a series of unfortunate events

December 29th, 2008

A Series Of Unfortunate Events

It all began with the ice storm.

This past week has been full of challenges.  Right now, I can only relay them and ponder the insanity of it all.  Tomorrow I’ll start trying to sort things out and figure out the extent of the financial fallout.  Because there still is some to come.  That whole living ahead of our paycheck thing is just going to have to wait.

The ice storm took out our power for several days and knocked a bunch of tree branches down.  I thought that might be the end of all the craziness, but I was wrong.  The ice storm happened Friday, and we closed up the house as best we could (mostly, emptied the pipes and turned off the water, and shut off anything we remembered being on) and after an unplanned boarding of our cats for the week, went to visit relatives.  As I said already, our car died on the way there.  We were about 200 miles from our destination, and the car wouldn’t start after we filled it with gas.  I swear that car knows we just paid it off and isn’t impressed.   We tried, and tried again, then we waited a little while and tried a few more times and I did finally get the thing to start.  So we arrived at my parents house without further incident.

My mom loaned us her car so we could visit my inlaws while my car was being checked out by a local mechanic.  My car, of course, behaved beautifully for them.  Started right up, no signs of problems under the hood, they took it for several extensive test drives throughout the day, and nothing.  They are friends of my dad so they did all this for free, which was very nice of them.  I went and picked up the car, and we drove it around the rest of the week with no incident.

Then we tried to come home to the midwest yesterday.  About 2 hours into that trip, the car stopped working while I was driving.  Just totally gave up in the middle of a highway.   I managed to pull over to the side, and the car would not restart.  I called the state police to get towed (we were on a state highway) and we were actually towed to somewhere open.  On a Sunday.  I was relieved, for that.

But the problem was, they couldn’t definitively figure out what was wrong with it.  I’m not going to try and poorly repeat the technical jargon here, but basically, it could be the computer malfunctioning, or it could just be the connections to the computer that were dirty and misfiring.  The car worked just fine for them.  They cleaned all the connections, took it on a test drive, and basically said I could try driving it, or I could get the computer replaced, which wouldn’t happen until at least tomorrow.  I debated, I thought, I pondered – and we decided to try and drive.

Big mistake.  Ten miles in, the car had had enough.  We got another tow to the same service station and there my car sits.

I rented a car, an Outback in fact, and packed up my spouse and my kids and left.  Well, almost.  I did do that, but first I went to pick up the Outback and they had locked the keys in the car while cleaning it and were waiting for a locksmith to open it.  Honestly, at that point, I just started laughing hysterically.  Of course.  Of course you did.  That was just how my day was.  But I did get the car a little bit later and went off to pick up my family.

In an interesting development, I could fit more stuff into my Saturn than I could the Outback, and had to leave some stuff behind in the trunk of the Saturn.  That car sits, broken, 600 miles away.  Hopefully it is actually the computer.  I guess.  I mean, I just want the thing fixed so I can get it back home so I can decide what to do with it.  This mystery ailment is not really exciting to me.  Especially with 600 miles between it and us.

I’ll call later today and find out what they say.  They weren’t sure how long it would take them to get the correct computer.  My spouse is going to bring the rental car back later this week, stay in a hotel or with relatives overnight (he has some relatives that are about 100 miles away from where it is) and then drive the fixed car home the next day.  When it’s fixed, of course.

I was really scared we’d come home to find some kind of lasting damage to the house from the power outage.  Other than having to dump everything in the fridge and freezer (sigh) so far, so good.  Except I’m typing this on my spouse’s computer because my computer monitor won’t acknowledge my computer is on.  When my spouse wakes up (we didn’t get in til almost 3am) I’ll hook up a different monitor and hope I’ve just killed another monitor and not the computer itself.

There’s always some fun afoot here, it seems.

Fun times here.   It isn’t all bleak – my family is safe.  We are home.  Everything else will sort itself out.  I’m just not really positive on the future of my debt eliminating right this second.  But that is for me to ponder more after some sleep.  Oh, and a call to some tree people to take care of the branches still broken in our tree.

