Hey kids, let’s have a shittiest day contest!! Sound fun? OK. Let’s start…me first: OK, I got a frantic email over the weekend that said that if I didn’t move my car BY MIDWEEK from the garage of the house I still own in Morristown, NJ, the people buying the house would “dispose of it”. Seriously, the exact words. I had Sunday to figure out what to do (understand I had Monday in which to do anything because of work)…so keep that in mind…
The car has been in that garage for almost 20 months and had suffered some water damage from a leaky roof so I had no idea if the thing would actually start…or stay started if it did crank up. I had the keys here in BK so no one could even check. Because I *had to* move the car, I had to assume 1 or 2 things; it ran or it didn’t. If it ran, then I could drive a rental truck (with a car carrier) to NJ, start that puppy up, drive it up on to that carrier and haul it back to BK (it’s uninsured and unregistered…I didn’t look forward to $1,000+ traffic ticket bonanza if I got caught driving it). Or. if it didn’t run, I would need some way to transport it other than drive it. Getting it on a carrier would be impossible and what would I do with it once I’m back in BK? So I figured the safest thing would be to rent a truck and carrier and go get it. Seem simple, eh? Welcome to my world.
Ah ha!! There is a Budget truck rental place down the street AND they have car carriers so a little internet magic and I was set up for Monday morning 9 AM pickup. Forward to 7:30 this morning…the rental place calls “we don’t have any car carriers.”
Me: “Your national website said that you do and took my deposit”. “
Him: “They can’t see our inventory so they don’t know.”
Me; (biting my cheek, hard) “Um, well then why have a website where you can reserve things that you have no idea whether you have or not?”
Him; “Here’s the number to call the national office and they will help you.”
Me; “But you won’t.”
Him; “I only work here.”
So I call the 800 number at 7:45 AM and slog my way through the 7 levels of automated response hell until I get to the EXACT right choice (a car carrier was not available at the place of original request…fucking amazing, eh?) and after telling me that the national availability manager surely knows of my problem and is likely doing everything in his power to help me, unfortunately, they are closed and do not open until 7:30 AM…and then hung up on me. This is before I’ve even had any coffee. This is a new and distinctly vile smelling level of hell I’ve never visited.
I called my local clueless Budget employee and let him know that I’m sure that the national office was doing everything they could, short of recreating the 1968 moon launch, to help me but unfortunately, they hadn’t gotten out of bed yet. At this point my teeth were shoeing through my cheek…but I have to hand it to Raul, or Pepe or George because he did rally and told me that he would call around for me. 20 minutes later he rang and said he found one in Manhattan…well…it was actually in the Bronx but was being delivered that morning to Midtown and he put my name on it. I simply had to go to West 45th (btw 9th and 10th) after I picked up the truck here in BK and they would set me up. Oh lovely…driving uptown during morning rush hour…but lucky for me it wasn’t as bad as I suspected. The short rotund Hispanic behind the counter this time was Mickey and he told me that the driver left already and would be there in 30 minutes. Of course my New York ears translated that time on the fly so my brain heard “at least an hour but it could be 2”. He told me that I could go get a cuppa Joe but if I didn’t want a parking ticket, I needed to sit in the truck. I sat in the truck.
45 minutes later I checked with Mickey for an ETA and true to the shining example that is NYC efficiency, he told me that the guy left 20 minutes ago and should be here inside of 10 minutes…of course I made no motion that he told me 45 minutes ago half an hour…I just went back to the truck. 20 minutes later the guy showed up with the carrier, hooked me up and I was on the road. Total wait time 65 minutes or so…but who’s counting? I go back to thank Mickey and ask him “I can go through the tunnels with the truck and carrier, right?” He beams at me and tells me, yep, it’s A-OK (remember that). I head over to 39th street and get in line and eventually cross over to the “hated land” through the Lincoln tunnel.
The trip over to deepest darkest Jersey was uneventful, the truck ran, the carrier made mad booming noises on every bump…what I expected. I get to the house and look over the joint having not set foot in it for 20 odd months…and immediately and quite forcefully did not regret moving to the city. I went to the garage and eventually broke in (no power, no garage door opener) and saw the car. It was a mess. The garage roof had partially caved in above the car (from the massive rains in NJ last year) and the attic floor was the only thing preventing total and utter destruction. I opened the car and saw that almost every leather surface was growing a rather pretty coating of mold and the smell is hard to describe, so I won’t (again).
I connected a portable car jump device (basically a battery with extra jump juice in it) and tried the car. The damn beast played with me for an hour (cat and mouse, um, I’m the mouse) pretending to start then shutting off as soon as I let go of the ignition key. Bastard. I started calling around for people I knew in Jersey looking for a reputable car repair/towing place because that’s the only way it was coming out of the garage…oh, and it was in nose first so even jumping it would have been impossible (why I had the port-a-jump). But, I couldn’t actually talk to any car repair place because I had a conference call with work so from 1 PM to 2:30 PM was me with iPhone to ear, standing in the kitchen, looking out the window at the car every 3 minutes…mentally calculating rush hour traffic through tunnels and over bridges whilst driving a 16 foot truck and car carrier.
Finally off the phone I went back on the phone and cornered a local shop who came highly recommended by one person…my real estate agent who was, at the time, in Florida. I called and they were very nice and within 40 minutes another short rotund man (Caucasian this time…well, it is Morristown) and he sorted me pretty quickly and he was off. I wrapped up my biz in the house, took one very dry-eyed last look and climbed into the behemoth for the trip back. Note that it was 3:30 PM when I put it in drive.
The trip from the outer reaches of civilization back toward all that is holy and revered wasn’t that bad, considering I think that the long term plan for I-78 is to never, ever stop working on it. Seriously…still? But I was finally relieved of my good fortune once I got to the Holland tunnel, in the right lane (cash OK) and paid up and about to enter the gates to urban heaven when two Port Authority Cops started waving their arms and yelling at me. I roll down my window and ask what is wrong and they tell me that I cannot take a trailer through the tunnel. I stared for what must have been an hour but was likely a second or two (but, but Mickey said…) and said why did the lady let me pay then? They ran back, got my money back from her and directed (not quite with guns drawn) toward the exit and round about so that I could head back from whence I came.
At this point I could really spoil your dinner but I will not detail the arduous, painful and how utterly devoid of humanity it was during the 2 1/2 motherfucking hours…HOURS…from the Holland tunnel to the Lincoln tunnel up US 1/9…in a 16 foot leviathan of a truck dragging an anchor called a car carrier effectively making my vehicle 40 feet long. I’ll leave out the $59 I was charged to actually go through the tunnel because I was a “commercial vehicle”…I’m not going to regale you with the laughter and glad tidings of missing light after light because some piece of shit driver in a regular sized car whipped into my spot…I won’t tempt you to chuckle at the impossibility of driving that monster through NYC city streets that were originally made for a couple of pals with just enough room to walk side-by-side.
No, I will be noble and will not continue to nibble at your funny bone but will instead end this joyous tale by letting slip the tiny, almost insignificant detail that for the privilege of going to hell and back, held viscously and unmercifully in the mouth of that two-headed Budget Truck monster…ALL WITHOUT BRINGING THE CAR OR ANYTHING ELSE BACK…I was charged the delightful and completely appropriate sum of $438.50.
Oh, and I walked in my door at 8 PM (remember when I started out from 30 miles away).