Friday, August 27, 2010

The Anti-Day of Days

It's taken a lot of deep, cleansing breaths to get myself to the point where I feel able to write this post.

I don't know if you were ever like me, but when I was a kid, I would much rather have had my parents angry at me than disappointed in me. If they were angry, it was almost always something fleeting and minor: I left my empty cup on the coffee table for the umpteenth time; I had 2 zillion pairs of shoes scattered by the front door; My room was a disaster.

But disappointment was a much deeper feeling. Like I had shattered all their beliefs and images about who I was to the core of my being. Disappointment was reserved for transgressions of a deeper magnitude, like betrayals of trust.

And even now, as an adult, I would say that I dislike disappointment much more than I dislike anger. I get over anger quickly. It's a painful and immature process, but it's a much faster process than the one it takes for me to get over disappointment. For me, anger is a much more pro-active emotion. Disappointment, on the other hand, saps my energy and makes me lose faith with life and mankind.

And disappointment, my friends, is what I felt on The Day of Days, when D and I went to pick up my van from the dealership.

I know. The Day of Days was supposed to be exactly that - the day that trumps all days. Instead, it was a day of disappointment and second-guessing.

D and I went to go pick up the van and we were excited. We were talking about how much we would not miss the Sebring, even though we were in the Sebring and she could hear us. But it's nothing she hasn't heard before, since I usually cursed her out every morning for being so small and making L scream when I whacked his head on the door frame. Believe me, she knew how I felt about her.

I had taken the morning off work to do a ton of running around to get the details ironed out with the bank and the insurance company. I'd even taken the check up to the dealership and signed my half of the papers. All we needed to do was have D sign his half of the title, get the keys, and we'd be on our way.

Things went quickly, and before we knew it, we were cruising out of the dealership in our new wheels. I guess in retrospect, I could tell something was wrong as soon as I tried to accelerate to the speed limit. It was taking a really long time to accelerate, even longer than the Sebring (which is another reason I hated that car). But I was still in new-car honeymoon, and I vowed that I would not let it bother me. I did mention it to D, and he was like, "Dude, it's a van. What do you expect?"

Then, out of nowhere, the CD player spit out a CD. D and I looked at each other and were like, "Hey, there's a CD in here." D, of course immediately popped it back in to listen to what it was. It was some sort of mix between folk music and classic rock. Not my style. But D loved it.

I'd had enough of the CD, so I popped it out and turned on the radio. D was talking, and I thought I heard some sort of buzzing. I turned off the radio, but he kept right on talking and talking. Finally, I realized that he was not going to read my mind or my actions and realize that I was trying to locate the buzzing and that he needed to stop talking, so I shushed him rather rudely. The buzzing was coming from the CD player, and it sounded like it was working to eject a CD.

I realized with a slight sinking feeling that the CD player was not included on our 2-year extended warranty, and that we were going to have to either just deal with it or pay money to get the CD player fixed on a van we'd own for less than 3 minutes.

To top it all off, the shifter seemed to be really sticky and it was more difficult than it should have been to change gears.

Then we started to see smoke.

That's right, our new van with brand new brakes and tires was smoking from the left front tire. D saw the smoke before I did and he was like, "Um, is that us smoking?"

I looked and saw the smoke that was beginning to practically billow from the left front tire, and I freaked. But I was driving, so I had to try to maintain some semblance of self control. D was telling me to pull over, but of course we were sandwiched between the right lane and the left turn lane at a super-busy intersection during rush hour, so all I could do was put on my left turn signal and wait for someone to see that we were about to spontaneously combust and let us through to the gas station.

We ended up sitting there for a minute or so, which felt like a lifetime when we were worrying about catching on fire, and D started yelling, "PULL OVER! PULL OVER! PULL! OVER!" And I pretty much lost it and screamed back, "I'M TRYYYYYYYYYYYYYINNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!" And then he was quiet. And then we were both quiet, like you get when you yell at each other in front of friends and are embarrassed and no one knows what to say because you just unloaded a massive delivery of awkward to the situation. I think it was because we both knew that yelling at each other was going to be, at best, counter-productive.

So I finally managed to pull into the gas station and D got out to look at the smoke. Turns out, it was coming from the brakes. D and I started bickering over who was going to call the dealer. He didn't want to because he thinks he's awkward on the phone, and I didn't want to because I had no stinkin clue what was even going on because I know less about cars than I know about X-Men.

D ended up calling, and I sat in the front seat in disbelief. He started looking for some sort of tool that all vehicles are supposed to have (a tire jack? a flare? an orange cone?) and suddenly we hear the voice of an angel.

"Hey, bro? You alright? You need some help?" Behold, an off-duty mechanic from across the parking lot, come to rescue us.

He came over and got under the front end of the van, telling me to turn the wheel this way and that, and I did but I was afraid because he was under the tire and I didn't want to crush him somehow. And he told me to turn the van on, but it wouldn't go on because even though it said it was in park, it was actually 1/10 of the way in reverse because of the sticky gear shifter.

Eventually, he pronounced the van driveable, but told us we shouldn't go too far with it. Since we were already much closer to home than to the dealer, we drove to D's parent's house, since his dad was a mechanic for 30 years and knows as much about cars as I know about celebrity gossip.

D's dad checked it out, told us we were never again allowed to buy a car without him present (which really, did absolute wonders for my mood and attitude. Really.) and they called the dealer back.

At this point, the dealer was feeling incredibly bad. I mean, this guy is pretty much a friend of the family. We've bought so many cars from him that I can't remember the last car our family had that wasn't from him.

He told D that he was going to make it right, and sent a flatbed truck to pick up my new van that I'd owned for around 20 minutes. He also personally brought me another car to drive, and told us the van would be back to us by the next day. But I was really afraid when he showed up with the loaner car, because I was pretty sure my father-in-law was going to rip him a new one. (He didn't, thankfully.)

By the time all was said and done, I was exhausted. And deflated. And just plain old disappointed. I couldn't even muster the energy to be mad. I was so disappointed that D and I had talked and talked and planned and talked about what we'd do about getting a van, and it all seemed to be blowing up in our faces. We had not been overly-hasty in this decision. We had done our research and we knew what we were looking for. We'd checked the history of the van and it was pristine. And yet there we were, thousands of dollars poorer with nothing to show for it.

Needless to say, I was not very pleasant to be around that night. And when the dealer called the next evening to tell us that the van was ready, I didn't even go to pick it up. D and his dad went, because they wanted to make sure everything was right before taking it home again.

But now, I have my van. And I'm getting better, because it seems to be working properly. They fixed everything, including the CD player. (There was a coin in it, apparently. Awesome. Oh, and also, apparently the slow acceleration was something to do with the brakes, so that got fixed when they fixed the brakes.)

I'm still a little unsure about it, but I think it's because I'm being cautious. I don't want to be disappointed by this van again. It's already hurt me once. Not really starting out on the right foot.

But, I will say that I can't get enough of the power doors and power hatch. At least there's still those features. And we don't smack L's head on the door frame when we put him in or take him out, so he and his brain cells thank us.

Now if only I could get my radio pre-sets right, I think the van and I could be well on our way down the road to reconciliation.

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