Tag Archives: car

There’s Good News and Bad News…

Last night as I left a friend’s house, I got pulled over by a cop.  I have not been pulled over in years…come to think of it, neither has Mike.  We have a great track record, and as I pull to the side of the road, I’m totally annoyed that I’m the one who broke it.

“Hello, ma’am,” he says politely.  “Do you know how fast you were going?”

I hate when they ask this.  It’s a trick: answer honestly and you admit to breaking the law.  Lie and you look like a liar.

“Um, maybe 35 or 40, sir?” I reply.

“Well, in fact you were going 43, and this is a 35 zone.”

“Yikes,” I gulp, with the most pathetic look on my face.  “I’m so sorry, Officer.”  My father taught me to always address policemen as “officer.”  So far, it appears to be working.

“Where were you going in such a hurry?” he asks.

I don’t have time to think of something less embarrassing, so I tell him the truth.  “I was watching ‘The Bachelor’ at a friend’s house and now I’m just driving home….”

He fights a smile.  He has the kindest eyes I’ve seen on a police officer, and this gives me a ray of hope.  And I desperately need that ray of hope, because I know what’s coming next.

He walks back to his patrol car, and then two minutes later returns to my window. 

“Now, looking at just your speed, that’s about $150.  But did you know your tabs are also expired?” 

There it is.  I’m hosed.

“Actually,” I say to him, “just yesterday my husband noticed that and told me to change them.  I’m really sorry, Officer.”  This statement is one hundred percent true.  I bite my lip and look up at him.

He goes on, “And I can’t prove it, but there was a construction site about a quarter-mile before I pulled you over, so that would be another $150.  And the tabs would be $100.  Do you realize this is a $400 ticket?”

He says all of this, but has nothing in his hands.  Against all odds, I hear the tingling sound of victory bells three miles away.

“My goodness, I can’t believe that.  I’m so sorry, Officer.”  And I really am — I mean, who can claim to have their life together and be driving around on January 31 with tabs that expired in October?  Yes, October.

He smiles and hands me my license.  “Have a nice day.”

I am too shocked to speak.  I cannot even smile.  I look up at him and say “Thank you,” but it’s small and quiet because I am stunned into silence.

I didn’t get a ticket!  I thank God the entire way home for his divine mercy, because that’s the only explanation for that officer’s behavior.

I decide to tell Mike that I got one anyway, so that when I tell him I didn’t, he’ll be really excited.  This is a cruel game married people love to play.

I walk into our condo slouched over like Charlie Brown.  I don’t make eye contact.  I just say, “I got a ticket.”

“What?  No way!  How fast were you going?”

“43 in a 35.  But it’s the TABS!  The TABS make it $400!!” 

Now he remembers our little conversation yesterday, and he’s mad.  But right as I’m about to make his day by telling him it didn’t happen, he interrupts me.

“Do you want the good news or the bad news?”  he asks.

What is he talking about?  I’m supposed to be dropping all of the bad/good news…

“I got a ticket today, too!”

“????……#$@&…..@$#%…..$%&@……….$@&*……………..!!!!” 

I don’t actually cuss at him, but the dozens of explosives going off in my head at once won’t allow me to process a coherent response.

He apparently doesn’t notice that my jaw is on the floor and my eyes are three inches outside my head, and keeps talking.

“Man, am I relieved.  I’ve been dreading telling you all day, but now that we both did it, you can’t be mad!  This is awesome!”

His joyful glee needs to come to an end.  We are not in the same boat.  There is a crucial difference to our stories, and it’s time he knew what it was.

“AHA!  But I lied!  I did get pulled over, but I DIDN’T GET A TICKET.”

I thought of the most obnoxious dance possible and starting doing it with great enthusiasm.  In case you’re into details, it involved a lot of hip thrusts and pumping of arms.

I was dancing so violently I barely registered his expression of shock.  But being the ever-optimist that he is, it didn’t take long for his indignation to give way to his mental calculations. 

Suddenly he was ecstatic again.  “Do you realize what this means?!  It’s like our insurance will barely even go up at ALL!”

Mr. Sunshine has a point.  And I’m so grateful that I didn’t get nailed that I decide this is one of those moments in life that is most ironic, and we high-five.

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Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)

&$%*@# Renton!

I confirmed two things yesterday:

1.  My redheaded temper is still in top form.
2.  I have fully inherited my father, Warren’s, road rage (sorry, Pops!).

It all began innocently enough.  Mike and I agreed to house-sit in Kennydale (north of Renton), and so we drove there after work.  Correction: “we” didn’t drive there together.  Mike had to drop a friend at the airport first, so I suggested he go straight to Kennydale afterward.

That was my first mistake.

I didn’t do the math to realize that would leave me without a carpool buddy going south on I-405 at 4:45PM.  Was I delusional?  On bad drugs?  Had I just returned from the funny farm?

