Tuesday, January 26, 2010

B for Breakdown, BFF, and Bail Money

Yesterday was such a Monday. Well, the bad luck actually started Sunday night—an ominous warning of what was to come, apparently. I was following my normal Sunday evening routine of doing laundry and surfing the ‘net. I was in our bedroom putting a load of laundry away when Bug jumped up on the bed, which is nothing unusual as he and Wiggly sleep in our king sized bed with us. All of a sudden, I heard a noise I shouldn’t have; a “wet” noise. I turned around, and sure enough, Bug was peeing on the bed! I immediately yelled at him, which prompted him to run off the bed, finishing up his pee along the way. I yelled for Music Man to come take him outside, because even though he’d probably finished peeing (Bug, not Music Man), he needs to learn that outside is where pottying is done. I then began to strip the bed and prepare myself for a trip to the Laundromat to wash our comforter.

I stripped the bed, put new sheets on, and finished up putting away laundry. I heard Music Man and Bug come back inside, and Music Man saying, “You need to come here. I can’t chase you, buddy.” His voice was strained. I then heard him jumping/crawling up the stairs (Music Man, not Bug). Turns out Music Man slipped on some ice and hurt his foot pretty bad. Thankfully, when he let go of Bug’s leash in the process, Bug ran up to the front door of the house and not off into the neighborhood or into the street. (A Pug is no match for any sized motorized vehicle.)

I told Music Man to ice his foot and to take some Advil (After asking him if he thought he needed to go to Urgent Care, of course; I’m not heartless.), and I ran off to the Laundromat, hoping that they were open at 8 o’clock on a Sunday evening and that they would remain open for at least another hour. When I arrived, I saw that they would be open until 10, which was great. I dumped the comforters* into the commercial sized washing machine, thankful that such machines were available. These things were huge—two of me probably could’ve crawled in there with room, which is saying a lot because I’m not a small girl. I sat down to read a book as I waited the 35 minutes for the machine to finish.

(*Yes, plural. We actually had the backup comforter on our bed when Bug peed on it. On the evening I went to the ER a couple weekends back, Bug soaked himself and his kennel while we were gone. He is being a very stubborn potty trainer. Not wanting to deal with giving him a bath at 2 a.m., Music Man had cleaned him up with puppy wipes, which apparently didn’t do a good enough job because the little bugger reeked of pee, which in turn made our regular comforter reek of pee after Bug slept on it all night. We hadn’t yet made it to the Laundromat with the regular comforter, so this trip became a necessity.)

About an hour and a half and around $12 later, I headed home with freshly cleaned comforters. I checked email, went up to the bedroom to put the clean comforter on the bed and to fold the second to last load of laundry, went downstairs to take the last load of laundry out of the dryer, and headed to bed; thankful that the hectic evening was over and hoping that the pissy (no pun intended) end to the weekend indicated that a good week was ahead. Ah, wishful thinking…

When Music Man woke up Monday morning, he was in quite a bit of pain. His foot hurt so bad that he could barely stand on it, and it was quite swollen. The foolish man was going to just suck it up and go to work. I told him that he should go to Urgent Care, because he couldn’t drive to work with his right foot (the driving foot) the way it was. He insisted that he could drive with his left foot. (MEN!!!!) I told him to give me a bit of time to shower and get ready and that we would go to Urgent Care. He then said he’d drive himself to Urgent Care. I ignored him and jumped in the shower, figuring that he should know that we would be going to the clinic once I finished up. As I was finishing up with the shower, Music Man came into the bathroom, and the following exchange occurred:

Him: Well, I’m off to work. Have a good day. I love you.

Me (incredulous and not willing to beg the man to go to the frickin’ doctor): Whatever. I love you too. I think you’re stupid and I’m pissed, but I love you. (Passive aggressive? Me? Nooooooo.)

Him: WHY?!?

Me: Because you need to go have your foot looked at. You’re acting like an idiot. You can’t drive to work with your left foot, and you really want to try to tell me that you’re going to limp along all day like that?!?!

Him: FINE! I’ll go! I’ll see you later.

Me (downright angry at this point): I AM DRIVING YOU!!! YOU ARE NOT DRIVING ANYWHERE! *GLARE OF DOOM*

He heads downstairs to wait for me and to call into work.

Almost ready to go, I yell down: Call the clinic to see if x-rays are available this early. I’ll be ready soon.

Him: They are equipped to do x-rays there.

