Tuesday, September 06, 2011

My Sunday night not too long ago ...

I had been having a great weekend. To begin with, it was a complete 2 day off weekend and that just doesn't happen enough. It is amazing how quickly the wheels can figuratively fall off.

6:41 PM Sunday as my weekend was winding down I put the key in the ignition of my van and got a whole lot of nothing in response. No click. No turnover. No bells or whistles or lights flashing. Nothing.

Nothing can be a jolt.

There I was sitting on a Sunday evening in my van with my daughter parked on the street near Green Lake and I was feeling pretty smacked in the face.

I do not drive the best of vehicles. I know that. But, I try to keep it running and am aware of any odd noises or creaks it makes. It has always had moments where it started roughly, it is a 94 with almost 250K miles on it after all. But, again nothing was not expected.

It is hard to maintain one's composure in situations where one feels smacked in the face, but I tried by taking several deep breaths. I popped the hood, grabbed some stuff from the back of the van, and even popped under it to try and see if there was anything noteworthy. More nothing.

I do not want to put any money into this van beyond basic maintenance.

My first call was to Scott and he had me try a few tricks, one of which led to a single click from the starter. A starter is not catastrophic in its repair cost so that was at least something. I felt fairly confident I was only dealing with a starter at this point so that helped. However, it was a Sunday evening and I was down at Green Lake with my daughter.

So ... while we were waiting for the help to arrive to get my (extremely helpful under the circumstances) daughter home I also placed a call to my insurance company and got the ball rolling for a tow. All things considered this was not going to be too bad, just needing a tow, pay for a new starter, and move on. In effect that is mostly what happened, but the details are a bit different in how it all came about.

The process began at 6:41 PM, I did not get home until 12:40AM ... six hours of joy.

It was best to go ahead and have the ride come and get my daughter, and although I missed her company I had to figure it was for the best.

The tow truck took its time.

Bear in mind I was doing my own diagnosis and repair attempts for close to an hour before call for the tow. The tow was to arrive within an hour and ten minutes, so I would expect to be pulled up to Lynnwood by about 9 PM.

9PM came and went.

I tried my insurance company and could not get anywhere in their phone tree. I missed a call from someone. Things were starting to get frustrating.

9:25PM a call comes in from the tow truck driver to inform me he might be a bit behind and should be there in a while as he was in Lake City. Fine.

It took him over an hour to get to Green Lake from Lake City. 10:30 a tow truck finally arrives with a mildly tired and frazzled tow truck driver. It has been almost 4 hours since I first attempted the ignition. It is over an hour since the tow truck driver told me he might be a little late even though it was 25 minutes late when he first called me. Fine.

I hop in the tow truck for the ride to the repair shop I am having the van dropped off at. For the next 20 or so minutes I am given the opportunity to reflect on the story of how unjust it was that my tow truck driver was arrested a few nights earlier. In this instance I am faced with no viable option other than to let the man rant and occasionally nod and agree with him. I can imagine it is a shock to find one's face against the hood of one's vehicle with one's hands in cuffs. I can imagine it is not fun to call my employer to inform him I have been working with a suspended license for some time. 48 hours later he is working and driving and has me in the cab of the tow truck and my van hooked up, but no worries. The seat belt does not work, but I decide to hold it in place because that would probably not help the situation were I to point it out to him.

We get to the repair shop, drop the van, and he offers me a ride home. It is almost 11PM, I am tired, and it is about a 4 or more mile walk home. No thanks on the ride. I grab myself and start walking.

I really don't mind that walk and I did not have to be at school until 9:30AM the next morning so all things considered it should be fine.

The walk really is not too bad and starts out to be kind of cathartic actually. The first mile or two is fine and I am walking briskly making good time when an SUV or van or something swerves towards me on the walkway and something comes flying out of a side window striking me on my left hip and more or less exploding fluid of some sort all over me. As I look behind me I see someone leaning back into the vehicle and I hear serious laughter emanating from the rapidly fleeing vehicle.

I am soaked and sticky at this point, which given that I am already tired and frustrated and still a couple miles from home at midnight sets me off on a really loud screaming tirade directed in the general direction of the vehicle. It was kind of an impressive display in some ways, but I probably owe an apology to the residents of the nearby houses. The fluid appears to have been something like a soft drink, which is probably a small victory in some ways.

Local police are not remotely interested in things like this. Make a note of that should it happen to you and save yourself the aggravation of getting no help when you call.

The last couple miles are more stomping than walking. It is hard to get right to sleep when I finally get home.