Thursday, June 12, 2008

It Seems Assuming Really Does Make an Ass Out of You and Me – Well, Me Anyway

Back in 2000 I purchased a used Saturn. Well my parents purchased it for me but those little details are irrelevant. And if you want to be particular, my grandmother who had just passed away actually bought me the car as it was her money. Anyway, I remember at the time we were concerned about a small chip in the windshield. They kindly informed us that the service department sandblasted it and that the windshield therefore did not need to be replaced. Ok, well they sandblasted it at least. They seemed to care and did a thorough job of cleaning the car up and fixing any problems before I drove the car back to my humble abode. Quite a pleasant experience I must say.

That car was actually three years old when I took ownership but since it was given a thorough tune-up, all was well and I kept that lovely green automobile for the next 8 years. Eventually, after ten trips down to the Sunshine state and over 100,000 miles it was time to say goodbye to Meg. That’s the name I gave my car but soon regretted. Anyway, I said goodbye to Meg back in March and traded her in for a whole $400. I had been through so much with her and I just sold her for 400 bucks like a prostitute. It wasn’t easy since I knew she would be heading for the chop shop but you gotta do what you gotta do. Sorry Meg.

I had wanted initially to purchase a brand new car which I could really call my own. However, financially it seemed best to go with a slightly used car. I found one on the dealer website that was the model and color I had been searching for and it was only a year old. What a steal – or so I thought. Against my will, I took it for a test drive and all seemed well. I bought it and as soon as I got home the trouble began. First off, they had forgotten to engrave the window which is a security measure that I happened to pay an additional $800 for. You better damn well etch my windows. We had to drive immediately back to have it done. Actually, prior to this I noticed I was having trouble moving the passenger side mirror but that magically fixed itself. Problem averted.

Next up, after about a week of having this new, as of yet unnamed car, I noticed that the wiper blades are completely useless. The one on the driver’s side leaves three huge smears right in the line of sight. Great. So glad I can see in the rain while doing 70 miles per hour on the highway in the dark. My mother happened to run into someone who worked at the dealership and he informed her that they never replace wipers on the used cars before selling them but they would happily put them on if I bought them there. Uh duh! Really?

So today I go for my first oil change and also inform the service manager that I would like new wiper blades since it seems mine are both pieces of shit that they never felt the need to replace before selling me the car. Well, I didn’t say all of that but he said ok, that will be another $40. Ugh! I take a seat in their nowhere near as nice as Saturn waiting area where a certain someone happened to be on TV. Thank goodness everyone else left and I was able to change the channel. Conjuring up bad memories while already in an annoyed state would not have been a good idea. Especially since my mood was about to get progressively worse.

As is everyone sitting in the waiting area’s worst nightmare, the service guy came over to talk to me. He told me that my tires were wearing down and I am in dire need of a tire rotation and alignment. All I could think of was that fact that I had only driven the car for 3 months. How could I possibly have worn down the tires so much? Turns out they don’t do any tire maintenance before selling you a car either. Another $20 added to the growing total.

Sitting and growing angry, the man comes to talk to me again. He now informs me that my brake pads are literally almost gone and it is crucial that they be replaced now. I tell him to hold off and he says I can’t because they are just that bad. Again, here I was thinking I had been driving around for all of 3 months. How could I have worn down my pads in 3 months? Growing in anger, the next time he came back (to try to get me to buy ridiculous car accessories mind you) I asked him the question that was burning a hole in my head. So I guess you guys don’t fix or replace ANY of the wear parts before you sell these cars to people? He basically told me that as long as they pass inspection, everything is butterflies and rainbows. Even if the parts are nearing disaster but are deemed ok, they will sell you the car and the buyer is never the wiser UNTIL you go for service. Fan-F-ing-tastic!

It only got better when he told me I was due for my 30,000 mile service which costs $525. I left there angry and bitter and wishing I had gotten a brand new car, not from that dealer. I had assumed that like Saturn, although I was purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, it would at least have been thoroughly checked out and all the little wear parts would have been replaced. What an ass I am. Never again. I learned my lesson.

To anyone out there buying a used car, ask ask ask lots of questions before you sign that not-so-dotted line. Buying a slightly used car may end up costing you a lot more in the long run.

