Monday, November 1, 2010

Gooden Bad

Life, mine anyway, is a mixed bag. It feels like anything good is counterbalanced with something equal or greater than in the not good area. At best, the net effect is neutral. Mostly, it’s like a precarious balance of the see-saw that sometimes feels a lot like the time my brother decided to bail from the see-saw when I was poised at the highest point, and I came crashing down on my back, knocked windless on the playground. Or the time at Lunenburg Town Beach when I fell off the see-saw and fainted in the sand. Or maybe I fainted first. Evidently, I have a history of problems with balance.

A few weeks ago there was a pretty typical example.

In a rare event, one remarkable morning, I woke up both on time and feeling rested. -- events that rarely coincide. It didn’t, however, mean that my night’s sleep was a blessed, uninterrupted event. It featured a 10 pm bedtime followed by the usual “wake-up-after-exactly-two hours” rousing where I marvel at how great the sleep was and wonder if it is 6 am already. A squinty-eyed check of the clock indicates the epic rest was merely a two hour nap. Sleeping commences, one or two hours passes and the cycle of awakenings continues, sometimes prompted by Moose jumping at the side of the bed like a circus performer to announce his need to be outside and conduct some business. To his credit, Moose has become adept at notifying me of his late-night bladder needs, which might be easier to appreciate if the little guy would go outside before bed. Sadly, he is as stubborn as I am.

Back to that day. Awoke feeling good, and the feeling continued in spite of the incessant meowing of the cat who never shuts up and refuses to understand when there is no more lactose-free milk in the place and he is not getting the half-and-half that makes him sick no matter how long he sits in front of the refrigerator wailing. Already been there and cleaned up the cat sick. Thankfully, Moose is as quiet as Merriwether is vocal.

Early computer work indicated bills are current. Calendar check served a reminder that October contains an extra pay period. Sweet sigh of relief that the month might have a longer than usual ramen-free stretch. Once again considered the possibility of flying home for Thanksgiving without having to add to the already hefty credit card debt. At least "Thank You Rewards" points to offset the interest rate, right?

Dress without incident – as in, no missing buttons, falling hems, torn seams, snagged tights or shoes falling apart. Dog fed and crated. Purse loaded with a fresh supply of gum and breakfast granola bars. Final post-departure Facebook check and a cheery post on a friend’s wall that “Life is good!” Head outside and take note of the remarkably beautiful fall day, only a few minutes late with an 8:15 expected arrival time at the office.

Traverse uneven brick walkway to the daily sound of the usually silent Moose barking his indignant cries of separation as soon as the door was locked. Load car with portfolio notebook, daily journal, two-ton purse (what is in that thing, anyway?), cell phone, derby gear bag and derby clothes bag. Assume the position in the driver’s seat. Insert key and turn. Click. Scratchy click. Dashboard lights illuminated. All of them. Bell dinging that door is open. And nothing else. Barely a whimper from under the hood. Try again. Nothing.

Okay. Mind racing. Housemate? Moved out seven months ago. Neighbor who works on cars? Moved away last week. Other known neighbors? Yeah, not a one. So much for the great day. It was good, stress-free seven minutes. While it lasted.

Call the office to notify of automotive issue and ensuing tardiness, and the very level-headed production manager offers a couple suggestions before recruiting a coworker to come over and execute a jump start. While waiting, I call Midas to check on potential age of battery and if under warranty. Alert “Eddie” that the CRV will be rolling in soon with issues.
Jump start successful. Arrive at office, leave car running and run inside to drop derby gear and daily portfolio at desk before heading back out to Midas, two short blocks away. Leave car running while head in to speak to someone inside. One dude sending text messages in the “customer lounge” area which is now boasting ridiculously uncomfortable looking (new) red plastic Adirondack style chairs. Hmmm. Place has been painted since my last visit. A sign near the door to the shop proclaims “Vending Machines located in Shop Area,” not too far from another near the same door that states “Authorized Personnel Only.” I love the fuck you messages. Ha! We moved your machines, AND put them in an area where you are not allowed. Hey, enjoy our newly re-arranged, freshly painted, brutally uncomfortable lounge.

There plenty of time to take all this in, while pacing the lobby area waiting for help. An unseen man in the office answered the phone and embark on what seems to be a personal call. Perhaps I am such a lightweight that I did not trigger the door sensor when I slipped in like a paper doll. Look around, wondering what is the appropriate time to be ignored before barging into the office or the “Authorized Personnel Only” area. Finally, someone emerges from the shop and fetches Eddie, who is poised under a car on a lift, wielding a welder, surrounded in an impressive shower of sparks. Wished for a camera to capture that photo-worthy sight.

Walk up the hill back to the office. Clock in, restart computer, and head to the kitchenette for coffee. And there it is … a foil-covered plate on the “if it’s here it’s fair game for everyone” counter. Whatever is under that foil has got to better than the dry granola bar on my morning menu. And whaddaya know – chocolate cake with chocolate icing. An instant improvement. A great thing to offset the crappy thing that offset the good thing.

When Eddie called with an estimate, the damage for a new 60-month battery plus the regular oil change that was a bit late was $175 plus tax. Hmmm. Roughly one-half the cost of the airfare seen  merely a day earlier when the new Southwest rates came out. Oh, and Eddie says I need new tires. Not necessarily that minute, but definitely before the winter ice. Perfect. Really.

After work, rushed home to let Moose out and get ready for derby practice. Halfway there, realize my derby gear bag was still under my desk at work.

Two days later, the Honda is at the dealer for a check of the door locks that no longer function with the remote. Received the panicked message from the service manager that “the vehicle is on the lift ... please call right away.” Apparently, my brakes were worn down to tissue paper thinness. And that was gonna get me for $577, including the $49 to check out the "door actuator" and the $225 for the part. See-saw down. Bam! And I sat at my desk and cried. Then I boldly marched into the kitchenette and cried some more. Then I swore a bunch., but mostly under my breath. Then I tried to dedicate my overly-stressed self to doing some work. Right.

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