Me: Yes, I KNOW! They’re equipped to do CT scans too, but no one was available to do one or to read one a couple weekends ago, which is why we ended up going to the ER and I ended up paying two co-pays in one night.

I hear him on the phone and soon he tells me that the clinic has x-ray technicians available and ready. We kennel the dogs, and off we go. When we arrived at the clinic, I dropped Music Man off at the entrance to the building so that he could go inside and check in while I parked the car. On my way in, I phoned my boss to let him know I’d be to work a little late. About an hour later, Music Man walked out to the waiting room ready to go home. He had the good sense not to look smug as he told me the doctor said nothing was wrong; he probably just twisted his foot and there was probably internal bruising. Ice, pain reliever, and rest were the recommended treatment. As we walked to the car, I asked Music Man if he was at least happy to have gotten it checked out; to know definitively that there was nothing serious wrong. He said he was glad he’d gotten it checked out and thanked me for driving him.

On the way home, Music Man decided to work from home for the day, because he realized that it was a far walk from his car to his desk at work and that he didn’t feel like dealing with that with his foot in as much pain as it was. It was now my turn not to look smug or scream, “I TOLD YOU SO!”

I got really cold in the car on the way home; I hadn’t worn my jacket, because I had been warm enough in just a sweater, and I was regretting that decision. Even though the heat was on in the car, I was chilly. So, once we got to the house, Music Man hobbled inside and brought my jacket to the door for me. I put it on, got back in the car, and headed off to work. Even though I was on the freeway about two hours later than normal, traffic was still heavy due to the light snow and heavy winds the weather demons were raining down upon us. I finally arrived at work a little over two hours late. The work day itself was pretty uneventful. At a little after 5, I left for the day. This is where things really got really fun…

As I was heading out of downtown St. Paul, which is where I work, my car started acting funny. It wouldn’t accelerate or drive properly. It felt as though I’d hit an ice patch, and my tires would spin and spin suddenly grabbing dry ground and propelling me forward. The thing is the roads weren’t consistently that icy, so I realized something was going wrong with the car. Suddenly, whenever I would accelerate, the engine would rev and rev, but the car wouldn’t speed up. Then, the check engine light went on. GREAT! I drove on, trying to find somewhere to pull over. None of the downtown streets, lined with parking meters, would work as I do not parallel park (it’s something I’ve never been adept at doing, so I just avoid it at all costs), and I had a feeling I’d need to be somewhere where a tow truck might be able to easily access my vehicle. I slowly crept out of town—my car refusing to go anymore than 20 miles per hour at this point—and eventually pulled over in a parking lot right on the edge of downtown.

Growing up with a mechanic as a stepdad, I learned more than the average person about cars. In order to drive my own car once I got old enough, I had to easily identify all of the things under the hood. I’ll never forget the impromptu quiz my stepdad insisted upon as he popped the hood of my first car and pointed at different things, asking me what they were. He insisted that I know the basics, and I’m thankful for that. As a result, cars aren’t so scary to me. So, once I pulled into the parking lot, I put the car into park and pulled the car manual out of the glove box to look up the possible problems that would cause the engine light to go on.

I didn’t want to call the auto rescue service if I didn’t have to. And, while I didn’t think I could fix an engine issue all on my own, I thought perhaps there was something I could do to get the car running good enough to drive to the local Saturn dealership about ten or fifteen minutes away from where I was. The manual indicated that the problem could be a vapor lock caused by bad gas. I got out and undid the gas cap, and when I did it sounded as though I’d opened a two liter bottle of soda. This just had to be my problem, right? I left the gas cap off for a few minutes and left the car running. The book said that this should clear the problem, and that while the engine light probably wouldn’t go off for about a day, the car should run fine.

Thinking I had solved my problem, I put the car into gear and drove out of the parking lot. Things were fine for a couple minutes, but when I turned onto the main road that would take me to the freeway, the engine started revving again and the car once again wouldn’t go over 20 mph. My mind was racing a mile a minute as I tried to figure out somewhere safe to park and wait for a tow truck. I drove up about a block and turned on a street leading to a large condo development. I parked on the side of the road and tried to call Music Man. He didn’t answer his phone. Wonderful.

I then called the 1-800 number for the auto rescue service, which my mother-in-law pays for as a Christmas gift to us every year. It seriously one of the best Christmas gifts we get. (I love practical gifts.) We’ve probably used it at least once a year since she started doing this. I was very thankful, at the moment, to have the ability to simply call a number to get rescued. Unfortunately, I didn’t get through. The phone rang and rang and rang and eventually hung up on me. Lovely; this was just getting better and better.

