Monday, October 6, 2014

Driven To Madness or You Can't Get Here From There

So I took one of our cars in to be serviced Saturday morning. The car in question is a 2002 Toyota Camry which we purchased in May 2002 so we've had this car awhile. 

Yes, I take the car into the dealership for servicing and you may say I'm a sucker for doing that but so far so good, the car has done well by our family for 12 and a half years so I'll stick by that decision. Besides we have a "tires for life" deal from when we purchased the car which means I never have to pay for new tires to replace old tires for wear and tear.  

So I take the car in Saturday morning and a very helpful and professional fellow named Brad took my info and we established what would be done with the car that day: oil change, tire rotation and balance and replace the windshield wipers.*

*Yes, I know people can replace their own windshield wipers. Don't judge me! 

So about 45 minutes later, Brad comes out to me and says, "Mr. Long, we need to talk." 

Nowhere in the history of human civilization have the words "we need to talk" ever been followed by anything good. And that goes double when the subject is women or cars. 

So Brad sits down and begins to calmly go over the various things that needs to be done. Apparently there's a problem with one of the axles. I'm not sure of the specifics, I think it had something to do with a cross beam going ascue on the treadle. Anyway this axle problem was being a disruptive influence on the other car parts in the neighborhood and needed to be fixed before the axle broke off or some damn thing. Really, am I expected to keep track of these things? 

The next problem was significantly less expensive but still nonetheless quite odd. A filter would need to be replaced because something had made a nest in it. Most likely a squirrel. 

Yes, our car had a squirrel problem. 

So accepting that retirement is probably overrated anyway, I approved for the car to be re-axlelated and de-squirreled. I asked Brad when this would done and he said about 1:30 PM. The axle thing would be very tricky.  

At that moment, the time was 10:30 AM. I weighed the option of sitting around the dealership for three hours watching You Tube videos on my phone or calling my wife to come and get me. 

I decided on the latter option. 

I'm not sure why I did that. 

OK, few things about Andrea.
1) She hates driving. As she gets older, she hates driving even more. 
2) She puts up with driving Monday through Friday to get to work and back and a few other places but she has an understanding with God that she should never have to drive on Saturday. 
3) She does not like driving a car other than the 2002 Camry. She was going to have to drive the other car, the 2010 Corolla. It's smaller than the Camry and she likes as much metal between her and the world as possible when she drives. 
4) She really, really hates driving anywhere she's never driven before. Andrea was born in Greensboro. She's lived here all her life here. Yet her navigational skills around this city of her birth are a, shall we say? So she had been to the dealership before but she never had to drive there before. 
5) She can't stand driving anywhere on a moments notice. She needs more prep time than space launch. 

So I'm calling to ask Andrea to drive on a Saturday in the Corolla to somewhere she never been before right now.  

Let's see what happens. 

Good news: our daughter Miranda would be along with her mom for the ride.

Bad news: our daughter Miranda would be along with her mom for the ride.

Our daughter is 13 years old and is incredulous that human adults are in charge because we are so blindingly stupid and is not reluctant about sharing her incredulousness. And she was going to be travelling with a woman who, let's be honest here, was not going to be at her best. 

This was going to be fun! 

Well, I gave directions to Andrea as simply as possible. Follow Bryan to Holden and take the SECOND exit. Do NOT take the first exit. Take the SECOND exit. 

I could relay the rest of the directions I gave her but that would be irrelevant because, well, you know where this is going, right? Good because Andrea didn't. 

She took the first exit. 

Back at the dealership, my "Spidey" sense was telling me something had gone amiss. Well, maybe less "Spidey" sense and more "20 years of marriage" experience. So I call my daughter's cell phone. 

"Honey, where are you?"

"We're on Holden."

Well, that's good. 

"Can you tell what was the last street you went past?" 

"Hold on. Uh, we just went past Spring Garden."

OK, not good. 

Let's say you're a spaceman and you're stuck on Mars. You call Earth for a pick up. Later you find out the ship that's coming for you has zipped past Venus on its way to Mercury. 

Yeah. Kind of like that. 

So I instruct Miranda to tell her mother to turn off Holden at the next intersection, turn around and go back the opposite way. 

So, eventually that works. The first part, turning off onto another street. The whole turning around thing was a little trickier. Miranda gave a recounting of the journey, said it was a lovely neighborhood and the trees were turning a lovely color and other than being hopelessly lost, it wasn't a bad drive, all in all. I'm sure the inherent pleasantness of the experience was probably lost on my wife.

Thankfully the street ended in a cul-de-sac so Andrea could loop around and head back down the street towards Holden. 

At this point, it's about 11:30 AM and I decide I'm tired of waiting around the dealership so I begin to walk. I proceed a couple of blocks until I meet up with Holden and began walking on the left side (facing traffic. Safety first!). I'm thinking I might just meet up with my wife and daughter halfway, especially as Andrea, already gobsmacked by one wrong turn was driving even slower than usual as to not make another wrong turn.

Meanwhile I'm keeping my daughter on the phone who's giving me a play by play of their journey and I'm seriously thinking maybe I should just walk on home.  But around 12 noon, 90 minutes after I made my call for a pick up, we all meet up at the corner of a side street. I climb into the driver's seat to rescue Andrea from further driving. But before I can put the car in drive....


It's my phone.


"Yes, Mr. Long. This is Brad at Toyota. Just wanted to let you know your car is ready now."

I calmly thanked Bryan, returned to the phone to my pocket and I began to laugh. Oh, I laughed and laughed and laughed. 

"Mom, I think Dad's broken." 

Oh, you think this is funny? Well, I'm so glad my suffering amuses you.


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