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12 August 2003 @ 01:02 pm
Bad car, bad repair people  
I took my car in for a checkup about a week or two ago.

They changed the oil and checked the brakes and did all the usual stuff. When i picked the car up, they told me that the alternator belt and some other belt were looking worn, and i should get them replaced at the next regular checkup, in October i believe, or 3000, miles, whichever came first.

Satuday night was _not_ October, unles there have been trange temporal warps floating about that i don't know about, nor was it close to 3000 miles.


------ Car dies-----
I came home a little early saturday night and talked to my ashke on the phone for a bit. About 10:30 or 11 i decided to head out and get some In-n-Out and donuts for dinner.

I had just turned left onto foothill when the car started acting strangely. Then the engine light came on, so i started to pull over. I managed to get into the Arco station, and the car completly died, and several more lights on the dash came on. I almost ran into the car getting gas in front of me (at a very low speed) because the brake stopped working and i had to use the parking brake.

I tried starting the car again, and it made a kind of whining noise like it was trying to start but wasn't able. But it was turning over so it wasn't battery or alternator. I looked around in the engine, but i know nothing about cars, and all i could tell is that all the translucent plastic bottles had stuff in them.

I got out my cell phone to call AAA, and then decided that reception sucks in this area, and there was a payphone right nearby. Suprisingly it only cost 25 cents. On the other hand, once i put the 25 cents in and called AAA, i could hear them just fine, but they apparently could not here me. Either that or they just felt like being rude and saying "Hello? Hello? Hello?" and then hanging up.

So next i tried my cellphone. After being put on hold briefly i got through to a person, and i told them my car was broken down and needed a tow to the nearest AAA approved repair place. He said he was ordering the tow, but he couldn't tell me where a repair place was. I responded that i had called AAA and had them recomend local repair places before, however before he could respond to that my cell phone cut out =P

So i tried calling again, and got answered by someone else. I told them i had called just prior but got cut off. She looked my info up and said the tow was on the way. I asked her about repair places, and she didn't try to convince me they couldn't do that. She asked where i was, and i said Pomona, at Towne and Foothill. She said there was a repair place in Pomona, and gave me the address. I looked it up and it was all the way down in the south-west tip of Pomona past the 10.

At that point i tried calling Morna, because i didn't really want to walk back from there. Bricriu answered the phone and said they'd just gotten back. Morna said she'd be willing to give me a ride and i said i would call back when the tow-truck got there.

Bricriu had suggested asking the tow-truck driver to recoment a closer place, but since there was still no sign of him, i decided to call AAA again, I figured maybe they were just doing a city lookup, and not closest by address. So i called up again, explained the situation, and asked if there were any AAA approved repair places in Claremont. She said yes, and gave me an address, or at least started to. I got the name but she said something like "main oak" just as the cell phone cut out again.

I borrowed a phone book from the gas station and looked up the name and got the address. It wasn't "Main Oak," it was "Lynoak," and it was right behind the Arco station i was at =P

So the tow person showed up, and towed my car 100 or 200 feet, although he said it wasn't the shortest tow he's ever done. Just the second shortest =P

As soon as that was done i called Morna and Bricriu again to tell them i didn't need a ride, since i was only about three blocks from home. Three longish block, but certainly a lot less farther than i've walked before. However Morna had already left, so i waited for her at the Arco station. Unfortunatly the bit about me being at a gas station at Foothill and Towne got relayed correctly but not the bit about me being at the Arco station, so she spent a while looking for me at the two gas stations directly on the intersection before calling my cell and asking where i was.

She gave me a quick ride back to my apartment and then went home since she was feeling pretty tired.



------ Sunday -----

I tried calling the repair place early on sunday. Then i tried calling them at 11:30. Then i decided they weren't busy on sunday. I spent awhile on AAA's website looking up other repair places before deciding no mechanics are open on sunday period =P

Spent awhile talking to Caithris, and then Morna asked if i wanted to hang out since Bricriu was busy with work. Morna came over and picked me up and we went to the mall. Wandered about and looked at various stores. Morna tricked me into going to Wherehouse, where i bought entirely too many used CDs. We also got some stuff to drink and split a Cinabun, and then Morna showed me a new store that's about 90% anime stuff and 10% stuffed animals. Had lots of t-shirts and models and posters and stuff, and would be really cool if not for the fact that they have a huge rack of pirated anime CDs =/

We went back to my apartment after that and Morna IMed Bricriu to see how he was doing on work, and he apparently felt like taking a dinner break. Morna asked if i wanted to come along so i'd have the chance to get some real food and so we could hang out more afterwards. Caithris called right after Morna got offline, but unfortunately i couldn't talk to her very much cause we'd already told Bricriu we were on the way over =/

We had dinner at some mexican place whose name i can't remember, but that was very similar to another mexican place whose name i can't remember. Helpfull, aren't i?

Afterwards Morna drove me back to my place and we talked for a bit while i looked up train schedules for the morning and then watched the first episode of B5 before she went home.



------ Commute from hell-----
I got up a little after 7, showered, packed a book and my gameboy advances (both of them, worried the SP might run out of battery power) and my birkenstocks into my evangelion bag, and left about 8:10 or so to rollerblade to the repair place.

Had to wait a bit to get to talk to someone because they were busy. When i finally did, we went out and looked at the car, and he said it definitely sounded like the, er, some belt or another. But anyways, it was fairly good news, since that's what i was hoping was wrong and it should be fairly easy and cheap to fix.

Fairly being a relative term of course. The parts and such totaled about $100 to $200, depending on if they need to replace the "tensioners" or not, and they had the labor listed as 5.5 hours and $300. There was an additional $100 in there somewhere, so the total "worst case" estimate was $600. This seemed high to me, and after reluctantly signing the papers i called up my usual mechanic and asked him about it, and he said that for replacing all the belts with labor they would have charged $300 out the door. Unfortunatly, i'm kind of stuck with the people it's at now. I didn't have the time to call up other repair services in the area and then get the car towed again to a new place. I'm considering having my normal mechanic take a look at the bill afterwards, and then call AAA and talk to them about it. Not really much i can do other than that though, and i doubt AAA will do anything.

When I'd looked at the train schedules the night before, there were several trains out of LA to Orange County that i could have taken. Unfortunatly they're all Amtrak trains, which means i'd have to pay a lot more to use them. Also unfortunatly, there is a huge gap in trains heading from claremont to LA, from 8:59 am to 11:34 am, which means that i'd only ever want to take the one train out of LA, and in order to catch it i need to be at the metrolink station before 9. Unfortunatly, but the time i finished dealing with the car and left to rollerblade to the station, it was already a little after 9.

However Claremont is about halfway between LA and San Bernadino stations, and there's a line that heads down from San Bernadino. Unfortunatly the distance from San Bernadino to Orange County is a lot more than the distance from LA to OC, at least as the track lies. Also unfortunatly, there are only four trains that leave San Bernadino station for OC in all day, at 5 am, 5:30 am, 6 am, and 12:17 pm. Don't ask me, i have no clue how the hell they came up with that system.

The trains heading east to San Bernadino from Claremont were likewise sparse, so i had to catch the 9:45 am traing to San Bernadino, and then wait at that station for about an hour and a half. The countryside on the way down to OC from San Bernadino is actually kind of nice, although i spent a lot of the time reading and playing Advance Wars 2. However the route certainly isn't worth the huge hassle and waste of time if it can possibly be avoided.


The train stopped at Tustin station at 1:40, just shy of four hours after i'd gotten on the first train. Rollerbladed from the station to work and got there just before 2.