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The 180* Day

It was not a happy first day of Spring!

If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you may have seen some tweets that I started having car issues last week (well, really, starting back in January). Some back story, I start having stalling issues mid-January. I take my car to my garage for them to look it over and inspect it. This visit finds that I need my PVC valve/hose (or something like this) has disintegrated. The garage owner calls to give me this good news and also shares that my car will pass inspection with new front brake pads. $400 later, I can pick up my car the next day.

I get to drive my car for barely 24 hours before the next Car Incident of 2013. Wednesday evenings I have to pick up my daughter and her friend from a church program. On our way home, I stop at a yellow light and am rear-ended, pretty hard. We’re all a little shaken up but no major injuries to us. My car, however, doesn’t look so great. After talking with my insurance company, I call Mr. Rear-Ender’s insurance company to report the accident. [I don’t want this accident on MY clean driving record, nor do I want to shell out a $500 deductible.]  It takes a week for me to finally get an appointment for his company’s adjuster to evaluate my car. By this time, we’re at the end of January, but my car is finally approved for repair at the collision center and I am given a rental to drive.

Mid-February, I hear from the collision center that my car probably won’t be done until near the end of February. However, I have plans to leave town for my The Rock Boat vacation. The insurance adjuster assures me that the rental will be covered while I’m gone and that I can check in with the collision center upon my return.

Moving forward to March. I’m finally back in my own car. I’m still a little anxious when I see someone’s hood so close in my rear view mirror. Then the weird thing starts happening. The car seems to run fine when I’m driving, but once I pull into a parking spot and/or my garage, the car stalls. So back to the garage we go!

This is where the fun starts. I make arrangements to take my car back to the garage on Wednesday (this week). This involves dropping the car at the garage and then walking a mile (uphill, both ways, in bare feet, in 2 feet of snow, get off my lawn) to get to the trolley stop (keep in mind the morning temps are <32*). As I am walking to the tracks, a trolley is there. The lovely driver actually waits, waves me to cross, AND opens the door so I can get on her train. Now that I have purchased a replacement battery for my phone, I was able to listen to the awesome new Justin Timberlake CD, play five rounds of Candy Crush, and scroll my twitter and facebook timelines and still have battery life!

Wednesday is also Daffodil Day, and one of our department physicians always buys us a bouquet of daffodils. Flowers = Sweet! Said doctor mentions that his wife forgot to pack his lunch for the day. I offer that I am considering a walk to Chipotle to pick up my lunch, would he like something? He thinks that is a great idea and offers to buy my lunch. Chipotle + Free Lunch = Sweet #2! Finally, after 3 PM, the garage calls. He’s looked over my car and there’s nothing wrong with it. He says that since the battery was disconnected, the car needs to ‘relearn’ the proper idle rate. The car is ready for pick up AND there’s no charge for the visit. No problems + No charge = Sweet #3!!! As stressed as I am about finances this month, I almost burst into tears at the good news!

And then … the universe spins!

I have to catch a bus into Downtown to catch the trolley. When two buses show up, I usually hop on the second bus as everyone usually rushes the first one. I saw that the second bus started with a 7 — and that’s all I saw. It wasn’t until a few blocks later when we were in the opposite lane than we should have been in that I noticed that I was on the WRONG bus. Wrong bus = Blerg! Ok, so I’ll get off at the next stop across the bridge and do so. I start walking and checking google maps to see if there will be a bus going by in the near future. The next bus isn’t until 4:53 (and it’s 4:30), so I decide to walk from one end of Carson Street (at the Birmingham Bridge) to Station Square (a good 1.65 mile hike. Yes, I tracked it!)

Once I arrive at Station Square, I only have a wait a few minutes for a Blue Line trolley. I’m actually able to get a seat thanks to a nice young gentleman who decided to stand instead of sit. I grab the seat, I’m plugged in listening to Justin, playing Candy Crush, and reading my timelines. I don’t notice anything different about this trolley until the stop where it announces that it does not serve Library (which I need) but goes to South Hills Village (not what I need). Wrong trolley = Blerg #2! I quickly hop off as the doors are closing and have to wait five minutes for the right trolley. A few minutes later, I’m at my trolley stop and ready to hike the mile back to the garage (uphill, both ways, in bare feet, in 2 feet of snow, get off my lawn). I hop in my car and drive home (and stop for a fast food dinner) with no incidents!

And then, the highlight of my evening. Vampire Boy mentions that he needs poster board for a school project that is due on Friday. I have to pick up Social Diva from her church program at 8, so we plan to leave the house early enough to stop at Dollar General on our way. We come out of Dollar General, I turn the key, and all I hear is click, click, click, click. WTF?!!? Dead battery = Blerg #3!!!