Signing Off Angry and Bitter,

Jill E.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Forty-Seven Square Miles of Magic

"When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” - WD

Had I been alive October 1st, 1971, my life would no doubt have changed that day. What you ask could have been so important? What life changing event happened on that October day back in 1971? Well, the Magic Kingdom opened at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, FL of course. Yes I know, Disneyland opened before that, but being from the east coast, I am a Disneyworld girl all the way. It’s crazy really how a rodent can consume your life.

For me, it all started in 1984. First trip to Disney with the family.

Since I was only 4, all I really remember was being TERRIFIED by a man pretending to be a robot. Please, men are scary enough. We stayed at the Polynesian which is a fantastic hotel right on the lagoon a hop, skip, and a monorail ride from the Magic Kingdom. In the decade to come, I made two more visits with the family which were thoroughly magical and soon after, a trip with my best friend and her family right after we graduated High School. The trip was equivalent to a much needed getting out of jail present. Yeah, that’s how much I liked High School.

Although I had developed a love for all things Disney, I really don’t think I truly felt the magic until I hit my 20’s. The older I get, the more I love the mouse. It’s insatiable. I need more Mickey! As soon as I pass through those Disney Gates I revert back to being 6 years old. I’m serious. And as you can see, not much has changed over the years.
It has been almost a year to the day since I have been through those Disney gates and it’s like a tiny piece of me is gone. There is a sad empty place in my heart. To ease the pain, I watched a vacation planning DVD today that came in the mail. The cheese factor was way high but I think I shed a tear watching it. Who wouldn’t want to spend their evening learning about Disney’s four theme parks; two water parks; 32 resort hotels (22 owned and operated by Walt Disney World); 99 holes of golf on six courses; two full-service spas; Disney's Wedding Pavilion; Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex; and Downtown Disney, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex encompassing the Marketplace, Pleasure Island and West Side. Wow! That may actually be too much excitement for one night!

Perhaps to the shock of many, I’ve even made several trips to the parks alone. The best was when Millionaire trekked down there (for what would be the last time). I was only working one day so I used everyone else’s passes and my friend’s hotel room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and wandered to all of the parks for FREE! It was all well and good until I got to the front of Peter Pan and they asked how many. I have to admit, I felt quite loser like having to say “Just one”. Who rides Peter Pan alone? I guess I do! That was the trip we got to ride Expedition Everest before it opened - - 3 times in a row actually. Despite almost puking from the continuous riding, it was one of my best Disney memories! That’s Kayla and me before the puking sensation set in.

Last year I had a power trip planned – 4 parks in 2 days. Being alone definitely made it easier to achieve my goals. I knew what I wanted to hit and made it happen. Sadly, the haunted mansion was closed, but thanks to the DVD I watched today, I learned it was closed due to renovations. My cousin, goddaughter and I went to the park one day too and for the first time in YEARS, went to a character breakfast. Can you say excited? First of all it was a breakfast buffet – HEAVEN!!!! And secondly, the characters would come over to each table and take pictures with the guests! Mickey Mouse came to my table!!!! Twice I might add. I really do think we make a great couple. And check out the food. Yum! Mickey waffles, cheesy eggs, cinnamon buns, and the real Mickey. Really, how can life get any better?

I blame my parents for this. It’s really their fault as they love the mouse whole heartedly as I do. In my present situation it looks like much more time will pass before I get to see Mickey again. But, in the meantime, I still have my DVD and plenty of Disney mementos to keep me happy. Perhaps after I finish this entry I will pop in my Disney Theme park music CD, put on my anniversary Mickey Ears, and close my eyes pretending I’m really there. Nothing beats that Splash Mountain music!

To all the fellow Disney lovers out there, have a magical night!

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – WD

Jill E.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It’s a False Alarm……or not

Life if full of false alarms. False labor pains, false positives, false election results….. They are all around us. The false alarm I am referring to today is the alarm in the form of flashing lights and really really loud beeping sometimes followed by a recorded voice telling you to move to the nearest exit…actual alarms. I bet you 90% of people that hear an alarm don’t think anything of it, except for me of course. Yeah I am a panicker but it’s not without reason and experience. If the alarm is telling me to get out, I am gonna get the hell out!