So there I sat in the parking lot of I-405, inching past Bellevue at a pace that would make a sloth bang his head against the wheel.

I’ll be the first to admit that about half the time I am in this scenario I take the carpool even though it is illegal.  My theory on this is that everyone wins:  I am flying down the freeway, and everyone in the slow lanes has one fewer car to sit behind.  See?  Winners!

But yesterday I didn’t have the cojones necessary for breaking the law, so I just sat in my slow lane.  I was mildly annoyed, but I wasn’t going insane about the traffic because at least I had AC, I told myself.

Then, about seven miles from my destination, my gas light turned on.  I am notorious for waiting until my gas light goes on before I get gas.  It aligns perfectly with my thriftiness; why spend money now when I can spend it later as my car forces me to?  To this day I’ve never run out.

I saw a Chevron sign on exit six, but decided to get off at my exit and then drive around until I found a station.  This was perfectly logical because my exit had an abundance of stores and marketplaces.  Surely there would be a gas station.

I got off at my exit and began driving through the town looking for a gas station.  I rounded the major mall area — nothing.  I headed straight into downtown — nothing.  I drove a little outside of town — nothing.  I felt the heat in my face start to rise as I went down what I like to call, “The Warren Trail of Logic.”  It goes as such: “Who would design a city off of a major interstate highway and not include a gas station within a five-mile radius?  What kind of idiots at the Shell Station looked at this city and said, ‘no, thanks, we’ll pass’?”

The trick about the Warren Trail of Logic is that it fills the user with such intellectual superiority that it becomes impossible not to be filled with an indignant rage at everyone else’s incompetency.

I couldn’t deny that none of this would normally bother me if it hadn’t taken me 40 minutes to go 15 miles.

At this point I decided someone else should be in misery with me.  You have one guess as to who received a phone call with an opening line like this:

“I need you to do WHATEVER it takes to find me a freaking gas station IN RENTON.”  Remember: Renton is the enemy.

Poor Mike scrambled to pull up a map on his phone, but alas, no signal.  Renton strikes again.

I looked at the gas light.  I looked at the stop light that hadn’t changed in three minutes.  I began mentally composing a scathing letter to the Renton city planners.

It occurred to me that I didn’t actually have anywhere to be, so why the anger?  But then I remembered the Warren Trail of Logic.  It shouldn’t matter that I am not on a schedule.  The gas station should still be there.

Mike advised me to cruise along the road parallel to the freeway, because that’s where most gas stations reside.  This sounded perfectly Logical, so I took his advice.

Except that I failed to remember:  if one is already employing the Trail of Logic and adds more logic to an illogical situation, disaster is sure to follow.

Or maybe just rage.  But usually disaster (see: Warren putting together falsely logical Christmas gifts).

There were no gas stations along the freeway.  Not for miles.  At this point it’s occurring to me how absurd it is that I don’t swear.  I really believe swearing is the most banal form of expression, but sitting in a car shouting “darn it” and “frickin'” just doesn’t have the same catharsis as…well, you know.

I decided for the sake of my blood pressure to concede, get back on the freeway and go back to the exit with the clearly marked Chevron sign.  But I didn’t go quietly (see previous paragraph, and use your imagination).

I called Mike to let him know his hysterical wife was still hysterical.  In the blur of road rage I managed to spit out, “I know it’s my fault for not filling it sooner, but HONESTLY this is AMERICA.  Where is the GAS?!”

I think I concluded by saying, “I just want to punch someone in the face and then drink myself to sleep!”  I told you that disaster was imminent.

To be fair, I didn’t find out I had cancer, I didn’t get in a fatal car accident, and I didn’t go blind.  In the scheme of things, this was not a bad day.  But FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY — ALL I WANTED WAS FUEL.

And thanks to the Warren Trail of Logic and a kind hubby, I got some.  Lesson learned.

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Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)

The Double-Edged Sword Known as Craigslist

Few people can argue with the victorious feeling of finding the exact item on Craigslist for which one was searching.

In my case it was a black bookshelf, six feet tall, with five adjustable shelves.  Bingo.

Oh and the irresistable price tag of $20.  Double bingo.

That is more or less the end of the fun of Craigslist:  you find the item.  You email the owner.  You wait in anticipation for them to say they haven’t already sold it. 

Then the work begins.

Where do you live?  Where should we meet?  How am I going to cart a six-foot-tall bookshelf back to my house? 

The seller of this bookcase gave me her address and said to arrive around 6:30PM.  I had plans at 7PM on the other side of town, but as any Craigslist crawler knows, if you snooze, you lose.  I confirmed that I’d be there at 6:30PM.

“Oh and just a FYI,” she noted, “I don’t actually live there anymore.  I have renters in this house.  They said they’ll put my bookshelf in the backyard and you can just pick it up.”

