Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 19th Challenge

Hi, it’s Christina – 

Lord, I’m tired! Yesterday started at 4:00 am and I didn’t get to sleep until midnight. During that time, I did a lot of solo driving, had car issues, had phone issues, got the run around from Toyota, then was saved by Advanced Auto Parts.

I had my van on cruise control and, when going up a hill, it made some funny noise, felt like it was having problems finding a gear, the lights on the dashboard flashed, then a series of warning lights appeared on the dash. At that point I was hundreds of miles from home and in a bad cell area. In spite of the warning lights, the car seemed to be ok, so I continued toward my destination because, what alternative did I have? I finally managed to get a hold of my husband and he told me to try to find a place that would run a free diagnostic so I could determine the seriousness of the problem.

Considering I was out in the middle of nowhere, I had no I idea how I was going to accomplish what my husband asked me to do, but I agreed and told him I would call him back. I continue on my route and then, low and behold, when I reach a major town, there is a Toyota dealership, so I pull in. They tell me it will be $90 for them to run the diagnostic and I tell them I have the extended warranty. They said, if it turned out not being a covered item, they would still charge me the $90. I asked if I could call the warranty place first before I would authorize the work, and they told me “sure”.

This is where I started having the phone issues. I try to call and I get an error message on my phone saying “emergency calls only”. I assume it is a service area issue, so I change my location in the parking lot and try again. I manage to get a hold of someone in the roadside assistance area (the only phone number offered in the pack of warranty papers provided) and the lady was nice enough to find me the number I really needed to call. I attempt to call them and I get a voice recording from Verizon saying there was a fraud prevention block on my phone and I was not allowed to dial. Are you kidding me?

I text my husband with the phone number and information he needs to check and see if we are covered. The text goes through with no problem, so I try dialing again. The call goes through. I tell the man on the phone my problem and he tells me my plan only covers free tire rotations and oil changes. Seriously? Thank you very much, have a good day. ARGH!

I try calling my husband again, it doesn’t go through. I send him a text, he calls me back. I elect to continue with the car as is and he said he will get our local Toyota dealer in the horn and try to figure out what’s going on. (Incidentally, when my husband checked with our local Toyota dealer, he verified we have the platinum coverage, so basically other than body damage and light bulbs being replaced if they burn out, everything on my van is covered, bumper to bumper.)

I get a couple hundred yards down the road when I spot an Advanced Auto Parts store, so I pull in to see if they do the free diagnostic. They do. A sweet man named Paul comes out of the store, plugs the machine into my car, reads the report and resets the warning. He told me the timing must have slipped momentarily when the van tried to maintain cruise control speed while going up the hill. If the light comes on again, then I should take it to the dealer and have it checked, but it was probably just a computer glitch and I should be fine. It took him less than ten minutes and he did for free what Toyota wanted to charge me $90 for; yeah, Toyota is not high on my list of favorites at this point.

I thank Paul and continue on my way, one problem solved, one left to address. When I arrive at my destination (I’ll tell you where I went tomorrow), I attempt to handle my phone situation. After half an hour of automated hell and the ill-advised automated message from Verizon that I needed to call from a phone which wasn’t having the problem, I get a living, breathing human, a lovely lady named Elizabeth who initially hailed from Kenya and had one of the most beautiful voices I had ever heard. She looks over my account, tells me to turn my phone completely off, wait a minute and restart it. The problem was a computer glitch with the LG phones and it just needed to be reset.

Two computer glitches which turned what should have been a lovely trip, into a stressful mess. Have I mentioned how much I just love computers?

On a more positive note, I did accomplish what I had set out to do, and I also managed to capture a photo I had not been able to get on previous trips. On my first trip, I did a “I could not have possibly seen what I think I just saw.” Then on my second trip, I did a “OMG, I did see it.” Third trip, I forgot my camera. Fourth trip either it was not visible or I simply drove passed it. Well, I have proof this time. Take a look at what I found…not exactly indigenous to the area to say the least!


We have named her “Sally” like in the children’s song. Can you see why I did not initially believe my eyes? Sheep, goats, cows, horses, pigs and even alpacas are common sites on a farm, but a camel??? You have to admit though, she is kinda cute.

Today is going to be a LONG day. In a few hours we will be attending my nephew’s going away party. On Monday, he leaves for boot camp and won’t be home again until after the first of the year. It is going to be a day filled with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am incredibly proud of Kyle for wanting to serve our country. On the other hand, I am petrified he will be serving our country as a Marine when there is so much turmoil in the world. I guess all I can say is Semper Fi and God’s speed.

Oh well, off to make brownies for the party. I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy this beautiful fall day, and as always, happy writing!

Your Last Challenge was:

 You have a job interview, but you do not recognize the address they give you, so you plug it into your GPS. The directions the GPS give you, lead you to a strange area you never knew existed.


I sat in the car, tapping my fingers on the steering wheel, staring up at the building and debating whether or not I should proceed. My need for a paying job outweighed my trepidation, so I took a deep breath, grabbed my briefcase and exited the car.

My eyes danced furtively about trying to take in my surroundings, attempting to commit the scene to memory in case I needed to call upon my recollection in the future. The parking lot was occupied by four vehicles other than my own, two SUVs, two sedans, all newer models, all black with tinted windows; one with local plates, on with Maryland plates, two with Virginia plates. In my mind I made up anagrams so I could at least be able to provide partial plates if not the complete plate numbers.

I didn’t get as far as I wanted to. I guess it is going to take more than two cups of coffee to get me going today…
Your Next Challenge is:

It was so good to see him/her/them again…

You have 10 minutes (be honest). There is no right or wrong, just write. Spelling and punctuation don’t count and NO ONE is allowed to criticize what someone else has written. Go.