Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Now I work in the ghetto

Last weekend the “Service Engine Soon” light came on in my car. I wasn’t too worried about it because my car hasn’t made any funny noises or had smoke pouring from its hood, so figured it was just something small. Today I decided to get the light cleared off and get the read out from the electronics in the car because (1) the light bothers me, I hate having it stare me in the face as if warning me of impending doom that perhaps one day on the highway it’ll blow up and I’ll lose control and die. I know this won’t happen but this is what I think because I am crazy and want to be prepared for the worst case scenario. (2) I want it cleared just in case something major does go wrong with my car and I need to know but then again I’d probably notice that without the light because then I would have a hole in my engine or a burn through the hood of my car and really I’ve heard those stupid lights just short out anyway and stay on forever so what’s the point? I mean would the light really come on if the tire on my car fell off? I digress…………..I look up the nearest Pep Boys to my work because that’s the only real auto store I’ve seen in this area but on the way there I spot a AutoZone. So I pull into the parking lot and ask if they can do the read out and the guy said they aren’t allowed to do it anymore. “WHAT?!?! Are you serious?” “Yeah, they were getting on our backs for doing it so now we’re not allowed to.” Who? Who was getting on your back? Your boss? Car dealerships? because that’s the device they use to lure you back in and spend 300% more than you need to on parts that don’t really need to be replaced. I ask the clerk if there was a mechanic close by that could clear the light for me. A girl at the counter sends me to a place around the corner and says they can help. I drive up the street and don’t see anything that resembles a car mechanic shop. I turn around and come back and spot the garage with only 2 car ports. I follow the “parking’ signs to around back and park my car. I walk through the office door and there is no one in sight. I yell, “Hello?” still nothing. I begin to wander through the office and find two guys in the lounge eating. “Do you work here?” “Yeah……do you have a problem with your car?” “Well yeah…….my service light is on and I want to get it cleared.” “Oh, well we’re eating right now………….so……..” WTH??? You’re telling me you’re going to turn away a potential customer because you’re stuffing your face full of burrito? Somehow that doesn’t really seem like a good business model. The guy stands up says something in Spanish to the guy standing in the garage and then asks me to pull my car up front. I pull it up front, open the door and this guy with slicked back hair and a cigarette asks for my keys. He turns the car on and then leans in to try and find the connection point under the dash. Mean while I’m watching as the smoke from his cig is wafting into my car. REALLY?!? This guy is actually going to continue to hold his cig while trying to service my car mean while polluting the air inside my cab where I will have to sit in afterwards and smell the stench of smoke? But it gets better he then actually puts the cig back in his mouth and smokes in my car while checking the device. I’m in such shock I’m not really sure what to do. Should I just grab the cig out of his hand and throw it on the ground and lecture him about the effects of 2nd smoke and lung cancer? I was also trying to remember the Spanish phrase for No Smoking, thinking if I yelled it at him he might get the idea. Luckily the device finished reading and so then he walks back to the work bench where stacks of books are shoved under the cart and he pulls out the one for my car. Apparently using modern technology isn’t a process they use at this garage. He locates the code in the book then takes it to the original guy I spoke with who apparently is the only one that speaks English and tells me it’s (1) of three things but none that would prevent me from driving. I just won’t pass my smog test. He tells me that in order to narrow it down he’d have to have the car for at least 2hrs and seeing that they were already put out about being interrupted during lunch I get back in my car and drive off only to realize the light is still on. GREAT! Now I have to find another dealership and go through the same process. Maybe this time I’ll go after the lunch hour so I won’t inconvenience anyone and post a No Smoking sign in my car window just in case they don’t realize it’s rude.

Today's nature lesson this cuttle fish frequently walks the street of San Fransisco. Last seen at a Lady Gaga tribute show wearing the bubble dress.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Being Neighborly

This morning I was getting into my car and I hear, “Um, excuse me,” coming from the kid that was across the street. “I know you don’t know me or anything, but could you give me a ride to school?” I give the kid a look over mentally noting that he doesn’t look like a hoodlum, dressed up nice, has a backpack, football helmet in hand, likely chance that he has a gun or knife on him………less than 0.0001% “See I have this football game tonight and I need to get to school.” “What…..did you wake up late?” “Well yeah…..” “Ok, get in.” He gets in the car buckles his belt and I tell him, “You know I’m not supposed to give rides to strangers.” “Oh, well my name is Russell.” I shake his hand and head out down our street. “Don’t you have a bike to ride?” “Well I do but I let my buddy borrow it. That wasn’t pretty smart of me.” I wanted to correct him and say, “you mean ‘very smart’” but resisted the urge. His school was less than ½ a mile from our houses. “See I have my gators on today and would have made it hard to walk.” I dropped him off at the street light close to the school. “Thank you very much, God bless.” I would guess he was about 14 or 15. Young kid but bigger than I am by a good couple inches. I thought it took some gumption to ask a stranger for a ride to school but I suppose I don’t look threatening. Little does he know I have a tarp, 2 bags of lye, a shovel and a hack saw in my trunk. His next position in life will go from “tight end” to “dead end”. Muaahahahahah…….too bad I hate the sight of blood.