Um.  OK.

“Oh, and one more thing,” she said.  “Can you pay me via PayPal?  Like right after you pick it up?  Since I won’t be there?” 

Clearly this is an exercise in trust.  We both know I could pick it up and disappear without paying her.  I know I wouldn’t do that, but she doesn’t know I wouldn’t do that.  Craigslist transactions are full of this kind of blind faith. 

It occurs to me shortly after making these arrangements that a six-foot tall bookshelf may not fit in our SUV.  I loathe the idea of borrowing someone’s truck, or worse, going there in our SUV only to find it won’t fit and we have to return with someone’s truck.

Mike suggests we buy some twine so we can tie down the hatch if the shelf won’t fit inside, so I stop by Home Depot on my way home from work.  Who knew there were 15 different kinds of twine?  I am not a twine expert, but suddenly I am comparing rope widths, impact resistance, and cotton versus poly.  A phone call to Mike in the middle of the twine aisle solves my problem, and I leave with something called Heavy Duty Jute.

Four hours later, after work, Mike and I hop in the car headed for Leschi. 

Everybody in Seattle knows the tricky thing about the affluent Leschi area — it classifies as Leschi immediately after you cross over Martin Luther King Jr Way.  Before crossing over, however, the neighborhood is notoriously sketchy, a combination of First Hill, the International District, Denny Blaine and Garfield High.  So when someone says they live in Leschi, you’re never sure if they have a two million dollar home or bars on their crack-house windows.

Guess which side of the tracks my bookcase was on?

Technically, it was one block east of MLK Jr Way, which put it in wealthy Leschi.  That doesn’t stop Mike from second-guessing the legitimacy of the deal I’ve arranged.

“This is the house?  The orange one with the porch falling off the front?”  he asks me, incredulous.

“Yes, that’s the address,” I reply. 

“Seriously?” he answers.  “This whole situation looks like an invitation to get robbed.  Didn’t you say she doesn’t live here and she wants us to pick something up in the backyard behind a fence?  Seriously?”

After a bit of back and forth, Mike decides to go look in the backyard and see if there is actually a bookshelf to be had. 

There isn’t. 

He comes back to the car with the biggest I-told-you-so face he’s ever sported.  I immediately call the owner.

“Oh, it’s not?” she asks.  “Did you check on the deck?  I bet she put it on the deck.  Call me back if it’s not there.”

“Did you look on the deck?” I ask Mike.  He stares at me with a less-than-enthusiastic expression.

I put his wallet and cellphone in my purse so there is nothing of value in the car (oh wait, I see his brand new golf clubs in the back…best not to mention).  We both approach the fence and push the door to the side to reveal piles upon piles of garbage.  There are boxes everywhere, sacks of trash, an old couch, several discarded chairs…but no bookshelf. 

After wading through the garbage, we get to the backyard and look up at the deck; it’s on the third floor. 

“You have to be KIDDING me,” Mike says as he stares up the three flights of rickety wooden stairs.

We walk to the top of the deck where, both a blessing and a curse, we find the bookshelf.  It’s in fine condition and it’s exactly what I wanted, so as if I had found a mangy dog that needed a home, I daintily ask, “Can we keep it?” 

Mike rolls his eyes and tells me to grab one side of the shelf.  We hoist it up and begin the arduous climb down three flights of stairs — beginning with Mike almost falling through the first one because it was rotted.

We huff and puff our way to the car and I have to laugh at what I am willing to put us through for a $20 bookcase.  I have no doubt that my husband is silently cursing my thrifty ways.

The miracle of the situation is that it fits in the back of our SUV without any need for my Heavy Duty Jute twine.  Nevermind that we have to move my seat so far forward that if we have a collision the air bag will kill me.  I don’t care; I have my $20 bookcase.

I read plenty of design and Do-it-Yourself blogs where the authors tout their garage-sale/thrift store/Craigslist victories as though the money saved came without a real cost.  Nobody ever mentions the backyard transactions or three flights of stairs. 

Nobody until now, that is.

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Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)

C U Soon

I am not proud of this, but I have my DVR set to record only two shows.

Brace yourself.

One is The Real Housewives of New York (gasp!).

The other is Oprah (shudder).

For inexplicable reasons, I’m actually more embarrassed to be associated with Oprah.  The Real Housewives series is the most fantastic reality show on television, and allows me to indulge in my “mid-week uptown apartment/weekend Hampton’s beach house” fantasy.  Of course, the women are despicable and immature, but that only serves to stroke my moral superiority. 

See?  It’s the best show on television!

Oprah on the other hand, makes me feel like a stay-at-home mom who has never heard of real news and has no connection with the outside world other than through this billionaire talk show host.  If I’m ever watching Oprah and Mike comes home from work, I’m instantly inclined to change the channel out of sheer humiliation.  It’s as if he’s just caught me singing into my hairbrush in front of the bathroom mirror.

