Saturday, February 5, 2011
Well, yesterday went to hell without even the hand basket.
It started well, I’m getting into the groove of the novel, and was feeling rather optimistic. Wrote a full chapter, figured I’d run my errands, write another in the afternoon, then maybe get a partial chapter done at night.
Go to PetSmart, load up, and then . . .
My key won’t go into the ignition.
The key went in about 1/4 of an inch, and that’s it. Now, I knew it was the right key, because there’s only one car key for each of us, and we keep it separate from any other keys. It worked just fine to get us there. Tried my mom’s key, same thing. Then the steering wheel locked, and none of the usual tricks to unlock it worked; from there, the gears locked, and then the brake pedal froze.
I called Roadside Assistance, who’d never heard of that before, but they told us they’d send a tow truck to take us the two miles down the street to the dealer. I called the dealer to give them a heads up that we were coming. They said fine, but they couldn’t get to the car until at least Monday, and they’d help us rent a car. Um, no, until I know what the hell’s going on, I’m not RENTING a car.
While waiting for the tow truck and not knowing how long we’d be car-less, I walked across the complex to Shaw’s to pick up some necessities. Made it back before the truck came.
The guy driving the truck was about twelve (okay, he was at least old enough to have a license, but to me, he looked twelve). He couldn’t figure out what it was, either, and then said he didn’t have room to take us in the truck. I wanted my mom to ride with him and I’d walk, but she wouldn’t, so we both wound up walking two miles on Rt. 132, which is a major road around here, without sidewalks. And there was too much ice on the side of the road, so we couldn’t walk on the side, we were walking in the street, into the traffic. Not fun for us, not fun for the drivers, but that’s the way it was.
The car got there before we did, I filled out the paperwork, retrieved the cat food and groceries from the car, and the dealer had someone drive us home,
Got home, unpacked the food, walked down to the local shopping plaza at the end of the road off of which my little road sits — about 3/4 of a mile, not far. Got some cash out of the ATM, figuring we’d need it, and Dunkin’ Donuts, because donuts make everything less stressful.
Afternoon writing session was blown; I spent it trying to track down my cousin’s email. He’s a big deal over at VW’s head office in Germany, and I wanted to run everything by him, find out what questions to ask, what to listen for, etc., etc., so I’m not standing there just taking anything they tell me as fact; I wanted some knowledge to back up what’s going on. I have reason not to trust this particular organization, but they’re the only game in town, so I have no choice.
I have my cousin’s address, I have his phone number at home, but no email address. I tried calling him, but it’s Friday night, and he and his wife were hopefully out having a good time, and there was no answering machine. I thought that was odd, but, whatever.
I dug around the website and figured out how the German execs set up their email, and I fashioned an address for him along the corporate protocol. Sent off a long, detailed email, which, hopefully, he’ll get on Monday (it’s Europe, I seriously doubt he’s checking work email over the weekend; they actually believe in Quality of Life there).
Around 4:15 or so, the dealer called; they’d gotten to the car and discovered the ignition needs to be replaced. And the part has to be ordered from Germany. It takes about ten days or so, it’s covered under warranty, and, if we could get there before five, they’d put us in a loaner. I explained that I have to work in CT soon, and they said no problem, I can drive out of state with it. I brought it up because, when we lost the Ford in the flood in 2007 and the insurance company arranged for a rental (and paid for most of it), we had to tell them when we signed for the car in which states we would be driving, because technically, we were supposed to stay in-state with it. Since this was a big rental car company, that makes no sense, but whatever). The dealer said no problem. I asked for the name of a cab company, and they said they’d send the driver back out for us. I gathered whatever paperwork I thought might be useful, the driver came just before 5, and off we went.
Did the paperwork for the loaner (which took awhile, since I insisted on reading the entire agreement before signing it), and we are now driving a 2010 dark blue Jetta. It handles beautifully, although the seats are situated differently, much lower, and I feel like I’m driving a sports car. Like most VWs (the ones in which my cousin’s been involved in designing, anyway), this one is practically telepathic — think of what you will do next, and the car does it before you can act on it. It’s not my Blue Bunny, but it will do in the interim. But it was too late to get up to Long Pasture for the Owl Release.
Drove it back, and will spend some time today in daylight learning its bells and whistles, and checking through the manual. Sent my cousin a follow-up email about what’s going on. It seems like everything’s on the up and up here, so I’m cautiously optimistic that I won’t be hit with an enormous bill at the end of it. I still want my cousin’s opinion, though. He knows every centimeter of how these cars are put together.
It changes my work schedule for February. Instead of going down to CT for the two jobs and staying, I have to come back up for a few days to deal with switching back the cars. My mom will cover for me down there and then continue on to the other job she’s got booked, and I’ll be the one going back and forth. My mom can’t be the one to come back up in the loaner because she doesn’t yet have a MA license and can’t drive it. I’m the only one on the paperwork, and it states clearly that I’m the only one allowed to drive the car. Originally, she was going to take me down, come back up, and, when she came down again for the job she had booked, which dovetailed the end of my job, we were going to hand off the car, I’d come back and then go down and retrieve her at the end of her job. It meant the cats wouldn’t be without one of us, I had uninterrupted work time, and I wouldn’t have to do all the driving, which gets tiring after awhile, especially with my back in bad shape. But that’s not to be. The cats still won’t be left alone, but I do all the driving.
That also changes my mental preparations, because I have to do additional trips, which mean a big chunk of time I counted on having to finish the book. The positive is that, by coming up here, I can print out whatever I work on (I don’t have printer access where I work). I can get past whatever physical adjustments I have to make for the trip, as long as I can prepare properly mentally.
It’ll be fine, but I’m disappointed that I don’t get an unbroken 11 days of writing time. I mean, I write well here, but on those two jobs in CT, I’d be really isolated fro 11 days.
If this had to happen, I’m glad it happened close to home, and not while we were driving to CT or, as we’d originally planned before my back got so bad, on the way somewhere to pick up patio furniture.
At least on a positive note, reading in bed last night, I came up with the opening line for the play due at the end of March, and scribbled it down, so I wouldn’t forget it. I’m hoping to start it in the short interim I have before finishing the book and doing a quick set of revisions before getting it out. I hate not having two months to let the book sit before revising it — it won’t be as strong if I go back into it too quickly — but that’s the time frame.
I’d really like to go back to bed, but I need to get it together and face the page.