Monday, January 10, 2011

Epic Journeys...Not Just for Greek Sagas

The spring semester has begun with a bang. I waited until my very last day of freedom to make the trek back to school, and managed to turn a three hour drive into a twelve hour trainwreck of epic proportions. I was just over an hour into the trip when I pulled over to try to figure out why my battery was losing charge. I had just had a new alternator and new batteries put on because it was giving me trouble, so I was hoping for a loose wire. No such luck.

I got into a gas station in a small town and stopped to see if there might be a parts store open where I could get another new alternator, figuring the one I'd just gotten must be bad. Of course, in a small town on a Sunday afternoon, no parts stores are open.

Plan B...I got on the phone and called a parts store in the larger town I'd come from. They were open, and had an alternator in stock, but they couldn't take payment over the phone. The advised me to go through their website to make the payment, and then I could have someone pick it up at the store. Luckily my phone has web capabilities, so I fought with their semi-functional website for about 45 minutes, trying unsucessfully to pay for my alternator. Finally I called a friend and had her try it on her computer with my information. Still, no good.

Plan C...I had another friend in the town I'd come from go buy the alternator and I would pay him back when he brought it to me. I'm not sure why my friends answer my phone calls anymore. He arrived on the scene with the parts in hand. We pulled the old alternator off, put the new one one, and discovered that the new alternator had a smaller pulley. Being the resourceful types we are, we managed to trim the fan belt down so that it would work. Not an ideal solution, but you work with what you have. We hooked up the jumper cables, charged my truck for a while, and it started right up...and ran until we took the jumper cables off. Charged it a little longer, same result. Repeat this cycle several times with my truck never running independently for longer than five minutes. Outstanding.

Plan D...I called a guy I'd met at the gas station who had a shop about an eighth of a mile down the road. We managed to get my truck there in phases and left it in the secure parking lot. Called my boss and arranged to borrow a vehicle and have his company mechanics come down today to salvage my wreck. I caught a ride back up with my parts runner friend and switched vehicles. Then back on the road with a short stop by my truck to get my belongings. By now my dog has ridden in three different vehicles in one day and is convinced that I've gone completely off the tracks...and did I mention that it has been about 35 degrees all day and misting rain?

Finally, nearly 12 hours after setting out, I made it to my apartment. After some minimal unpacking and a quick shower, I turned in for a good six hours of sleep before eight solid hours of classes today. Not an ideal start to the semester, but I guess it'll have to do. I hate having to ask for help. I have been fortunate to accumulate a number of people in my life who are willing to bring me parts, lend me vehicles, and generally pluck me out of the trainwreck that is my life sometimes. It's hard not to get into a cycle of feeling like an incompetent child when I get stuck somewhere and can't take care of it on my own, but it's even harder not to feel blessed that I have those people who answer my distress calls and drop what they're doing to help me out. As I've gotten older I have gotten better about accepting help when I need it. It's been a series of hard lessons and I doubt I'll ever fully get there. Maybe progress is the best I can hope for!