I tried calling my husband once again; no dice. I cursed my luck as I tried the car service again. I’ve never kept a car for this long. My first Saturn was a lease that the dealership “bought back” from me early. Because I under drive my cars, the mileage was so low for the age of the car that they could turn around and sell it for a nice profit. This is my second Saturn, and I bought (well, financed) this one. I just paid it off last year, and I remember thinking about how this was the longest I’ve owned a car, and now that it’s paid off everything will start to go wrong with it (Murphy's Law, ya know?). That’s just the way my luck seems to work, and now, here I was.

The car service finally answered. I indicated that I needed my car towed to the Saturn dealership. The customer service rep tried to convince me to have it towed to a nearby Pep Boys, because, “They’re number one in customer support….blah, blah, blah.” I had heard about a class action lawsuit for my year and model—2004 Saturn Ion3—in regards to the variable transmission. Apparently, after about 5 years or so, the transmission just goes out. Just in case this was what was wrong, I wanted the car to be at the dealership.

After asking if my license plates were valid, the service rep put me on hold to find a tow service that would be able to come get me. As I was on hold, I realized that my plates technically weren’t valid because my tabs are expired. I just realized this weekend that my tabs are usually due in December and that I hadn’t gotten the notice in the mail at all. I’ve been driving around with expired tabs for weeks now!!!! Music Man got his notice in the mail recently, which is what prompted me to think of mine; he was going to go to the DMV sometime this week to buy our tabs since he gets off of work before the DMV closes and I do not. I wasn’t willing to admit this to the service, because I was afraid that they wouldn’t help me.

As I was on hold, Music Man finally tried calling me back. I didn’t answer, because I didn’t want to lose the car service and have to try to call them back again. Eventually, the customer service rep came back on the line and told me that he’d tried eight different providers and finally found one that could assist me. They estimated an hour and a half until they’d reach me. Fan-freakin’-tastic!

I dialed 411 on my phone to get the number for the Saturn dealership. I called the service department to see how late they were open and was told they’d be open until 9. I asked if I could have my car towed to them, and they said that I could but that they might not get a chance to look at it until the next morning. Perfect! (You know, a sarcasm font would be reeeally nice.)

I was happy at this point that my car still ran, meaning I had heat, and that I’d decided to grab my jacket on our trip back home this morning. I listened to the voicemail Music Man had left me: “Hi. I just saw that you tried calling. I hope everything’s okay. Call me back.” I tried calling him back, and I got no answer. I tried calling half a dozen more times as I wondered if any of the residents in the condo development were going to think my vehicle suspicious and call the police who would arrive and ticket me for my expired tabs. I was getting really worked up.

I couldn’t figure out why Music Man wasn’t calling me back; this wasn’t like him. On my final attempt at calling him (for a while anyway), I had visions that he had fallen again while taking the dogs out. (He is not graceful; this last fall was his second this winter.) I was sure that he was now lying on the side of our street while our dogs ran the neighborhood—hopefully not getting hit by cars. Yes, I’m a worrier. When he didn’t answer this final call, I left him the following message:

“This is your wife calling. I don’t know where in the hell you are, since you just tried calling me back a few minutes ago, and I don’t understand why you can’t answer your damn phone! Everything is NOT okay. I’m sitting here waiting for a F#$%ing TOW TRUCK to come and get me because I’m STRANDED. When you get this message, call me back; IF you can manage that!”

Yeah…I was getting angry—no; furious. Where in the hell was he?!??! I’m stranded and I can’t get a hold of my husband. I was there this morning when he needed me, even though he didn’t know he needed me, and now when I needed him he couldn’t manage to answer his phone. While cursing him, I texted my BFF, and for your enjoyment, that exchange follows below.

(Note: This is an approximation, since I deleted the actual text messages from my phone in order to get rid of what could be incriminating evidence in my upcoming trial, which you’ll see I was convinced was going to happen at this point. I’m just now realizing that that was a pretty lucid thought, so I wouldn’t have gotten off on temporary insanity, which is why it’s really good that it didn’t come to that. Oh, and just to defend myself a bit here: I am not proud of many of the things I said, and I am not proud of how angry I got. I love Music Man to pieces, and for the most part, we do not have many disagreements. It is, fortunately, not typical for me to get this upset with him.)

