When I first started writing this post on January 22, I was sitting in a Waffle House next to the Firestone in Montgomery, Alabama waiting to hear the new verdict on my persistent check engine light debacle. I hadn’t been into a Waffle House in …. ever. I always thought I had eaten at one of these incredible establishments sometime in my illustrious past, but I realize that no, I had not, in fact, ever partaken of this particular delicacy. I had made many jokes about it and reminisced about Waffle House experiences that I had not actually had, but when I realized I had evidently not ever eaten there, I was… floored. How can you live in the United States for even one day and not have gone to a Waffle House? What kind of US citizen AM I?
And if you’re going to go to a Waffle House, go to the one in Montgomery, AL on Madison Ave. Just make a quick detour from wherever you’re going and find your way there. Because those folks know how to make grits! And, they have the best jukebox! When I was originally writing this, I was listening to a feel-good classic “You Dropped the Bomb on Me”. Who would not, could not, love that?? And the bacon! Ohhhhhhh… the bacon. Somebody STOP me. The bottom line is, Waffle House roolz.
I digress. Now it is March 24, and I am in Arizona. I have much on which to update you. Finally I have had a chance to breathe a little bit and regroup, and think about what I want to write next. Of course since I’ve been here, instead of writing, I have spent time with several of my closest friends, hiked around many cactus plants, seen some of the most spectacular scenery known to man, been to an ostrich farm, was taken four-wheeling, enjoyed some AMAZING sugar cookies, ridden on a monster truck, danced shamelessly around a campsite, and spent one particularly delightful and relaxing evening on a boat. I have not, however, taken my car into the shop! It’s been a good few weeks.
So back to my tour in Montgomery, AL. I went back that way (through Selma! And people… it’s not a mecca.) after my sojourn in Texas because I wanted to see my beautiful friend from waaaaaaay back – elementary school. I grew up in Louisiana, and when my family forever departed that great state when I was sixteen, I sadly left behind many insane brilliant friends who helped shape the tyrannical lunatic amazing person that I became. Go on peeps, take your credits.
This particular friend, I hadn’t seen in… well, let’s say… some decades. I had moved around the country many times over the years (and apparently still am), as had she. To be so close for the first time in so many years was an opportunity I just couldn’t forgo. And, as I have previously mentioned will be discussed in a subsequent post, coming back that way from Texas gave me the chance to pass through my old hometown. That one is next. 😉
As we are all aware, my check engine light came on again while I was visiting in Louisiana. However, the car sounded good, and I wasn’t about to trust my Gorgeous to some Skoal stankin’ toofless inbred from the backwater bayous. Alabama here we come (because we all know Alabama is… er… better…)!
Scarily though, on the way to MAL, my car started crying a little bit. Then a LOT. What – was $1400 not enough for a spa day? Not only did the check engine light glare at me the entire time, it started blinking! And we all (or some of us, at least) know that this is the end of the world an even worse sign. And, it would chug a little bit on the inclines. AaaaaauuuuuaahhhhhhhhohGodohGodohGodohGodohGod just get me to #*$&(@! Alabama please. I swear I’ll go to church
stop swearing at least give some canned goods to the poor. Shoot, I could just throw them out the window as I pass through Selma! Just get me there!
And so I got there, praise Jebus. It was dark, the campground was again in the middle of… well… Alabama country… and there were no signs in the campground to indicate where my site was. Really? Yes, really. So I delightfully entertained everyone there by circling around several times and slowing down at every single site marker and shining my lights on them so I could see where I was. They loved me there.
Eventually I found my site. Beautiful!
And so I settled in. I met my friend Amy the next evening at a slammin’ BBQ place and of course had ribs. And of course I couldn’t eat them all because I had four glasses of wine in my belly taking up all the room. But it was a blissful evening of checking each other out to see how we’ve changed (if at all), slowly figuring out how much disgusting language we can bring into the conversation, and catching up on what we had missed over the years. Fantasmo!
The following day I bit the bullet and took the car in to my favorite place, Firestone. There, I could swear as much as I wanted to; peculiarly, they seemed almost used to it. Always my car repair shop of choice, and they have never failed me. And bonus: that’s where I met the Waffle House! I dropped Gorgeous off with a kiss goodbye, and ambled over to the Waffle House to dive into a pile of pancakes and the aforementioned ambrosial bacon.
About an hour later, Chad called me. Eeep – I was scared to answer the phone. He told me to come on over and we would discuss what was going on with my truck. Dread, and a little bile, rose up in my throat. I paid my outrageous $8 Waffle House bill and walked, toes dragging and head hanging, back to the Firestone.