Nature lesson for the day Pyjama Squid. Always dressed for relaxation.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Now i have you wondering.....

In my last post i mentioned locking my keys in my car and now you're wondering, "Wait i don't remember that story." And you're right i haven't posted that one but now i will. A couple weekends ago my friend Josie came to visit and the friday she came into town we met up with another friend at a lobster festival in Long Beach. We arrived earlier than the other party of people and decided to just wait in the parking lot in the car until the others showed up. It was kind of cold outside and we wanted to listen to the radio. We got the call from Martha that she was there waiting at the gate and so we got out of the car and headed to the festival. The festival itself was pretty small but we got an entire lobster dinner for $18 and i'm not talking just tail. This was a full blown lobster antennae, eyes, legs, everything. Josie and i struggled at first trying to decide where to even start or how to break the thing open and i wasn't really sure where the actual "meat" of the thing was. But we figured it out and soon had lobster juice running down our chins and fingers. And i think the over all consenses was that lobster isn't really that great of a meal. i think i rather prefer crab. After our meal we went to go see the band that Martha had wanted to hear and consequently the only reason we were there. the band was pretty good and Josie and i decided to compare the band members to celebraties. it started because Josie thought the bass player looked like a young Dan Aykroyd and i thought the drummer looked like a young Charlie Sheen only with a bigger head. The other guitarist we decided could have been Jackie Chan's nephew but could never quite place the lead singer. We walked around the couple of booths they had and i found that if you wanted african masks or bongos this was the place to get them. almost every booth there sold some sort of wood carving. Josie and i played the squirt gun game and she won a googly eyed blue lobster and that was about the extent of activities for the festival. we were walking back to the car and when i started looking for my keys i couldn't find them. i started frantically searching my purse but had a haunting feeling they were locked in the car and most likely in the ignition and when we got back to the car my fears were confirmed. and there it was the radio lights on still playing the Old School hits. so we converged amoung our little group seeing who had a lock smith covered under their insurance. i called my carrier, Martha called hers and another girl called AAA. mine covered up to $100, Martha's didn't cover other cars and another girl called AAA. Mine covered up to $100, Martha's didn't cover other cars and AAA dispatched an agent to come open the door. As we were waiting for help to arrive we tried to find a security guard or police officer that could help us. I asked a family that was walking by if they had a slim jim in their car and was answered by one guy, “I have a rock.” And then he tried to convince me that breaking my window and replacing it was cheaper than having a locksmith coming open it. but he was soon corrected by his friend that a locksmith is only $40 and replacing a window was more expensive. And then the family began to strongly discuss the best solution to the problem and the daughters were convinced that the slim jim was the jerky you buy in the store. Anyway they provided a bit of entertainment while we waited for the locksmith. I then flagged down some police officers on a couple of Segways (and in a totally unrelated note check out this totally ironic news story). They told us that officers were no longer able to help people with keys locked in cars due to legal ramifications. So there we waited in the cold misty night air in the middle of a parking lot at the end of a street in the Port O’Call. Martha did keep us entertained with demonstrations of what here ice dancing would have looked like had she actually participated in the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Utah. When we hit 30 min I called back my insurance company and asked what the status was of getting a local company dispatched, “Oh, we already called one and they said their ETA was 45min.” “Ok, well why didn’t you call me back and tell me this?” “Oh, we only call the customer back if the cost will be over $100.” “But then how I’m I supposed to know that there is a person on the way?” “Um……” Yeah, I buy cheap insurance. The other girl called AAA back and they said that there was someone on the way but they were lost. Another 15 min later we finally see the AAA tow truck. He pulls up to the car, “Are you here to unlock my door?” “Um, what? I was dispatched for flat tire. I don’t have the stuff to unlock a door.” WTH?!?!? Are you SERIOUS!!! I can’t believe this. Then I get a call from the guy that was dispatched from my insurance, “Where are you located?” “At Port o’ call in the middle of a parking lot.” “Do you have an address you can give me?” “Not really, I’m in the middle of a parking lot.” “Well I’m not from this area. There’s no address you can give me?” I then try to explain the directions the best I can from memory and eventually this beat up white small cab pickup pulls up and opens the door. It was past 11pm at this point and we were cold and tired and had about an hour drive back to Martha’s. I really need to purchase an extra key to my car and keep it in my wallet. Then next time I won’t have to stand there in a freezing parking lot with my fingers smelling like a bad sea food buffet.