So, it’s 2pm on a Tuesday. I’m home, and sitting down to write a post on wordpress, and potentially, if I’m lucky, finally eat my breakfast.

And, for those of you who don’t find the above at all unusual: I’m a 9-5er. Actually, with my travel time, I’m a 7:30-6er. I think we now can clearly see that somewhere, somehow, my day has gone askew.

But, let me rewind a bit, so I can include the part of this story that is music related:

Flashback: About a week and a half ago.

I was considering what little present to self I could purchase with my tax refund. Now, I know most of that money has more important things to do: like go in a pot for a new couch, for example, since mine is about 20 yrs old and literally has lost most of it’s stuffing (and so you don’t think I’m exaggerating, there is tape on pretty much all of the corners of said couch, holding it together on self-sticking adhesive and a prayer), but I like to do something fun when I get “surprise” money, you know.

So, I thought maybe I’d look into a lefty U-bass. Sadly, the Hadean I wanted has long since been sold out and has yet to come back into stock. The Kala is about $500, which is a bit more than I would consider a casual splurge. But, in my browsing, I came across a good deal on a full size acoustic bass. The measurements seemed okay (at the time), so I went for it. There was a gouge on the back of the body, but that was cosmetic rather than functional and took a $600+ instrument down to $300 (including the hard case). I took a chance on it.

Fedex arrived at my door almost a week early. Which would have been amazing if I had been informed that a) it was signature on delivery and b) I knew when they were coming. Of course no one is home at 10 am on a Tuesday several days before your tracking says you’re going to arrive. I had to pay an extra five bucks to get them to deliver on Saturday since I am nowhere even remotely near a fedex location, but whatever. Five bucks is no big deal when I was getting a bargain.

I underestimated how tiny I am, apparently. I shouldn’t have. After all, I traded out my dreadnought for my hellcat because it was too big for my personal comfort, but I don’t know, I guess I figured, time had passed, and as long as the body wasn’t thick (which it did not appear to be), everything would work out fine.

Nope, and nope. At 5’4, I won’t deny that I’m considered short (the petites section disagrees, but I’m definitely on the low end of the average height scale). What I never quite realized was just how much of my height is in my legs. Putting the bass on my lap, the widest part of the body was just shy of my chin. I thought I could get used to it, but it’s cumbersome when your elbow is higher than your ear. So, I decided it would be better to eat 1/3 of the cost in shipping fees than eat the entire cost in an instrument that sits around collecting dust until I finally decide to try and sell it, and since it’s a lefty, getting frustrated at waiting forever to sell it due to the limited market, etc. No, better to just count my losses on this one and move on.

So, I packed it back up last night.

Now, back to today:

The day started fine. Gray, kind of dismal, but yesterday’s close to 3 inches of snow was completely gone by 6 am. Ah well, guess I’m going to work (because, you know, I love my job, clearly). So, I do my morning stuff, I pull the car in front of the house and spend five minutes with both back doors open getting this gigantic bass case inside. I figured out how to fit it in my little sedan, just barely. And by miracles only known to Chance, didn’t block my rear view at all. Go figure.

The plan was set: go to work, and on the way home, before hitting the gym, stop at the UPS store to pay my pound of flesh and ship the instrument back.

The best laid plans…

So, I’m driving along, everything’s gravy. And then, suddenly, I notice my hood is smoking -correction, steaming. I haven’t stalled out, but my thermostat says I’m definitely running hot. I pull off to the side and put on my hazards. Gotta let that car cool off!

As an aside: has anyone ever noticed how people always roll down their window to tell you you’re not in a safe spot on the side of the road? No shit, do you not see me popping the hood as little puffs of steam escape? Clearly, something is awry. And, for that matter, wth do you think you’re going to do with a school bus full of kids in tow? Though, thanks for your concern, I suppose. Even if it was kind of dumb, since you couldn’t do anything even if I did say I needed help.

Well, looking under the hood, yup, sure enough. That was absolutely coming off of the radiator. Nothing to do but give it a minute, let the traffic pass, and when there’s a lull bend off around the corner to find a parking lot to cool down in. (Reminder: with a bass in my back seat. This becomes important to the story later, as it will explain why I didn’t take certain actions immediately.)

