tire exploded on the freeway. I pull over, instruct the kids to stay in their seats, and assess the damage... "Hmf. Just change the tire. No problem."

Well, in a standard sedan, no, but with an under-mounted spare with some weird gear system to release that I had no clue as to access - yes, problem. I called a tow truck. They responded quickly, let me watch the process carefully in case I needed the spare again, and had me on my way a scant 40 minutes (and $45) after the initial hobble to the shoulder.

All was well, however the brakes didn't seem to escape unscathed. I crept along at a snail's pace to the nearest exit and called the ex to come meet me to get the kids. The kids and I piled out at a Meijer to wait for their mother and sat in the book section, reading - Courtney read Dr. Seuss aloud, Liam read one of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books, and I started Stephen Colbert's "I Am America (And So Can You)".

The next day, after limping my car to work, I limped to a shop Lou had HIGHLY recommended, to get the car looked at. They gave me their wi-fi password so I could use my laptop while I waited, and were exceedingly friendly, up-front, and honest. They repaired the severed brake line, replaced the blown tire with a solid used one, and gave the whole thing a good 'once over' to warn me of potential problems. They even ran the diagnostic computer on it. They ran down every part of the bill in detail with me, in case I had any questions or concerns. All tolled, it took about every penny left in the "Murphy's Law" fund I had expected to pay for an $800 car, but no more. For this I got a clean bill of (immediate) health for the car and a good does of peace of mind! I was back on the road again!

Anyway, the long and not-so-short of it, is that I have a bright red 1994 Pontiac Trans Sport SE that runs beautifully parked in my driveway now!
My new car!
(FYI - this is NOT my driveway!)

There are an ass-load of other things that have happened in the past month, including a quartet gig at a REAL gentleman's club (tuxes, brandy, and cigars, not strippers, kamikaze shots, and venereal diseases), an invitation to the first Michigan Harmony Brigade, becoming the director of a barbershop chorus, and PLENTY more, but I'll get to those when I have more time (hopefully sooner than 3 months). I figured those stories would all be playing in the background of the transportation debacle, so I should hit that one first.

And later....the rest of the story(ies)...

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