There, a cutie cute mechanic named Levi explained to me in great detail how the machine shop that replaced my cylinder head only did “one side” (this meant nothing to me) and when they found out what I paid, every employee in the shop gawped at me. That always feels good. Essentially, I paid for a double-sided head job (no jokes, please) and got only one side done. Super! There’s nothing original about a female being ripped off by a mechanic, is there?
And to add insult to injury, the process of replacing the $1400 cylinder head caused all the engine liquids, etc. to flow down into the bottom of the engine and basically #*$& it up. My engine was toast. And, it was too big of a job for Firestone to handle, so I couldn’t even use them. I was in Montgomery, AL with a toast engine and my fave place couldn’t help me.
Or so I thought!
Turns out cute Levi had a friend who worked at a place nearby that he recommended to do my engine work. Yay! And guess where that place was? Right across the street! At the Goodyear there. AND – thank you Universe – they took Firestone cards (six months same as cash!). Dayum! Life was looking up (sort of).
So I packed up the car and trundled across the street to Don Duncan’s All American Auto and Tire (and Goodyear dealer!) where I met NATHAN (hi Nathan! I told you I’d make you famous!).
Now stud Nathan is a man to be reckoned with in the car fixin’ world (down ladies, he’s married). Never have I encountered a dude who loves cars so much. Now admittedly, I don’t exactly hang around carjackers, but this one stood out even so. When it became clear that my only choice was to have a new engine installed, his excitement was palpable:
“Oh my God it gives me chill bumps just thinkin’ about it”.
That’s a Southern fried chicken quote, people.
So after these boys spent several hours driving Gorgeous around and basically making her scream (no jokes, please), the diagnosis was… MURDER. Yes, the little Texas Mexican had killed my car and Dick van Dyke was falling down in his grave over the travesty of justice that it was.
I had spent my entire Thursday between Firestone and Goodyear, and the results were in: new engine required. Sigh. There was no way around it, even though Nathan tried really, really hard.
So, I decided to make the best of it. If I was going to empty my bank account into my car, why not fix ALL the shit that was wrong with it? I mean, why not? Hey, let’s fix the air conditioner that has been broken for two years! I was tired of sweating, and it might be important once I got to Arizona. How about that pesky ABS light that was on too? Good brakes are always wise. Anything else? Bashed in radiator? Sure. Loose bolt in the back window making a really annoying clacking noise? Hellz yeah. Sunroof that kept inexplicably opening up after the engine was shut off and I had long since walked away, draining my battery? Ooop no… that might cost another grand. Scratch that one.
We made a list, agreed on the cost, ordered the parts, and I set sail back to my campsite with the knowledge that I was now going to be broke for a while. Yay. We had made a date for Monday: on top of all this relentless positivity, I was due back at the appalling hour of 7am to get my baby prepared for open heart surgery and organ transplant. In addition, I was originally slated to move on to New Orleans on Sunday, so that plan was dashed. I spent part of the day while I was waiting at Goodyear frantically rearranging my reservations and making extensions. Sigh. At last I got back to the site, cracked open a bottle of wine, and looked forward to my weekend with Amy.
Saturday I was going over to her house to have dinner. Her lovely husband was going to slay cows and bring forth their meat for us to devour, and dammit I was going to enjoy it. I rolled my hooptie over there and prepared for an evening of hedonistic delight. The man made perfect slabs of steak for us and Amy made rice and veg and we all ate like pigs. Lots of delicious wine was drunk. It was absolutely divine. And then, just when things couldn’t get any better…..
…the yearbooks came out.
Whoaaaaa Nellie. Now the real fun began. Even though we didn’t go to the same high school, we did go to the same elementary school and we grew up with the same kids. There is nothing like going through yearbooks and screaming with critical laughter over the fate of people one knows.
“Oh my God, look at that hair! Look at those teeth! Oh heavens… look at the ZITS!!!”
And even better:
“Let’s get on Facebook and look at them NOW!!”
“Oh holy hell. Look how fat she got. She was such a bitch. Hahahahahaha….!”
You know you’ve done it. No shame here, folks.
We had a grand time. I love Amy, and I’m so grateful we were able to reconnect. Thank you Amy, and Darren, for sharing your happy and beautiful home with me. I had a blast!!
Needless to say, I spent that Sunday recovering. I had to get up at an unconscionable hour the next day, so it was imperative that I have a quiet day and an early evening before the next day’s festivities began. I set the alarm for oh God 6.30am, and made sure I went to bed at a decent hour.
Dawn broke. Stud Nathan texted me to let me know all was well and ready, and when I called him back he gleefully told me all the parts were in, that they had in fact come in Friday – whoo hoo! – and everyone was ready for surgery. I moved a few fuzzy bodies out of the way, crawled out of my warm bed, and got ready. I arrived at exactly at 7am.
