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6:36 a.m. - 2004-11-16

WELCOME TO MY LIFE


(The following is an absolutely true account of yesterday morning which means it's probably going to be boring as hell to most of you.)

PRELUDE: SATURDAY MORNING

While out running errands on Saturday morning, I noticed that the front right tire on the car was dangerously low.

Four years ago when I bought the four tires on the car, I opted for the "Roadside Hazard" guarantee which stated that if anything happened to these tires for the life of the car, they'd be replaced for free. Or for a small fee. Or for regular price. Sorry, but I have trouble remembering the intricasies of a tire warranty after four hours, let alone four years.

So we run up to the tire place to get the tire looked at and/or replaced.

Let it be known that there's maybe three mechanics in this world that I trust. The guys at the tire place put tires on cars for a living. They're NOT mechanics.

So we get there and the guy behind the counter says (quote) "I'll get someone right on it."

Then, my car sits in the parking lot for 45 minutes before anyone "gets right on it".

Trying to keep a four year-old entertained in a tire place is not easy, folks. We counted every goddamned tire in that place at least 20 times.

Finally ... ten minutes after they get the car from the lot into the shop, I'm told that I need TWO new tires and a tire rod and some bushings, whatever the hell those are.

$470.

I told them to put the tires on and I'd "think" about the rest.

Which is what they did. Except they didn't align the tires when they put them on because they said it'd be "useless" without the tire rod and bushings.

So we drive the car home like Ma and Pa Kettle headin' for the big city in their jalopy which is skirting all over the road.

MONDAY, 7 A.M.

Susie has decided that she can't drive the car like that so we take it back to the Tire Shop.

I follow her there in the mini-van so she can drop the car off and I can take her to work and then come home.

Because this is all I'm doing, I brush my teeth, put on an old sweatshirt, jeans and ball cap to cover my unruly hair.

I don't shower or shave or put on deodorant.

Drop the car off ... check.

Driving Susie to work, we get stuck in rush hour traffic.

Smoke starts coming out from under the hood of the mini van.

Squealing starts coming out.

I drop Susie off and we look under the hood and the squealing is coming from one of the belts.

Susie says to take it back to the tire place and see if they can change out a belt.

I do and they can.

8:15 A.M.
I tell the tire guy that I only have 30 MINUTES for him to change out the belt. He assures me they can change out a belt in 30 minutes.

TWENTY-FIVE MOTHERFUCKING MINUTES (8:40 AM)into my stay there and a guy walks into the waiting room and says "I think I've found your problem."

Long story short ... he says I've got a "busted radiator" and that if I drive it anywhere, I risk blowing a head gasket which is something even Donald Trump can't afford to have fixed.

Here's the situation.

I have to be at work at 10:30 a.m. I have to go home (a 15 minute drive), shower and get clothes ironed (30 minutes), drive back into town (a 15 minute drive) and arrive at work by 10:30.

I'm on track here.

Or at least ... I was.

So now, this game turns into time management.

Oh.

And $790 to replace the radiator, all the belts and pay for the mechanic's kids Christmas presents.

So now a dangerously flat tire has now turned into $1160 or so.

The one mechanic I trust in this town is about 20 miles away.

There are several parts of my car on the ground as the mechanic had removed them to get to the "problem".

I stood there, panicking, thinking "how the hell do I get to work ... which is a courier job? I NEED transportation."

A light bulb went off.

"You guys can fix the car but I need someone to drive me to the rental car place."

"Oh Uncle Bob ... you don't want THAT rental car place. You want to use OUR rental car place that we have an agreement with. One phone call and they'll be here in five minutes flat with your car!"

Fine. I'll take that. I can still get the car, drive home, shower, get dressed and be at work with plenty of time to spare.

8:50 AM

The call for the rental car is made and I'm told it'll be five minutes.

8:55 AM
No rental car.

9:00 AM
No rental car.

9:05 AM
No rental car. Start pacing menacingly around the waiting room of the tire place.

9:10 AM
No rental car. But now, an elderly gentleman who apparently hangs around the tire place and loves everyone there decides to engage me in conversation.

"You ever been to a class reunion?" he asks me.

"No," I said nastily while alternately staring out the window looking for anything that looked like a rental car and staring at my watch.

"Me neither," he says.

WHAT THE FIZZUCK?!?!?

What kind of fucking ice breaker is that?!? I could understand if he was about to tell me of his class reunion that took place on Saturday night or some other crazy old man shit but Jesus God ... what kinda shit was this?!?

He then starts telling me about Classmates.com and how he had recently signed up for the free version of it.

Again ... WHAT THE FUCK? Why should I even WANT to hear this crazy shit from a total stranger??

This guy could clearly not see my eyebrows meeting above the bridge of my nose in anger and the steam rising from my scalp.

I'M PISSED HERE, BUDDY! LEAVE ME ALONE!!

He starts babbling about running into an old high school classmate last year who had a boat and a hot young wife.

Usually, I try hard not to be rude to these types of people. They're harmless and they mean well ... they're just looking for some poor soul to wistfully reminisce about shit that the poor soul doesn't care about.

But I was clearly not in the mood to be some lonely guy's soundboard.

So I said "There's my rental car!", ran over to the front door, threw it open and realized it was just another customer with an exceptionally clean car.

9:15 AM

No rental car. Lonely guy has found someone else to talk to.

9:20 AM
This HUUUUUGE SUV pulls up in the parking lot.

"There's your ride," Tire Guy says.

"I didn't need anything THAT big," I say.

"That's not your car," Tire Guy laughs as everyone joins him in a chuckle. "He's just going to take you back to the rental place."

Oh.

Well fuck me running. I'm glad my ignorance of rental car procedures could provide you all with an early morning giggle, you LYING MISERABLE FUCKTARDS!