One could understand my dilemma recently when Oprah started a “No Phone Zone” campaign in an effort to get people to stop texting and driving.  Ask anyone (especially Mike) and they will say that texting and driving is one of my biggest issues.  It’s about the only thing that turns me into a total policing mother around my spouse, friends and family. 

Driving drunk and texting behind the wheel are the exact same thing to me.  Texting might even be worse because your eyes aren’t even on the road.

But now that Oprah has championed the agenda and called it her own, I don’t want to say two words about it.  It makes me feel like one of those sycophantic Oprah worshippers who blindly take on issues just because Ms. O said to.

I just realized that I am insulting Oprah-lovers.  I am sorry.  Just remember the line between love and hate is incredibly thin; look at me DVRing her every day.  Such a hypocrite.

One may wonder why I bother to record her when I have such loathful feelings toward her.  It’s simple: the celebrities.  No one gets the interviews Oprah gets.  Who did Reille Hunter sit down with in her home?  Who does Bono visit when he comes to the States?   Who does Julia Roberts tell the sex of her unborn babies to?

My point exactly.

Luckily, Oprah is not the only one taking up the texting battle.  A far more genius anti-texting advertising campaign in Seattle is run by none other than a funeral home.

This is on the back of metro buses all across the Seattle area and I have one thing to say:  YES.

I love the shamelessness, the offensive nature.

But I also love that it makes its point painfully clear — your life is at stake.  It is not worth it to text and drive.

Whew.  I feel a lot better having said that completely apart from any Oprah influence. 

But I’m still going to watch her show today.

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Filed under One WORD (Current Events)

Single Engine

Next month marks the one-year anniversary of an experiment Mike and I like to call “What would life be like with only one car?”  About nine months into our marriage, we did an assessment of expenses and realized we could save so much cash by just eliminating one car:  gas, insurance, maintenance.  So we put his 2000 Volvo on Craigslist and it sold a day later.

Gulp.  We thought surely it would take several rounds of postings and negotiations to find someone to buy it, so we’d have plenty of time to get used to the idea of being stranded with my darling 2007 Mazda 3 (I call her Ella).  Instead we had two buyers in a bidding war just a day after the ad posted (don’t get me wrong, bidding wars are good when you’re the benefactor).

The buyer drove away after assuring us he would give it a good home, with big fields for it to run around in and lots of children to play with; and with that, we were a single car family.

We had that panicked sellers-remorse almost immediately — what will we DO when we have alternate plans? we shrieked.  How are we supposed to go out to lunch separately at work?  People are going to think we’re NUTS.

And they did.  When we told people (and still to this day) that we only have one car, they looked at us like we didn’t have access to running water or electricity.  But how do you DO it?  they wonder.  It’s simple.

We live in Eastlake, in downtown Seattle.  Mike works in Bellevue, so he drops himself off at work with me beside him, and tra-la-la I hop in the driver’s seat and take myself to work in Redmond.  I have the car all day (this comes with the thrilling bonus of having to run all our errands at lunch since “I have the car”), and then I pick him up on my way home and we speed across 520 in the carpool lane.  Genius!

Or is it?  You can see how this can’t be working perfectly all the time.  Yes, we negotiate on who gets the car and who bums a ride with a friend when we have conflicting plans.  But what about when it’s REALLY not working?

When it’s really not working is when you see Abby standing alone in the Redmond Town Center mall waiting for Mike to finish his golf game.  Yes, people, golf is a five-hour game.  Hmm, what are my life-lines, Regis?  I could phone a friend, see a movie, shop til I drop…yawn.

But that’s half the point.  This one-car situation involves sacrifice.  It’s not always pretty (Mike: “where ARE you, I’ve been standing outside for 15 minutes!”) and we don’t always do it joyfully (cut to the conversation where we sound like brother and sister fighting over the car in high school) — but we do it.  We do it every day.  And little by little as our year has passed we’ve learned a lot about what we can make work.

Being a part of the Millennial generation comes with its own sense of entitlement.   We are babies of an economic boom era; life hasn’t been rough.  So when you’re a DINK riding the urban wave, you think you deserve to have the perfect board.

But that doesn’t mean you should.  At least, not in our case.

Once we had the gaping hole of missing a car, we could see that we had set our quality of life on how convenient we could make the day-to-day.  It’s unthinkable for most people I know to miss an event because of transportation issues.  For us, it’s not frequent, but it is a reality.  We see now how our situation forces us to communicate, to coordinate, and to give where we normally get.

It’s funny; for all of the annoyances and frustrations a single-car life can bring, it’s also pleasantly simple.  It’s one less thing to worry about.  And, as hammy as it sounds, when we eventually buy another car, I’ll miss that extra hour a day with Mike in this one.

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Filed under UpWORD (Beauty)