So, done and done. I knew I was less than 5 minutes from a major highway, and that right on the corner there was a Wawa. Across the street, there was an abandoned fruit and veggie stand, where I could plunk my car out of harm’s way to chill for a while. So, I made it to the stand without overheating, but was still running too far on the hot side for comfort. If nothing else, I definitely had to be low on antifreeze, and I figured wawa might carry that, so I let the car chill and waited to walk across the highway and buy some.  I also knew the last time my radiator blew, my dad told me to put water into it, and I knew how to do that, but the internet and my mom (on the phone) are telling me that’s absolutely not the right thing to do. No way. No how. You can make matters way worse! Fucking hell. Who to believe in this situation? The guy who once made you do it on a 95 degree day? Or the woman saying it could destroy the engine? Or the internet that says ‘fuck if I know’. Goddammit. I decided to skip the water for fear of making matters worse. Sure, I’d done it once before, on instruction, but I also had to replace the radiator I did it to, so there just wasn’t enough consistent data to chance it. Antifreeze, though. I can definitely try antifreeze.

No dice. Wawa has motor oil, wiper fluid, and transmission fluid, but no coolant. Fuck my luck. So, now I am in an abandoned parking lot letting my car cool down, with nowhere immediate to buy antifreeze, but literally 3 miles from that darn UPS store, which is walking distance from a Walgreens that may, possibly, have antifreeze.

My dilemma is this: I can’t get the car towed to the mechanic because I can’t leave the bass in it at the mechanic, and I have no way to get home. I can’t get the car towed home, because then I’ll have to get it towed back to the mechanic. I am literally 5 minutes from a destination that could potentially solve all of my problems, if my car can stay chill enough to get there.

So, I decide to sit there. For a while. I wait it out a good half hour and go, ‘okay car, will you make it?’

Nope. After about a mile I see that thermostat inching a little hot, so pull off into a shopping center to cool it off before I do irreparable damage. Hey! Look! There’s a convenience store! Maybe I’m in luck!

Nope. And, on a side note, a convenience store that doesn’t open until 10 am on a weekday isn’t really very convenient.  So, I walk back to the car and decide to pop the hood again. I know the coolant tank should be clear plastic and near the radiator, maybe I can see if I’m low without touching anything (since, yeah, car cooling off again).

Nope. The tank is so indescribably covered in grease that it could be full to the brim and I wouldn’t be able to tell without opening it up.

By now, it’s started to rain. I got back in the car and let it cool again. I still have the same problem. I am now just shy of 2 miles from the UPS store, but I’m clearly not going to make it if I overheat in 1 mile, with absolutely nothing unnecessary running.

However, looking at google maps, there is an Auto Shop 1.1 miles away. They will DEFINITELY have antifreeze. I can probably make it a mile if I give the car a good 20 minutes of chill time.

So, that’s what I did. And yup, I’m low on coolant, do they want me to just add it, or run a test to see what’s wrong? Oh yeah, there’s a charge for that test.

…of course there is. At this point I know I’m at an automotive rapist. Hint, guys, if your mechanic charges you to check if anything’s wrong and not just to fix that wrong thing, odds are high that you’re getting fleeced. But, I don’t really have a choice, since I can’t get behind the wheel again and drive it anywhere until I at least know how bad the leak is. A slow leak? Put the antifreeze in it and I can get home. But if that leak is a waterfall, then I’m SOL and going to have to figure out a ride situation.

Well, the guy comes back and tells me that I need a radiator, water pump, 3 hoses, and he recommends I replace the thermostat (why? That thermostat just saved my engine! That thermostat is a fucking champ.).  I ask for him to give me an idea of the cost. I tell him ‘a ballpark idea. I know you can’t give me any sort of solid estimate off the top of your head. Just a general idea.’  He hedges a lot but eventually says ‘maybe $600. I would have to get you a price.’

Time to call mom. Mom and I have a sort of arrangement where, since her credit cards are lower interest than mine, generally big money repairs she will put on her card, and I will then pay her to pay down the card, rather than paying the higher interest rate. Since we have this deal, when it comes to expensive repairs, she’s the boss. She’s doing me a favor, so she gets to make that decision. Well, we discussed it a bit, me mentioning that this mechanic I’m at is not conveniently located and it will be tough for me to get a ride here (translate out of code: we don’t know this guy and he may or may not be full of shit.) Mom decides I should have it towed to the mechanic near her house. She trusts him. She doesn’t trust the one by my house, that I can walk to because my dad doesn’t trust him because my dad says he’s a ripoff (I’ve yet to be ripped off by him, so I’m not sold on that, but, again, she’s doing me a favor, and I’m not about to argue. Her mechanic is a pretty good one who they’ve been dealing with since I was a kid, just not really conveniently located for me.