Me: My husband is a worthless idiot. I am stranded & waiting for a tow truck. He’s not answering his phone. I am going to kill him.

BFF: Oh no. Are you okay? Do you need me to come get you?

Me: I am fine. My car is not. I’m waiting for a tow truck to take me to the dealership. (I try calling my husband again. No answer.) Have bail money ready. I am going to kill him.

(I need to interject for a moment here. BFF and I have had a “bail money” agreement in place for forever. Whenever one of us is ready to go medieval on someone’s ass, we let the other one know to have the bail money ready. This serves a few purposes: (1) We know we can count on the other person for bail money in the event that one of us goes to jail, because, ya know, that’s what friends are for. (2) It sometimes serves to remind one that, perhaps, one’s anger is getting out of control. (3) We work together, and neither of us wants to go for an extended period of time without having our “work wife” there to keep us sane; this agreement helps ensure that one will return to work quickly if thrown into jail. And (4) that’s how we roll; we are hard core.)

BFF: How long is the tow truck going to take?

Me: About an hour and a half.

BFF: Do you want me to check Facebook?

Me: If you want to. I doubt he’s out there. I don’t know where he could be.

BFF: Status is nursing his foot with beer.

Me (nearly having a stroke): Then he should be answering his phone!

BFF: Maybe it was A LOT of beer! (This is why I love her; she can make me laugh even when I feel like ripping my husband's limbs off and beating him with them.)

I began envisioning how the media jackals would swarm after my arrest: “We first met Elle two years ago when her sister’s life was cut short by a tragic murder. In a shocking twist, Elle now faces charges of committing the very crime that robbed her of her beloved sister. Elle is being held in the county jail; homicide charges are pending.”

(Why, yes, I do have an overactive imagination, dear reader. Remember, I had nothing better to do than think as I sat in my car for over an hour listening to the radio, texting BFF, and trying to call Music Man.)

It was then that I came to my senses and realized that I quite obviously was not going to murder my husband. The reason I was furious is that I was scared. It wasn’t like Music Man to be this undependable, so in my mind, something bad had to have happened to him. It was then that I also remembered that, because of what happened to my sister, I hate when people joke about murdering someone, so it was especially bad that I had joked about it. I felt awful, and then I decided: Whatever. I'm human.

At this point, I tried calling my husband again. Again, there was no answer. I have been in my car for over an hour now, and I really have to pee. I decide to shut off my car, lock it up, and walk to the coffee shop that’s about half a mile down the road. When I get out of the car, I’m hit by a gust of wind and snow goes down the neck of my sweater. Now I have to pee worse, and I’m again very thankful that I rethought the coat thing this morning. I pull my hood tight, put on my gloves, and start walking. The coffee shop looks way farther away than I remembered, and the "shoeties" I wore to work are not really appropriate for walking about half a mile on an icy, snowy sidewalk, but I have to pee.

About two blocks away from the car, my phone rings. It is not my husband; it’s not his custom ring. I answer. The man on the other end of the line asks for Music Man, and I say, “Ummmm...this is his wife.” He says, “Oh, Sorry! I’m on the way to tow your car and just wanted a little more detail on where you are.” (Apparently the car service info is all in my husband’s name.) I tell the driver he can’t miss me. There’s only one way to turn onto the road I’m on off of the main road he’s coming down. Once he turns off onto the road leading into the condo development, my car is right there at the right side of the road. I turn around and head back to the car as we have this conversation.

I get in the car, start it up, and turn on my hazard lights to ensure that the driver will see me. My bladder is ready to burst, and I’m ready to cry. I’m exhausted, now have a headache, am worried about my husband, am wondering how much it’s going to cost to fix my car, and I have to pee. I’m also upset that I have to ride to the dealership in the tow truck, because it is my only option. These are the types of stories that end in, “and she was never heard from again,” I think as my overactive imagination once again takes off. I remember all that I learned during the criminal trial of my sister's murderer, and was glad that I had been texting BFF because that created some evidence. The investigators would at least be able to track the cell towers my signal pinged off of before I disappeared.

I look behind me, and I don’t see the tow truck yet. (Maybe I can make a run for it!) I try to exercise patience. Within a few minutes, I see the truck on the main road waiting to turn at the light; it is from a large, reputable towing company, which tells me I’ll be safe. My rescuer has arrived!!!!

