Car Trouble: A Bad Start to Vacation

You know that feeling you get when you leave work for the last time before your vacation? That is the feeling I had today, but unfortunately it didn’t last long. I walked out of the bank, and it was pouring down rain, but I didn’t care, vacation had started and that’s all that mattered, so I rain carelessly through the rain to my car, hitting the automatic locks as I got closer, ready to jump in as soon as I reached it. When I finally got there, I grabbed the door handle and pulled, but it didn’t open, so I hit the button a couple more times and tried again, still nothing. I thought that perhaps the rain had broken my electronic key, but still I wasn’t upset, because how could I be, with the beach so near in my future? I unlocked the door manually, like a caveman, and slid into the seat, slamming the door behind me, now sheltered from the pouring rain. I put the key in the ignition and turned, ready to leave work and let my body sink into the relaxing vacation mode that it so desperately needed, but the car didn’t start, and all I heard were clicks. My car was dead, which had happened to me on numerous occasions when I owned a crappy 1994 Honda civic that didn’t politely beep to remind me that I’d left the lights on, but had never once happened in the two years that I’ve had my CR-V. Sure, there have been countless times that I left the lights on, but before I could exit the car, I was reminded to turn the lights off, but perhaps today my car was more depressed than usual, because it didn’t beep, allowing itself to die while I worked, completely unaware of the situation.

I know how it happened too. I was sitting in my car on my lunch break, which is the time I typically work on the book I’m writing, and I noticed a car parked in front of me with a front license plate that just said “Jesus” as if that were the person who owned the cadillac. It was parked like a jerk, taking up two parking spaces, so I thought it would be funny and took the picture, captioning it, “I guess the son of God probably deserves two parking spaces”, but it was dark outside and difficult to read the license plate that was really the focal point of the joke, so I switched on my headlights to get a better shot, and unfortunately didn’t turn them off again. I left my car and knocked on the window of my coworkers car who hadn’t left yet and asked her if she had jumper cables. She did not but suggested I check with the building’s security to see if they did, but when I trekked back through the rain and entered the building, the security desk was empty, so I decided to call triple A, who over the years have rescued me from my own stupidity.

While on the phone trying to enter in all of the information, my wife who was aware of my problem put in a service request with Geico road side assistance, which we get through our car insurance, and told me that somebody would be there in an hour to help me out. I was stuck at work, but with little to do, I sat in my hot car, the windows fogging up as the cold rain fell around it, writing the beginning of today’s blog. The tow truck arrived sooner than expected and the mechanic jump started my car, all the while looking at me like I was a complete idiot, which is hard to disagree with. An hour after the bank closed for the day, I finally pulled out of the parking lot, officially starting my vacation. I just hope that my initial problem wasn’t a sign of bad things to come.

Stealing Cars & Groceries: Nobody Cares

Car alarms are useless. It doesn’t matter what kind of car you own, whether it’s a Lexus or a Hyundai, there is no real protection offered to you in the case of auto theft. I’ve never been the victim of this sort of crime in my life, but if it happens to me, I can’t say that I would be surprised. Just today I heard a car alarm going off in a grocery store parking lot, and neither me nor any of the people in the area cared enough to see what was going on. That’s just the way it is. An alarm is seen as more of an annoyance rather than an alert that something bad is going on, which is why I find car alarms completely useless and ridiculous. I click the button on the remote a couple times, first for the initial lock and the second to make sure the alarm is set, but that doesn’t really matter at all because nobody cares. Unless you are within eyesight of your car being broken into, the thieves will get away with whatever they want, and unfortunately this doesn’t just apply to automobiles.

As I left the grocery store today, I was behind a woman who set off the stores alarm when leaving, and and she didn’t even stop, not that it mattered because an employee was quick to offer her an apology for the “malfunction” and send her on her way. For all anyone knew this person could have stolen every item in her cart, but because nobody cared, she left the store free of any suspicion that any wrongdoing had taken place. The popular phrase, “the customer is always right” seems to take away any responsibility of the customers that shop at a particular store, one that is much more interested in having said customer return than the potential loss that is taken if a non trustworthy person decides to walk out the door with more groceries than they have paid for. I just don’t get it, and I wonder why stores let people get away from the flashing lights and beeping sounds of the security sensors as if the store is the one at fault.