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31 Responses to “A Series Of Unfortunate Events”

  1. Oh man, that sucks! I’m so sorry to hear about your car troubles. I hope it gets resolved soon!

  2. It might look bad at the moment but imagine how much worse this would be if it had happened before you made so much progress on debt elimination. Your capacity to respond to such contingencies is light years ahead of where it used to be. It might slow you down a little in your march to your goals but it only serves to underline the importance of your quest and the value of an emergency fund.

  3. WOW, I have been reading your blog quietly for awhile… but had to respond and just let you know that like the previous poster said… thank goodness that you are almost out of debt and have your finances in order…. I could see that we would BOMB had this happened to us…. Hopefully things get done quickly and you get the car that you now OWN back into your possession!

  4. Well, we may still bomb. Heh. I think I am still a bit in shock. Lots to figure out. :)
    My spouse did get the computer and monitor both working though just now! Yay! Apparently the power outage thing had made them unhappy but he was able to convince them to be friends again. :) So one less thing.

    Spouse is on his way to pick up the cats from the kennel, I am off looking up tree doctors. :)

  5. I’ve had the same thing happen with my paid-off vehicle – mine wouldn’t start in the summer when it was over 85 degrees! That’s tough when you live where it is HOT!.

    You do yourself a service to reflect on the positive outcomes of difficult circumstances. The opportunity for you is learning so that the next time difficult circumstances appear, you go through them with grace and composure.

    As long as you continue to make good financial decisions you will always be moving forward – even with one step back. Good luck with the entire package.

  6. I must write and tell you that you are not alone. I was also without power on Friday but only for 32 hours. Since that time it seems everything is breaking or has a problem.

    It took me two days to figure out how to set the correct time on the softener, it seems the basement drains were frozen or clogged so I can’t do laundry, my cable went out (totally unrelated to ice storm), my computer crashed and must be mailed in to be fixed, my two back tires needed replaced, my garage door opener has stopped working and my all-in-one printer will no longer power up.

    You are not alone – strangely I just find all this funny.

  7. Wow! I would be in shock too if all those things happened to me, especially over the holidays! It might not be pleasant right now but thirty years from now you’ll remember this holiday season and laugh at how everything conspired to bring you down, and remember just how strong you were to come through in one piece.

  8. You had one heck of a holiday! How awful that your car is broken down 600 miles from home, yeowch! I hope it all gets straightened out soon, glad your husband got the computer and monitor to talk again.

  9. Note to self…sell my Saturn ASAP. I will never purchase a GM automobile again.

  10. My mom believes that trouble comes in 3’s. I think you maxed out!

  11. Don’t you just hate technology sometimes? We have had a similar experience with our van. It kept dying on us and I took it in three different times and they couldn’t find a thing wrong with it. Then it would start acting up on the drive home. I swear that thing is alive….

  12. Life is what happens when you are making other plans….

    So sorry your car continues to be a lemon. I hope you get it, hubby and Christmas gifts home safely.

  13. I totally understand how awful it is to have a mystery problem with a car – last year it took us three months to figure out why the car kept bucking. (Thankfully we had a fantastic mechanic who took responsibility for not fixing it right the first time, and barely charged us anything.)

    Good luck. Keep smilin’. And remember how much worse it could have been had you not been in the financial position you are in now. Absorbing the blow might not be fun, but at least it’s possible.

  14. I’ve done that hysterical laugh myself a time or two. Just keep swimming!

  15. That sounds like one of our vacations.

    Hopefully they’re able to fix your car.

  16. OMG!!!! What a pain. Once, my two toddlers (at the time) and I got stranded in the middle of nowhere -no phone- with a flat tire. Thank goodness for a good Samaritan!
    I can only imagine being stuck in the middle of winter–yech!
    The stress level must have been astronomical for you and your family.
    Also, yeah: modern technology! If the computer goes, nothing works. Happened once to us =freaky! Hope your car is worth the repair costs.
    Any hope your car insurance will pay for anything (rental….)? Fingers crossed for a reasonable bill.
    Hope seeing your family was fun. This will make a good story to tell on future Christmases.

  17. Wow! It never rains but it pours…and, evidently, then it freezes!!!!!

    Well, it could’ve been worse: as you’ll recall, at the time you left town with broken branches hanging menacingly close to the house, we worried that one of them could have crashed down on the roof while you were gone.

    The cats could have croaked over at the kennel.