So, I tell the shop that I’m going to call AAA and have it towed to a mechanic closer to my house on the grounds that ‘I need to be able to walk there if I’ve got to’. See how awesome my subtlety skills are? lol. So, I tell AAA that I need a tow, and they tell me “55 minutes or less.” Their ‘live update’ then tells me to expect a driver at 11:07. Awesome. That sucks. But it looks like they’re coming from a tow place I’m familiar with, just about 10 minutes from where I am, so maybe that huge gap is just backlog of other cars. Half an hour later, that’s changed to 11:31. Fuck. I’m going to be here a while. 11:31 comes and goes. I call again for an update. Their live update site is a joke; It hasn’t been updated since 10:17.  They get back and tell me that dispatch will be calling me again shortly to give me an update.  Dispatch calls me and says he’s on his way, coming from Keyport, so should arrive in about 15 minutes. That brings my ETA at this point to 12:10. If you haven’t done that math yet, that means I have been waiting for a tow for 2 hours now. 12:10 comes and goes. I give him a little leeway; it’s raining like a mofo. But come 12:20, I’m on the phone again. When I’m talking to the guy, telling him it’s the 2nd time I’m past my ETA and can he please give me an update, that’s when the tow guy finally shows up.

He proceeds to make me stand in the pouring rain for five minutes after addressing me, while he sits in the truck writing on his notepad (dude, I get it, you have to write things, and you don’t want to be out in this shit any more than I do, but can’t you stop two seconds to be like ‘give me your keys and get in the truck’? No. Fuck you. I didn’t choose tow truck driver as my occupation and didn’t sign up for this shit.

So, eventually he gets his slow ass out of the truck, tells me to get in it, and then gets out of the truck to get back in it and get his coat (okay, fine), while bitching that they don’t pay him enough for this crap, that AAA is making all the money and ‘where’s my money. I’m doing all the work while they sip bubbly.’  I highly doubt there are a bunch of AAA execs sitting around sipping champagne all day, but even if there are, honestly, I paid my dues, and I didn’t do it to listen to you bitch about your paycheck. I’ve been waiting over 2 hours because you can’t be bothered with the rain? Kiss. My. Soggy. Ass.

He proceeds to take the longest I’ve ever seen anyone take to get a car up on the bed. Ever. And guys, I drive an ’02 Elantra. My car has been towed a LOT, so I have a solid frame of reference.

The arrangement now (as I text while he takes forever) is for my mom’s friend to meet me at her mechanic, give me a ride to the UPS store, and drop me home. Sounds good. Very nice of you, Mom’s friend. Whatever. I’m in the truck. Soaking wet. My car is going to cost a fortune to repair. But, the worst is over. Or so I think, until the guy starts driving.

Holy. Shit.

I think my life flashed before my eyes a few times. He complained about a car in front of him for being…in front of him. Flailed his arms and almost cursed at a truck for backing out of a driveway. Then, ‘to hell with this’ (he’d been waiting a whopping 2.5 seconds) and turns to go down the side street. Wait wait wait! Dude, you are too far forward to make that turn! Doesn’t bother him in the slightest; he drives right over the curb.

Is this the day I’m going to die? And, for that matter, if he fucks up my car even worse with his shitty driving, I am going to be PISSED.

Well, we made it in one piece. And, as he’s parking my car at the mechanic, I hear the most horrific squeak, so have asked the mechanic to also check the rear brakes, even though two other mechanics recently told me they’re still in great shape. It’s in the shop anyway. Might as well get a third opinion to cater to neurosis when it’s convenient.

So, I tell the mechanic what the other mechanic told me, and he’s looking at me like ‘there’s no fucking way you need all that’, his eyes getting wider with each item I list as I give him the short version of the diatribe I’ve given you. “Probably just the water pump. He was probably trying to fleece you.” To which I answered, “which is why I’m here.”

So, I guess I won’t be going to the gym tonight, unless this epic rain lets up. It is technically walking distance, so I can go if the weather turns. Will have to wait and see. But, on the up side, the bass is on its way back.  Under the current circumstances, my idea to keep my eyes peeled for a bargain on a lefty ubass or possibly acoustic micro bass of some sort are going to be defunct for a while, and my new couch fund may be thwarted, but at least I’m home, dry, and warm, and for the moment, that’s really all I care about.

I did, however, add the PS3 version of rocksmith to my collection to overcome my USB shortage, since I found a good deal on a used copy recently, so it’s not like I’m not getting my bass on at all, which has to count for something.

Until Next Time, all I want to do for the rest of the afternoon is drink tea, pet cats and chill.  I know I had a vacation day I had to use by the end of the month but…this fiasco isn’t really what I had in mind.

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