I don’t plan to steal a car or anything from a grocery store but I have to say that it seems pretty easy to do so. When was the last time you heard a car alarm in the parking lot and actually went to investigate what was going on. That is somebody else’s problem, just like when a teenage employee doesn’t think twice about the person leaving the store while alarms go off all around them. I don’t condone stealing, but if other people are getting away with it then why should I continue to pay my weekly grocery bill at full cost? Don’t people care enough about what they own to step in and put an end to this madness? The evidence clearly says no, and that is why I won’t be surprised if either of my cars are stolen at some point in the near future.

How to Fix Bad Driving

There are few things that I hate in life more than bad drivers. I hate them because their actions directly impact the lives of innocent people who just happen to be within close proximity of them, and it’s not fair to anybody that actually follows the rules of the road. The two most common types of bad drivers I encounter on a daily basis, are people on their phones and people driving too slow. There are already steps being taken and laws being passed to keep people off their phones, but when it comes to people driving too slow, there is a lot more that needs to be done. The other day I was on the interstate, the speed limit sixty-five miles an hour, and I was behind a car that wasn’t even going fifty, and this isn’t a rare occasion for me, often the victim of being stuck behind someone driving well below the speed limit. When I was finally able to switch lanes and pass the offending car, I looked over to see an elderly woman, hunched over the steering wheel, squinting to see out of the windshield ahead of them, and I thought to myself that this person should not be driving.

I get that it’s tough getting older, when things that used to be so easy for someone become increasingly more difficult, but it’s just irresponsible to let bad drivers, regardless of their age or experience operating a vehicle, drive among us. That is why I think that a driving test should be required every couple of years, to ensure that drivers continue to operate at acceptable levels. It’s a pain to renew your drivers license, standing in long lines, but I’m of the opinion that this should be done every two years along with having to pass a written and road driving test. I would be more than willing to spend a few hours of my day every couple of years renewing my license, if it meant that our roads were safer. I’m not just saying that elderly people are the only bad drivers out there, because they are not. I’m amazed at how many people don’t know how a four way stop is supposed to work, or what to do if a stoplight isn’t operating, and a written test would ensure that drivers kept up with the laws rather than cramming the information into their heads to pass the test at fifteen, then forgetting the bulk of what was learned.

In addition to the written test, the driving portion would also help solve the issue of keeping people off the roads, who are no longer able to drive safely. I would say that most people pick up bad driving habits over the years, and that is direct result of not having to prove one’s driving ability after the initial test. If I were president, this would be a top priority for me, because in 2015 more than 35,000 people died in a car accident, and I would bet that most of those were caused by an irresponsible or bad driver. Driving is a part of every day life, and unfortunately it claims way too many innocent lives, which could easily be avoided if there was something in place to keep more bad drivers off the road. Maybe necessary changes will take place in the coming years, but until that time, I will continue to drive defensively with my head on a swivel, trying to avoid any potential danger brought about by bad drivers.

A Tale of Two Car Wrecks

I’ve only been in two car wrecks in my entire life, and they couldn’t have been more different. The only commonality between the two is that I was a passenger both times, so through nearly twenty-six years of my life, I haven’t wrecked a car, which of course means that now I’m bound to do so any day now, since I’ve made that information public, jinxing myself, but I suppose it has to happen someday. The first time was when I was probably eight or nine years old. My dad was visiting me in Little Rock on a Saturday, and we were about to go eat lunch before going to my soccer game. As was usually the case when my dad was in town, I got to pick where to eat, but since we we had somewhere to be shortly after lunch, we couldn’t spend the afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese, so I chose my favorite fast food restaurant, KFC, which my dad affectionately called “Kentucky Fried Crap” or “Krappy Fried Chicken” but I loved their mashed potatoes, so I didn’t let the name calling bother me.

