Going dark in the dark: Part II

Wednesday morning following the drop-off of Car at the shop, the phone wakes me. At 7.29 a.m. We all know that “morning,” by definition, begins at noon in my universe. This is unconscionable.

“Hi! This is Jason at the shop,” says a far-too-chirpy voice.

“Anghrgh,” I mumble. “Shop. Car. Oh. Yeah. You have an unexpected auto sitting in the drive.”

“Yep. We figured out it was yours, but we need the keys to get into it.”

“What?” I am confused mightily. Tow Guy promised to leave the keys. If he didn’t, the keys are now 150 miles from the car. And the roads are icier than ever. I explain this to Jason. Tell him to look on top of the tires or under the hood or something. He makes mumbly noises and promises to go check while I call Tow Guy and ask about the keys.

Thanks to two-plus hours of what passes for conversation with tow-truck drivers the previous night, I know that Tow Guy’s shift starts at 2 p.m., so I’m not expecting him to be awake at 7.30. And hey! I don’t know his name or phone number. I call Engineer Boy. Engineer Boy says he’ll call his people, who’ll call their . . . well, you know how this goes. But it turns out that Tow Guy’s number is on Engineer Boy’s cell phone, so he passes that along. I call Tow Guy and leave a message. “Hey, thanks again for the ride. The shop says the keys aren’t with the car. Could you please call and let me know what happened, or drop them in the mail or something?”

I hang up, and the phone rings. “Hi, this is Jason again. One of our guys spotted the keys locked inside the car and managed to jimmy the lock and get it open, so we can get into it. We’ll get started as soon as we can!”

“Mrggh. . . great,” I mumble, wishing my morning tea would heat faster and wondering who “jimmy” originally was and why this was named after him. Caffeine has got to make this better . . . doesn’t it? Of course, this means I have to call Tow Guy again.

“Never mind the previous message,” I say. “They jimmied the lock and got the keys out, so they’re working on it.”

The nuker pings, meaning my tea is finally hot, before the phone rings again. “Hi, this is Tow Guy. What do they mean, they can’t find the keys? I put them in an envelope and shoved ’em in the key drop,” he says. “I didn’t know your name, but how many cars can people have left there overnight?”

Ah-ha, I think. An unlabeled envelope. Obviously, the shop guys hadn’t had their morning tea yet, either, and were too embarrassed to admit that they didn’t connect loose, unlabeled car and loose, unlabeled key. I reassure Tow Guy that they did find the keys. Whatever. They have the key and they’re working on the car. I’m willing to cut them some humiliation slack.

The phone rings later. “Hi, this is Jason again. The good news is that the problem is the alternator.”

“OK. That implies there’s bad news. What is it?”

“We’ve had to order the part and it won’t get here until tomorrow.” Order the part. Order an alternator. An alternator. One that is probably used in quite a few of the models they sell. And they don’t have any spares on the shelves? This is at least as bad as not having a replacement oil cap on hand last time I was in, and it’s certainly carrying JIT inventory control WAY beyond its limits! But hey, I’m an old hand at disasters. You just roll with them.

“I can live with that,” I tell him, not even letting on that I think their inventory guy should be taken out, flayed alive, and left on the aforementioned icy roads. He explains how much it will cost, and I explain that I bought the extended warranty and that better pay for it, and a flurry of additional phone calls ensues while that’s settled. Eventually, we learn that after a $100 deductible, the warranty pays. I can adapt. I’m flexible, I tell ya.

I resign myself to a quiet day at home, knitting, walking the dog in the snow, shoveling snow as it accumulates, watching movies. . . and remind myself not to grind my teeth, in case the temporary crown falls off, because I can’t get to the dentist.

Thursday morning, the phone rings. This time at 7.40 a.m. “Hi. It’s Jason again.”

“Jason! How nice to hear from you. How’s the family? How’re the dogs?”

“This is getting weird,” he says.

“You’re telling me,” I reply. “How’s my car?” I know the answer. I know it. I just want to make him say it.

“Well, that’s why I’m calling,” he hedges. “You know how the roads are so slick? Our delivery truck slid off the road about 200 miles south of here and the parts won’t get here today.”

“Golly, gee,” I say in my most unsurprised voice. “Who’d think that could happen?”