    Some clown could have plowed into your car when it died in the middle of the road.

    The electricity could’ve come back on before you got home, powering up the fridge and freezer so you had no clue and so got ptomaine poisoning from eating bad food.

    The ailing computer could have ingested a virus that caused the contents of your bank account to be transferred to Nigeria.

    {sigh} Hope this is Lady Karma’s last blast of 2008, and she’ll leave you in peace for 2009. Best of wishes in getting the car fixed and transported back home.

    Hm… Jinger used the term “lemon” in regards to that vehicle. You know, there is a federal lemon law…I don’t know how long it applies to a given car, but if the car isn’t too elderly, maybe you can get some redress from the dealer or manufacturer?

  18. Yikes! The end of December for you sounds like the end of November was for me – and we still haven’t gotten our car back :(

    I hope everything gets taken care of, and quickly, and that it doesn’t cost too much!

  19. Wow, that sucks. I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties.

  20. Thank goodness Christmas only comes once per year! Bad joke, I know.

    I’m sorry to hear about all these events that piled on at once. I know it seems like you were just starting to get ahead and have taken a major step backward, but imagine how it might have turned out had you not been improving your financial situation. This is a prime example of how your emergency fund works for you. You’re working on the right things, even if it may not seem like it.

  21. Hmm. You say the mechanics were not CERTAIN the computer was bad? I don’t know what year and model car you drive, but the sudden loss of power is NOT a classic symptom of a computer failure. When a computer quits, it quits. Connections to the computer can be intermittent. A critical sensor can go haywire. Electrical cables can come loose. But you never first suspect a computer; you suspect what powers the computer.

    Is this mechanic familiar with the make and model of car you drive? Does he have a good track record with this make? If not, SAVE THE OLD COMPUTER and get a second opinion. If you don’t, you may never know if the computer was ACTUALLY the problem or they blew the diagnosis and just told you the computer fixed it.

    That the problem does not occur all the time makes pinpointing the problem harder, but I am suspicious of anyone who says “We don’t know. It’s probably the computer!” As a trained mechanic working for a successful shop, that sets my BS meter off.

    If you have any questions (anything from defining jargon to translating the work order), maybe I can help you or put you in touch with a qualified technician. Just drop me a line: bracken46@yahoo.com.

  22. @ Chrysta – The car has been moved from the shop we dropped it off at to a Saturn dealer. The technician we worked with originally (because they were open on Sunday) isn’t working on the car now, the Saturn “experts” are.

    So theoretically the Saturn peeps would know what is wrong. The big problem (for us) is the car is 600 miles away from us right now. I’m tempted to leave the blasted thing there permanently. ;)

  23. Paidtwice, I hope things start looking up for you soon! I’ve had some terrible luck with cars, too. Fortunately, I’m now in a position that I no longer need one. I was laughing hysterically as the towtruck dragged old silver off to the auto recycling centre. I’m sure the driver thought I was nuts – and I guess I kind of was at the time.

  24. oh bless your heart! it’s so frustrating when stuff like that happens, especially when you’re trying to pay off debt! When we started our debt-free plan, we lost a transmission in 2 different vehicles in 1 week…talk about depressing! But now, on this side of things, it just serves to make the story all the richer! Many blessings to you!

  25. Has my Grandma always used to say “Better days are coming!” I hope they are soon for you.

  26. Well, sounded like you at least were able to get your house back in order; any luck with a tree doc? We’ve had a great experience locally, and call them back every few years to thin things out. A good resource to cultivate for future crises ;-) –kinda like the plumber and electrician.

  27. @ jay – no, not yet. all the recommended ones are booked up right now. the branch is pretty stable so I am waiting til we can get an opening. the ice storm here did TONS of damage in the area and many people are getting trees “fixed”. lol

    oh and the Saturn is supposedly fixed. Spouse going to fetch on Friday. Will believe it when I see it in my garage. lol. (bitter much? ;) )

  28. Well, at least you won’t be charged their “emergency visit” fees.
    Sorry about your ongoing Saturn-owner saga!

  29. How awful. But at least your family including the cats are fine.

  30. Wow , I thought I had it rough , well just remember after every dark night there is a brighter day !

    All the best to you ! You have a lot of good things in your life Like your family , cats & your BLOG!!

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