On the way to KFC we got into a car accident. We were both okay, and this being in the era before cell phones, my dad knocked on the door of the nearest house to borrow the phone, making two calls, one to the police, and one to my mom. The only thing I remember about the house where the call was made, is that the woman who lived there gave me a mini snickers bar, which turned out to be the highlight of the day. My mom arrived shortly after to take me to my soccer game, and since too much time had passed waiting for her to pick me up, we didn’t have time to go to KFC, but had to get lunch at a place on the way to the game, which ended up being McDonald’s, so I didn’t get my beloved mashed potatoes, and there’s a good chance that I probably cried at my misfortune.

A few years later, when I was sixteen, my mom and I got rear ended getting off the interstate. I hurt my back, so I was able to sit out the first month of summer football workouts, so it all worked out for the best. I hated playing football, and there was nothing worse than wasting a day out of school in the scorching summer heat running wind sprints and hating my life, so I was more than happy with experiencing spasms in my lower back if it meant not having to go to the workouts. The first car accident ended in me not getting something I wanted, but the second one got me out of football, so I guess everything evened out. Hopefully, if I’m ever in another one, it will happen on the way to work rather than on the way to eat, that way at least I’ll be able to take solace in the fact that I’m missing out on something I’m not really looking forward to anyway.

The Most Dangerous Job I Ever Had

When I was sixteen years old I got a job at a place called “Gator Park.” Sounds pretty exciting right? If you’re thinking of a place where you can go to see alligators up close, then you are thinking of Florida, not the lame go-kart place where I worked. I’ve had a lot of jobs over the last ten years, somewhere between fifteen and twenty, but this one is near the top of my list for worst job ever. I went into the experience like any sixteen year old who wanted money but didn’t really want to work for it, expecting each day to ride around on go-karts or play arcade games inside and then get a paycheck at the end of the week. I was an idiot. My first day on the job, I got put in the batting cage. Most places you put in a token and a pitching machine throws you yellow colored baseballs with no employee involved in the process at all, but Gator Park was nowhere near that efficient. I had to stand behind the pitching machines, that were behind a net, to “protect” the unfortunate employee stuck on batting cage duty from getting hit with line drives, and make sure that the balls were being fed into the machine properly when they malfunctioned every two or three pitches. Having no prior training, it was my job to feed the baseballs into the conveyor belt as quickly as possible, while praying to anyone who would listen that my hand or shirt wouldn’t get caught in the machine and rip the arm from my socket. While that may seem like a pretty unsavory job, it was not the worst part. Although there was a net up, there were large holes all over it, so I constantly had to duck and move out of the way to avoid the balls being hit at me with alarming speed.

When I was finally relieved of my batting cage duty I was placed on the go-kart track, and I mistakenly thought that the fun was about to start. Again, I was an idiot. My job was to make sure the go-karts were functioning properly, which most of them weren’t, so it was my responsibility to get them started up again. I had at my disposal a tool shed full of items that could supposedly fix any problem, and no knowledge whatsoever of how to do it. By the end of my first night, I was covered in grease from pushing the go-karts to the shed and hammering away at anything that looked like might need to be smacked to get them running again. Thankfully I found a new job the next weekend so I didn’t have to relive that nightmare again. I found out a few years ago that Gator Park closed down, and I couldn’t help but be happy for all the young kids out there, that would never have to experience working at that awful place. With all of the equipment constantly breaking down, it’s a wonder that they stayed in business as long as they did. Good riddance.

