Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Would Be a Really Lame Homeless Person. Or Thief.

Ok, so this girl ran into the back of my Xterra at a stoplight back at the beginning of July. Nothing major (well, to my vehicle, anyway--hers crumpled up like a used tissue.) I finally got around to having the damage repaired and dropped off the Xterra at the body shop on Monday. Since the insurance company had given me a few extra bucks for a rental, we went to Enterprise where they gave me a tiny little Chevy Aveo (aka "the matchbox car mom is driving.")

All day Monday it was fine. Alas, the Xterra was not ready by Monday night (though the body shop never called me to tell me it wouldn't be), so I kept the Aveo one more day. Tuesday morning I put some gas in it. About ten minutes later, I noticed the check engine light was on. No big deal to me, because my last car, the piece-of-crap Kia Sportage, had a check engine light that was perpetually lit. I looked in the manual just to be sure. "Did you just get fuel?" Why yes, I did. Maybe the gas cap was not put on tight enough. That happens. So anyway I went to work and didn't worry too much about it.

Tuesday afternoon. Pick up soccer player #1, drive home, pick up soccer player #2, drive them to practice in a big fat thunderstorm (which we really, really needed, by the way.) Didn't drive through any huge puddles, lakes, or streams on the way there. The Aveo seems fine. Practice is cancelled (yay!) so we go to get some pizza. Mr. Matchbox Car stalls out in the restaurant parking lot, twice. No big deal still, I think. Maybe something is wet.

One hour later. Fortunately soccer player #1 has been picked up by her dad so we don' t have to take her home. Crank the Aveo. It dies. Crank it again, back up, and it dies. Crank it a third time, roll it across the street to the grocery store parking lot, and it dies. Screw it. I am not driving this tin can anymore.

So I call the Enterprise Road Service number, where they act as if no one's car has ever broken down before. I guess that is their job, but it is sort of amusing. They ask, did I remember to put gas in the car? Yes, as a matter of fact it's full. Did I maybe put diesel in it by mistake? Um, no, I'm not a dumbass.

Enterprise connects me to AAA, who calls a tow truck for me and then tells me I have to wait until it shows up maybe 90 minutes later. And then what? I say. I have no way home. The AAA guy acts surprised and then connects me to another line that just rings about 20 times in a row and then disconnects. Meanwhile I really have to pee so we go in the grocery store where of course they are cleaning the women's room for what seems like thirty minutes. I call my husband and he says he can come pick us up but it will be about a half-hour.

Next, the towing company calls and asks me where I am because AAA has given them the wrong address to the grocery store. They say they will be there in 30 minutes too, not ninety. Okay so far. Except I still have to pee because the teenage boy who is cleaning the bathroom is not familiar with middle-age moms who have marble-sized bladders, and is apparently cleaning the floor with a toothbrush or something.

We see the tow truck coming about fifteen minutes later and I'm not sure what I am supposed to do with all the crap that I have stuffed the car with, so we get a shopping cart and load it up with soccer gear, mailing supplies I had picked up earlier that day, my tote bag, my purse, and some leftover pizza from dinner. The car is taken away and my daughter and I have to sit on a bench in front of the grocery store because, OH! did I mention it was still raining? And that was the only dry place to sit and wait.

Of course we are in one of the higher-end neighborhoods of Chapel Hill, so most of the people coming in and out of the store would look at us, then the shopping cart full of crap, and smile this little sad smile, then look away. If I would have felt safe leaving my daughter outside by herself for a minute, I would have gone into the Harris Teeter and purchased a couple of forties and stuck them right on top of the cart, just to complete the humiliating picture. At that point I think I would have liked to drink one, anyway. Except for the needing to pee part.

So hubby comes along eventually and we unload the cart into his trunk and he says, why don't we go by and see if the Xterra is done? What if it is? I say. Then you can drive it home and come back and pay them for it tomorrow.

Isn't that stealing? I say, and he laughs. It's your car, hon, just call them and tell them you took it. So we went by, and it was there, and it was ready, and I took it. And I felt really guilty.

And then today when I called Enterprise to get the Aveo thing straight, they still wanted to charge me for two days instead of one. And acted like that was some sort of favor they were doing me, because I had somehow mysteriously caused their little tin can to bite the big one. Nu-uh, no ma'am, I am only paying for one day, thanks very much.

PS-The Xterra let me know how much it had missed me by giving off this weird little puff of white smoke and a burnt-plastic smell from under the hood this morning. So it gets to go to the shop AGAIN on Friday.

I wish I lived somewhere where I could ride the bus to work, I truly do.

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