“They expect they’ll get it up here tomorrow, though.” That would be Friday. After two days marooned in my snowbound house. But hey. I roll with it.

Thursday, I shovel more snow. Walk the dog farther, and uphill. Friday, I learn from the news that the sliding-off-the-road thing is becoming quite a popular trend all around Puget Sound, and a couple of buses have managed to slide clear down a hilly street and overshoot the guardrails so they’re hanging over the freeway below a high (and now rather less stable) retaining wall. I know. I just know what’s coming.

At 4.35 p.m., Jason calls again. “I have good news!” he claims. Yeah, right. No holding the breath here, you’ll notice. “Your part is here!” More is coming. I know it. “The problem is that it got here at 4.29, and our technicians go home at 4.30. And it’s Friday, so they won’t be back until Monday morning. But your car will be the first thing we do Monday morning! We’ll get it to you as fast as we can!”

I rant and rave for a while, mostly about weather, cabin fever, and the cruel vagaries of fate. It’s not Jason’s fault, after all. Jason makes soothing noises. “Bad luck stalks my life, too,” he says. “I sympathize.” At this point, sympathy makes me feel not one iota better. But I adapt. Really. I just roll with it.

The news now tells me that a really, truly horrible, huge, monstrous, ferocious, no-good, very bad storm is coming in on Saturday. It will bring winds up to 100 mph, and mountains of snow, and blizzard conditions, not to mention gloom, despair and agony. In these storms, my power always goes out. It’s as predictable as the sun coming up. Trouble is, if that happens, I

  • a) have no way to get out of here and impose on a friend with a warm house;
  • b) have no Internet connection, because the router-reset software is on my main computer, which is at Engineer Boy’s house after having undergone surgery; and
  • c) will have no phone with which I can even call and plead for the Red Cross to take me out and shoot me.

Somehow, pondering the lack of Internet until I can get to Engineer Boy’s and pick up my desktop strikes me as more frightful than the prospect of freezing to death. It at least gives me the illusion of contact with the outside world, and once I have no car, no Internet, no phone and no heat, I suspect I shall also have no hope.

I decide I am going to cook Comfort Caramels, something I have not made in a very, very long time. I haul out corn syrup, condensed milk, powdered sugar (it turns out my sugar canister is—surprise!—empty), and pecans. But I have only two tablespoons of butter. My teeth begin to grind. I remind myself about the temp. Then I call my up-the-hill neighbor, who has just that day offered to provide such things if necessary. This is necessary, by damn, it’s necessary!

I explain the situation on the phone.

“You poor dear!” she says. “I’ll bring some butter out and toss it down to you.”

Excellent! However, apparently thinking that I can neither dodge nor catch, she fears that if she tosses it too hard, she might hit me. The butter goes ker-plop into a four-foot drift of very light, powdery snow, which spouts a pretty little plume of flakes as the butter makes contact. And plummets to the ground. I sigh. I retrieve the butter. And I cook up my caramels. Now I’m fortified for high winds, damaging snows, and disastrous avalanches. But I gotta tell ya, my adaptability rope is pretty darn frayed!

Posted by wordsmith


Hey, this is Spinnerin from Ravelry’s Ankh-Morpork Guild o’ Knitters.

Okay – this is an insanely tragic story – but I was laughing hysterically at it. I rilly rilly hope those caramels do their job. Onna stick. Happy Hogswatch!

I see where I got my scrooge side from.

Ryan did suggest the alternator, but he didn’t have a multimeter with him, did he? And for some reason, I don’t carry one in my car! Even knowing what it was, I can’t very well change it out myself, can I? And Ryan’s in Chicago. I don’t know enough about cars to do it myself. And I don’t know a mechanic I’d trust. So fooey on you. It’s much less taking the high road than not knowing any other road to take.

I want decent weather, a car, and world peace for Christmas.

Bah, humbug.

You do realize everytime you take that thing to a dealership and they needs parts, they are going to order new ones which they never stock. If you tell them to get aftermarket ones. Someone in town will have them and have the same warranty or better than stock ones. Also ryan coulda told you in about 3 minutes what was wrong with the electrical system with a multimeter. But, my mother as usual likes to take the high road! Go MOM! Do you want anything for christmas, I have yet to hear?

Leave a Reply