A Big Problem

There is a persisting problem going on in Memphis, and I suspect throughout the rest of the world as well, but since I’ve only lived in Florida and Memphis over the past five years, I don’t feel comfortable making that assumption. It’s something I didn’t really notice when I first moved here last July, perhaps due to the huge increase in traffic that I was unaccustomed to living in a small Florida town, but lately the problem has become unavoidable and it’s driving me crazy. A lot of people here drive so freaking slow, and it seems like every time I drive anywhere I’m surrounded by cars moving at aggravatingly low speeds, and it’s not just older people as one might stereotype but people of all ages, in no hurry to get where they are going but content to waste time in the car. I really hate driving, in fact it’s one of my least favorite things to do because to me it’s an extremely boring task that has to be done, and I’m not really able to do anything productive while driving so it’s essentially a waste of my time. If teleportation ever became existed I would sell my car and never look back. For these reasons it makes it pretty difficult to fathom people who drive along in a lackadaisical manner, and it frustrates me to no end every time I’m caught behind one of these selfish drivers.

It wouldn’t be too big of a problem if the slow drivers followed the rule of the road and kept to the right lane, but apparently unbeknownst to me a new real has been put in place that says anyone driving any speed can drive in any lane, and it’s absolutely infuriating. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been behind someone, gaining on their bumper going under the speed limit. I feel like in those cases I should be allowed to bump into the back of their car and they should be considered at fault because driving too slow really is a danger to other drivers on the road. Surely I can’t be alone in feeling this way right? I’m sure some of you out there have noticed this terrible trend that is taking place, unless of course you’re part of the problem. We are all adults here and no that we are going to die someday, so you should be spending as little time driving as possible. All driving accomplishes is getting you from point A to point B where theoretically you can do something meaningful. Driving is waiting at a restaurant between looking over the menu and ordering the food and when the food arrives and you get to eat it. It’s just a necessary stepping stone towards accomplishing something else, it’s not the main activity but something you are forced to do before you can do the thing you actually want to do. So please, in the spirit of ending this trend ASAP do you’re part and honk ceaselessly at people who are driving to slow, and most importantly you need to lead by example. My philosophy is that if you don’t slam on your breaks when you see a police officer, you are driving to slow. Feel free to use that for yourself.

My Horrible Trip to the Mall

Yesterday evening I found myself in the hardware department of Sears. I was lured there by my wife who’d earlier in the day asked if I wanted to go to the mall and I made the crucial mistake of assuming that going to the mall meant shopping in stores much more exciting than Sears. When we arrived at the Wolfchase Galleria and the excitement faded from my eyes as we approached Sears, my wife made a suggestion that we get something to eat at the food court, to keep my occupied while she shopped for tools and salvage my trip to the mall. We got Chick-fil-a which is always a good choice, but I quickly realized once we were handed the bag of food that I wouldn’t be able to eat this walking through the store, because like any good american I needed to be able to dunk my fries in ketchup, which would be virtually impossible if not sitting down. We sat in the food court and ate the sandwich and fries, which were pretty tasteless by the way, no matter how much ketchup I put on them.

Once we got to Sears and made it over to the hardware section, the boredom kicked in almost instantly. In this way, I suppose I’m not your typical man, because I don’t have any interest in tools whatsoever. In this marriage it is my wife who is tool crazy and likes to do the typical manly things around the house, which is why we were shopping yesterday because she is going to change the rear brake pads on my car. Boring I know. I almost fell asleep typing that sentence, but it’s something that has to be done in order for my brakes to continue operating functionally so one day I don’t find myself speeding down the road unable to stop. Apparently that’s a bad thing but it’s not something I’ve actually experienced, and standing in the aisle full of sockets and wrenches I thought it might actually be preferable to being in the store at that moment.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that we were on the same aisle for at least twenty minutes. We were there so long that I began looking around me for something that I could use to hurt myself and be taken to the hospital. At that point I would have done anything to get out of that excruciatingly boring situation. I could use the box cutter to make a deep cut worthy of a 911 call, but it was in a plastic container that looked nearly impossible to open, so I settled on the foot long metallic ratcheting wrench. Before I could make my move, Leticia was ready to check out, so luckily I was able to leave without paying hundreds of dollars in medical bills. When we left the mall it was dark out, but I was feeling light and happy inside, proud of myself for surviving that excruciating ordeal. Hopefully I won’t have to go back to Sears for a very long time.