Saturday, February 02, 2008

Lucky 3

I know. It's almost eerie the silence over here. We're actually fairing pretty well, though the first two weeks seemed like a trial by fire, which came to test my confidence in the number 3.

You see it's always seemed to me that bad things came in threes. I like it. It's a small number, you rack up three bad things, and then you know you're done. What I found though was the problems with the system, glitches. You see, I was counting the failed hot water heater as 1, the dog throwing up on the bed as 2, and a simple tune-up on the car gone horribly wrong as 3. So you see I was done. But then with the three inches of very wet snow, the power failed, and I quickly realized that dog vomit is not as bad as I had previously assessed.

So we made it for two hours with no electricity. I went into planning mode and I quickly fixed them dinner, put them all into their warmest PJ's, and we lit the candles and told stories. Then the power came on again, and we did a little power is great dance, spent a half hour watching tv and then it went out again. So once it got dark we all went up to bed and Emer and I tried to remember the plot of every Shrek movie. Tully eventually fell asleep -Emer is an excited story teller, then Felix then Emer. I fell asleep quickly.

Later my luck turned. But I have to go back before I can go forward. You see I had originally scheduled a tune up for the car because it was sounding a bit funny and I suspected the air filter was clogged and needed replacing. Eric had taken his car for a check up before his trip and he had told me the story of all the mechanics huddled around his car laughing, only to discover they were laughing because his air filter was filled with nuts. So with visions of nuts in my air filter I strolled into the dealership and explained my crazy theory of air filters and a car that didn't seem to have the right amount of pick up. Have you been to a dealership? Because this is how they set up the mark; let you sit in the waiting room with cnn repeating the same stories for what seems an eternity, call out your name with their little clip board in hand and say they'd just like to talk over a few things with you. This is where they pile on the additional services that would cost a fraction at a regular mechanic and try to talk you into going for the full service package. I was in that waiting room long enough to see the pattern, also to see that besides the elderly and women there weren't any stereotypical -I have an innate knowledge of cars type fellas around either.

So the guy called me over for our little talk and I agreed to replace the left front strut that was leaking. I also said I would probably reschedule another day to have the brakes and rotors replaced but that I really had to go. I also asked on my air filter and if it had been checked. Guy told me it had, tried to talk me into more. Finally, I leave the dealership. I run some errands and then have all three kids in the car and the engine light comes on, suddenly the car is straining to get up hill. I managed to get where I was going, though I was pretty stressed out at this point. Luckily a friend had met me where we were dropping the kids, she followed me back to the dealership where I left the keys, as well as a few choice words about how I had taken the car there so this wouldn't happen and that I wanted a diagnosis by the morning. Morning came and I called only to be told that I have a failed throttle position sensor which is a non serviceable part and the entire throttle body would need to be replace for 1750! Oh but the dear gents offered to get to my brakes too. So scrambling in my mind for some rational thing that had been overlooked I asked again about my air filter and if it had been checked and he said that it had and I asked if he could verify that it had been checked and he said he could. I also asked about the fuel filter, same story. I told him I would call him later to tell him what I had decided but that at the moment I had no confidence in either their ability or trustworthiness. Okay, my language was a little more course than that, but I'm giving you the cleaned up version. Long story short, no really it's still long -I limped it over to another mechanic and they took the throttle apart, cleaned it, put it back together and charged not much at all. I had them replace the brake pads and resurface the rotors too. They are now on my xmas card list and I'm going to bring them home baked cookies. They liked my nuts in the filter story, especially when they pulled out my filter to see that is was as black as night.

I went back to the dealership. With Tully on my hip, her naked Madeline doll in her hand and a dirty filter in my other hand. I dropped it on the guys desk and asked if he had a minute. I gave him my tirade, loud enough so other customers could hear, he sent me to the service manager, I repeated my shpeal and they stonewalled me. At this point I was shaking. There's this adreneline rush that comes with confrontation and for me it's like a whole pot of coffee. I threatened to call the better business bureau, call one of those consumer reporters from the local news agency, and take them to small claims court. I felt like the shaking was my tell though and it was giving away my bluff that I don't really have the time or resources to pursue all that. They said I could do what I please, and that an air filter wasn't covered in the minimal tune up. I left feeling foolish. Still shaking. Air filter with me of course for my fictional court case.

20 minutes later I got the call that they would be refunding the cost of the tune up back to my card. I think the naked Madeline doll was the most compelling component of my argument though. And while I was getting the call about that I proceeded to find 3 cheap and sturdy pieces of furniture that we'd been needing at Salvation Army! My lucky day!

That's all the story I have time for tonight but in my next installation of the continuing saga I'll tell the tale of the luckiest flat tire I've ever had. It's a much shorter story I promise.

Things are looking up! And here's proof. Don't forget to vote!

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