So there’s a novel (thank for hanging in there) on how my day started out with sunshine and daisies, and then turned into clouds and snowflakes!

PS: I had to call Social Diva’s dad to pick her up at the church, and finally used my AAA membership to come help me. AAA sent a truck to check my battery, jump it, and then sell me a new one (which I’m sure I could have gotten cheaper at Advance Auto myself).

A Woman’s Rule of Thumb …

Friday night I’ve promised to attend the burlesque debut of @BeingCharlee. Flawed Memory is also supposed to go. He offers for the two of us to ride together since parking will be limited. The plan is for me to drop my daughter off at her pool birthday party, and he’ll pick me up at 8:30.

At 8:30, my phone rings. FM’s car won’t start. So I offer to go pick him up and drive us to the show. This should be easy, right?

As I’m driving out the Parkway, I get this feeling that this Friday the 13th isn’t going to end well. FM’s car won’t start. Social Diva is at a pool party. I’m going out on a Friday (i.e., “Mom”) night (which is rare for me). I try to shake off the feeling as I reach my exit.

And then it happens. As I’m driving through the empty section of parking lot, I don’t see the concrete section/curb jutting out until it’s too late. I wasn’t playing with my phone, but I was searching the parking lot for the broken down car. The grassy area didn’t have a light pole or tree (which was pointed out to me later). I swerved at the last minute, but my front passenger side tire hits and goes up over the curb. Thinking I had damaged my front bumper, I immediately pull over into a parking spot to check for damage and find an immediately flat tire. [I had just purchased these new tires one month ago and DIDN’T get the road hazard!]  FM helps change my tire and guess what? The spare has barely any air! Not only am I ready to burst into tears, I’m ready to scrap my plans for the night. Since we both said we were coming to the debut, he reassures  me that everything will be ok and we head back into town. Fortunately, the spare holds the air while we were at the venue and throughout the night.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. I have to drive Vampire Boy to work. The plan is then to take FM to try to start his car which we were able to do by “popping the clutch.” We head to Wal Mart so I can check into whether my tire is salvageable (it wasn’t) and whether they can look at his car (they couldn’t).  There goes $100 I didn’t need to spend to replace the tire.

This wasn’t how I planned on spending the weekend before returning to work after my staycation!

A woman’s rule of thumb: If it has tires or testicles, you’re going to have trouble with it!

Oh, the irony!

Times are tough. Everyone is re-evaluating their budget and looking for ways to cut back. I have been fortunate to be blessed with two healthy children who picked up all their “kiddy krud” during their day care years. Once they started regular school, their immune systems were pretty tough and fought off most of the viruses circulating the school grounds.

Having the reliable-with-good-benefits job of my marriage and divorce, I have always carried the health insurance that has been (knock on wood) rarely used for more than healthy child visits. During open enrollment last November, rather than quickly electing the higher paycheck withdrawal of the HMO benefit, I did extensive research on lowering my payroll deductions. You say I can save $80 a month by choosing this PPO coverage? I have the same coverage as before but I now contribute 20% towards the charge? Sign me up!

For the past three years, I also had a medical flexible spending account to cover out of pocket expenses. The laws changed effective 1/1/11 and you could no longer purchase over the counter items with this fund. Also, the “administrator” of this program had changed in 2009 and was now requesting receipts for everything (three month’s later no less!). Given these changes, I elected (and now regret) to not contribute to a medical FSA.

Nine months since this new health insurance has gone into effect, I’ve had my son at the pediatrician twice. The first visit was for hemorrhaging nosebleeds that were occurring with an alarming frequency and flow. Of course, there’s a co-pay for the office visit and then the recommended blood work. Today’s visit was the result of his complaints of chest pain and trouble breathing. There’s another office visit co-pay. Let’s throw in a script for more blood work to rule out mono and liver problems and a script for a chest x-ray. Lucky us!

Granted, the co-pays and 20% responsibility charges are not much as an individual charge, but add these expenses to my already-strained budget, and I’m feeling the stress. Let’s hope “Mr. Large” from the UK (who has picked me to share his wealth with) comes through with his donation of $500,000. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath.

Moral of the story: I am truly thankful to have healthy children. If you have access to better health insurance coverage, don’t be like me and try to cut corners. Sign up for the best coverage possible or be smart and contribute to a flexible spending account to cover these unplanned expenses.

Thanks to @ThePGHA for the song reference giving me this blog idea.

[Addendum:  This post is just a venue for me to gripe about my poor planning. Given the tragedies in the world today (hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and the 911 anniversary), my complaints are trivial.]