After the driver maneuvers the truck into place, he hops out and approaches my car. He asks what’s wrong with it, and I tell him. He asks if I’m riding to the dealership with him, and I confirm that I am. He then says, “You can go ahead and hop in the truck. Just leave your keys in the car and I’ll get ‘er loaded.” He seems like a really nice guy. I climbed up into the ginormous truck and buckled my seat belt, leaving him to his work. Then, my phone rang; it was the ring. Music Man had gotten my message.

I pick up the phone and hiss, “Where in the HELL have you been?!?” (So much for feeling bad.) He said his phone had died and that he had figured that I’d just called earlier to let him know that I was running late. When I didn’t arrive home within almost an hour of my normal time, he realized that he should plug his phone into the charger and call me. He asked where I was, and I told him that I was sitting in the tow truck that had finally arrived. I told him to meet me at the Saturn dealership, because my car would most likely stay there overnight. My car loaded onto the flatbed, the tow truck guy and I headed off to the dealership.

BFF texted me: Do you need me to pick you up? I can put the kids in their pjs and load them into the car. (Have I mentioned that I love her? 'Cause I totally do.) I created more evidence texted back that I was in the tow truck and on the way to the dealership. I told her I'd finally talked to Music Man and he was meeting me there.

Did you know tow trucks don't have shocks?  Yeah, I didn't either, but apparently they don't. The ride to the dealership was the bumpiest ride of my life, and I really thought I was going to wet my pants. When we arrived, the tow driver told me to go ahead and head inside; he said he’d unload the car and drive it into the service bay. He told me to be very careful climbing down from the truck because the little steps get icy; he was a really nice guy. I walked into the dealership and over to the service area. The man on duty said, “Are you Elle?” They had apparently remembered that I’d called and realized that it was me based on the fact that my car was being driven off of a tow truck.

The service guys said it was a good sign that the car was driven off the truck. I told them that, if a car could consistently be driven at 20 mph, then it was. That not being the case, yes it’s nice that the car still runs, but there seems to be something very wrong with it. I told them what it had done before and after the check engine light went on, and the service guy said it sounded like a frozen throttle. The tow guy had run back to his truck to get paperwork for me to sign and had returned, just as Music Man walked in. Tow guy said, “Hey, did you know your tabs are expired?” I told him I had just noticed that the previous day and that I was going to go get the new ones tomorrow. He said that he just thought he’d let me know. (Did I mention he was a nice guy?!)

I signed the paperwork, thanked the guy profusely, and gave him a $20 tip. (I never know if I should tip in these situations or how much to tip. I figure a tip can’t hurt. He seemed quite pleased with it, so I must’ve done good.) The Saturn service guy hooked the computer diagnostic tool up to my car and said that the problem wasn’t what they’d thought it was. They said they’d have to keep the car overnight and look at it tomorrow. Super…could the evening get any better?!?

Music Man and I headed home in his car. Music Man suspected that the serpentine belt was the problem on my car, because when he last brought my car in for an oil change, they’d said the belt would need to be replaced soon. They had also indicated that I would know when it went, because the car would basically quit moving; the belt basically runs the whole engine. The belt itself costs $50-$100, but because the whole engine has to be removed to get at it, labor is a few hundred dollars. Lovely. Still, it would be cheaper than a new transmission. I really hoped that it ended up being just the belt.

We decided that Music Man would work at home again today (he’d already gotten permission from his boss to do so because of his foot), and that he’d give me a ride to work this morning so that he could go get our tabs later today. We ate a quick dinner of crappy fast food, watched a little TV, and I headed to bed exhausted. What a Monday!!!

As of January 27, there's been an update, which can be found here: U for Update

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  1. Whoa that was one epic bad day. Definitely calls for a bottle of bubbly. I pick one up when I've had a miserable time of it!

  2. and I thought MY Monday was bad, wow. DH and I have an agreement about bail, but it's that I will never bail him out of jail. I had enough of that with my XH :-)

  3. Yay, car hell.

    I feel for ya. Was in a similar situation myself last night.

    I love the tow truck guys ... everyone of them that I've ever had to deal with has been AWESOME!

  4. My parent's dog peed on my down comforter when he was a puppy. That sound of dog squatting on bed is so distinctive and horrible.

  5. Ho-ly SMOKES! That is insane. I sincerely hope that your days are getting better :) I love your bail money thing with your BFF :-D

    Stopping by from SITS

  6. Stopping by from SITS and because you stopped my blog as well.

    I am so glad that my monday wasn't as eventful as your was.

    I am sorry to hear about your sister. I can't even imagine the pain. I am going to follow you now!


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