Kindly the boys agreed to chauffeur me back to my campsite so I could continue working and doing my thing. Once again I tearfully handed over my keys, and Larry brought be back to my site in quite an astonishing pickup that I am heartbroken I forgot to take a picture of. I spent the day biting my nails down to the quick having lunch with Amy at a spectacular cafeteria style grocery store thing, catching up with some work, and various other mundane tasks.
And then later that day, Nathan called. My heart stopped.
“So hey Heather, how’s it going?” a little nervously
“Ohhhh God. What is wrong.” about to faint
“What what WHAT?!?!?!” panic
“Well, some other shit broke off while we were installing the new engine because it was so old and rusty, so we’re going to have to replace those parts too. It’ll be another $284, and it won’t be available until tomorrow.” he runs
It’s amazing how one can actually squeeze blood out of a turnip. We are all told that this is an impossible task, but somehow, it can happen. I am living proof of this phenomenon.
Tuesday arrived, and at exactly 2.01pm, I get this dreamy text:
“It’s ready!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :):):):):):):):):):):):):)”
Nathan is awesome. Finally finally finally finally FINALLY… the car was DONE.
So I asked if someone could pick me up, and yes! Steven could come get me.
We got to the garage with no mishaps, and I pulled out my purse. I opened my wallet and there was a massive flapping as all the different credit cards I would need to use to pay for this event came flouncing out. Here is my bill:
But it was over! I was so excited to get back into my car. Amy and I had plans for our last supper at Wintzell’s Oyster Bar, and I couldn’t WAIT. I wanted to eat well, drink abundantly, and crash out happily for my last night in Montgomery, AL before heading out to New Orleans the next day.
Yeah. That’s what I wanted.
Three blocks into my journey back to the campsite, just as I was belting out some serious Michael Jackson jams….
No I’m not kidding, folks.
I called up Nathan, and… well, let’s just say… I wasn’t very nice to him. 😉 He asked me to come back, and of course I got lost, but eventually made it back. They did some extensive testing, made a few adjustments, and then drove hard for about 30 miles just to make sure there was no chance of an error.
He came back, and whew! Light was off. And it appeared to be staying off. So I thanked him, got into my car again.
A block away:
OMG. We all had immediate strokes.
By then I was tired, and ready to crash the car into a streetlamp. I wanted my dinner and my drinks. I wanted my sleep. Alas… no! Since I was ready to strangle everyone in spite of all the strokes, it was decided that I would continue forth with my evening plans and be back at the shop at – gasp! – 8am. Would I ever be able to avoid daylight before 10am again??
No. However, I did have a stellar evening again with Amy stuffing our faces with seafood and wine, and I did fall into a dreamless sleep afterwards. There are always silver linings.
The next day I had to leave. I was scheduled to checkout at 3pm (thank God, normally checkouts are at noon) and I wasn’t changing all my plans again. I got to the shop at 8am, and by noon… yes, the check engine light was still on. In fact, it’s still on to this day. We all gave up and figured it would eventually sort itself out. But I couldn’t get away that easily: as Nathan was doing the final screaming driving test, we started this conversation:
Was I ever going to get out of there??? Well, I did indeed, with a beautiful tire balancing on top of everything. Thanks stud Nathan! But then a week later:
We decided to let ugly lights lie. And the ABS light did go out again. I didn’t tell Nathan it only went on when I was driving too far on the right side of the freeway road and my whole rolling chateau was bouncing over the rumble strip. 😉
I did, however, promise that once I got to Phoenix I would take the car into a Goodyear here and get it checked again. On Nathan! Ha! It’s in writing now Nate! The whole world can see!!! Except I have been here over a month now and I haven’t taken the car in. 😉 I will I will I will…..
But in everyone’s defense, the car has been running like a DREAM. Great gas mileage, for the first time in years I can’t actually hear the engine humming, and lemme tell ya, I haven’t exactly been taking it easy. I’ve been hauling the Beast up steep mountain grades at the speed of 50 miles an hour light, and considering before it was lucky to do the same at 25 miles an hour, I think we have made progress. So the check engine light can just GO TO HELL.
Ohhhhhhh… and I have air conditioning. Praise JEBUS. In this Arizona furnace, I am so blessed. Go Gorgeous! And thank you Don’s American Auto!
And that’s my story for this electrifying episode of Crazy Sexy Rving.
But what happened with the mechanic guy in Texas? Nothing yet. I think all of you should descend on him with pitchforks and torches. Want his address? But probably what will happen is I will send him a letter requesting half my money back (I know, I should get all of it back, but I want to be fair), and if he refuses, I shall viciously threaten a chargeback to my credit card on which I will get ALL my money back. What do you think?