I get in the SUV and a guy that was so old he went to daycare with Jesus Christ is driving.

"It's a cold one this morning," he says.

"Yep," I grunted, checking my watch.

"I need to stop at a few places on the way back to the rental office," he says as he slowly puts the car into gear.

I thought I was going to strangle him.

"If you don't mind," I said through clenched teeth, "I am in a really big hurry and need to get to the rental car place first."

"Oh sure," Gramps said. "No problem."

THIRTY FUCKING SECONDS LATER we're at the rental car place.

It took him thirty minutes to make a thirty second drive to pick me up.

9:25 AM

I walk in the rental car place and there's eight people in line in front of me.

One employee is waiting on people while the rest of the employees are huddled around someone's computer, laughing hysterically at an MPEG of a monkey scratching his ass and falling out of a tree.

Finally one of the employees breaks away from the pack of hyenas to turn to all of us and ask "Who hasn't been helped?"

I couldn't help myself.

"None of us!" I blurted out.

I wasn't sure of the correct grammatical answer to the question ... should it have been "All of us"?? I still don't know.

So the first person in line gets to the counter and wants to bitch about the wrong mileage being written down when they rented the car.

9:30 AM

Still seven people in line.

If a miracle were to take place and one of the laughing hyenas were to throw me a set of keys and say "Take off, unkept man!" I would JUST BARELY make it to work on time for my second week of employment.

But, as the recent election results proved, miracles DON'T happen anymore. God threw up his hands long ago and said "Y'all fight it out amongst yourselves ... I'm outta here."

9:35 AM
One customer down ... six to go.

At this point, if I go home to shower and put on some presentable clothes, I'll be late for work. That doesn't sound like much, but with my job, timing is everything. I have to be at certain places at certain times or people get really pissed and it screws everything up.

9:40 AM

I was apparently wrong about the "miracles" thing because now every employee has had their morning laugh and are ready to take on the customers.

Meaning, I'm finally being waited on.

The woman asks if she can help me and I say that I need the smallest, cheapest car as "quickly as possible".

She asks for a major credit card.

I hand her my Visa Check Card.

She asks for a major credit card.

I point to her hand.

She informs me that this is a "check card" and not a "major credit card".

I told her that I no longer carry "major credit cards" because "major credit cards" left me in "major fucking debt".

("Fucking" was not used verbally ... I just needed to punch up the term "major debt")

She tells me that I cannot rent a car without a "major credit card".

There's a reason I've never bought a gun. Because if I had, I would have left a trail of snippy rental car employees behind in my reign of terror.

I had no choice but to be honest with the woman.

"Look. I left home this morning thinking I'd only be gone 30 minutes tops. That was almost three hours ago. I have to be at work in 15 minutes (LIE...it was actually 45 minutes) and I have to show up like THIS (pointing to my clothes and hat). Please. I am BEGGING you ... let's work on this together. PLEASE?!?"

"Do you have a check?"

"No," I sighed. "Just a check card."

She thought about it for what seemed an eternity.

"I'm going to have to get a manager involved," she said.

YES!! YES!! GET A MANAGER INVOLVED!! I IMPLORE YOU!! I DO NOT FEAR RENTAL CAR COMPANY MANAGERS!! I'M AT EASE WITH THEM!! RENTAL CAR COMPANY MANAGERS ARE MY FRIENDS!! GET A FUCKING MANAGER OVER HERE RIGHT FUCKING NOW YOU SNIPPY FUCKING HOLIER-THAN-THOU MINIMUM WAGE FUCKING EMPLOYEE!!

"Thank you," I said quietly.

The manager is called over to her terminal and he wants to shake hands with me.

Fuck shaking hands. I need a car.

I shook his hand anyway to show him that I wasn't hostile. Yet.

He said it was no problem using a check card and then took ten minutes to enter all the information into the computer.

"Okay, Mr. Bob, we've got you all set for a compact car. We just need to wait a few minutes for them to bring some to the lot from the airport and ..."

The airport is 30 minutes away, MINIMUM.

10:00 AM

"You don't have anything HERE?!?" I asked.

"We do, but not compact cars," he said.

This is the part where I almost cried.

I told him my story, but said that it was my "first day" on the job rather than my "second week".

I explained that through a comedy of errors, I now had to show up for my first day on the job looking like a bum with scurvy. I no longer had time to go home and shower because it took 30 minutes for a mechanic to look at my car, 30 minutes for their fucking driver to come pick me up when I could have walked to another rental place in two minutes, I had to wait in line here for almost 30 minutes because nobody had seen the monkey scratching his ass yet and now I had to wait another 30 minutes for a car to be driven from the airport to the other side of town for me.

I BEGGED him to help me out.

He found me a dirty mini-van that hadn't been cleaned out yet.

"I don't care," I said. "I don't mind dirt. Really. Just give me the keys."

Apparently, it's against the company's policy to rent out a dirty car.

BUT I had proved to be desperate enough to where the manager bent yet another rule for me. I got a dirty mini-van at a compact car price on a check card (not a "major credit card").

I jumped in the van and gunned it towards the office.

I showed up at the office at 10:25 a.m.

Five minutes early.

Still looking like a bum.

I explained to the boss what my morning had been like and even though all the company's couriers are supposed to look "business casual", he was going to make this one exception.

He was impressed that I had the foresight to rent a car to do the job rather than just calling out sick.

EPILOGUE
After spending $1,300+ dollars on both cars, I can't tell the difference in either car.

I drove home during my lunch hour, showered, shaved and put on fresh clothes.

Everyone's happy.

Except Andrew, who won't be having much of a Christmas this year.

Sorry, buddy.

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