The other day at work the fire alarm went off. Ok. I looked around and everyone was plugging away at their work. No one seemed to care except for you know who. As it continued, people eventually began to question what was going on but no one got up to leave. UNTIL that is, a panicked voice gets on the speaker and tells everyone to walk to the nearest fire exit and await further instructions. Oh boy! I am panicking but trying not to show it. What the hell could this be? Three possibilities ran through my head. Yes my imagination is a little out of control. Yes I tend to panic over nothing. But these three possible options are not that unrealistic. I have first hand experience so give me a few courage points here.

Possibility #1, fire.

Let's travel back in time to 2001…..I think. I was living in PA in a lovely apartment with perhaps not the loveliest of neighbors. Unless you count nightly police presence due to drugs and domestic violence lovely. I was usually home alone as my roommate was a swimmer and often out of town at meets. It was a regular occurrence that the fire alarm would go off and beep incessantly. Usually we would just chalk it up to a bad battery and go to bed. One night, as I was of course home alone, the alarm went off again. It seemed to go on much longer than normal so I ventured out in to the hallway. After seeing smoke come out from under the door I realized that this is indeed not a false alarm. Another neighbor kicked the door in and removed the burning pot that was left on the stove. After Fire guys (excuse me, fire people) pumped out the smoke, I was able to return to my undamaged apartment.

Now let’s move up the time line a few months. I am home alone eating ice cream in my PJ’s. Did I mention it was 9 o’clock? The alarm goes off again. After the last time I was pissed so I headed back to the hallway to investigate only to find the hallway filled with smoke. Super! I ran back in to my apartment to call 9-1-1. The lady on the phone could not have been anymore disinterested. I can’t express the lack of concern in her voice in words, but damn honey, my building is on fire. Have a little compassion and sense of urgency. I grabbed my purse and headed (in my PJ’s) out into the dark rainy night to watch my life burn from the parking lot. I did have a kind invitation to stay at someone’s house from a neighbor on the other side of the fence. Um, no thank you! Long story short, the apartment to blame (same one as last time), which happened to be Right across the hall from mine, lost EVRYTHING. Walking in to the hallway that wasn’t, we attempted successfully to get to my apartment with a fireman escort and flashlights in tow. Opening the scortched door was like heaven as it was white and beautiful inside although it smelled more like hell I would imagine. So, again, not a false alarm.

Possibility #2, crazy person with a gun.

We have to travel a little further back for this one to 1990something or other when I was in HS. I live in NJ. Not in a city area and where I went to High School the population was probably 500. Not really that small but it is a teeny tiny, no one leaves here kind of town. It was the start of the school day in homeroom when we are cryptically told to remain in the classroom. No one was allowed to leave including the teachers until given further instruction. Ok. Obviously not a fire. I mean I hope they are smart enough in this tiny town to evacuate the students in the case of a fire. What does that leave? I really had no idea. Turns out someone had eluded capture or prison or something and had taken up in the house across the street. There were apparently armed men on the roof!

Not too much later in that same small town I was working in a deli when I saw armed men out the window charging down the street. It was like a joke. The funnier part was all the people going outside to check it out. Really? I was taught to run from danger. Again, I guess it’s just me. I am the crazy one.

Possibility #3, I don’t really need to go there, especially since we are talking about New York City. Obviously that is still a possibility.

So back to this past week. As we all gather in the hallway wondering what the hell is going on the voice comes back in a panic. Apparently someone missed the how to handle a crisis seminar! I really don’t think you are supposed to let on how panicked you are to an entire building of people. Remain calm bitch, that’s what I would have liked to tell her. She freaked me the hell out. Our instructions we were awaiting never came so we proceeded down the 13 flights of stairs. All the while I am thinking we are gonna be trapped between 2 burning floors just at the same time the gunman arrives in our stairwell trying to flee. Thankfully I made it down just to find out a construction worker accidentally hit the alarm. Super. Thanks. I mean I could use the exercise but….

I was in the torture room at Ripley’s last summer when the alarm went off. NO one cared. I wanted to get the hell out but amidst the torture devices were a bunch of deaf tourists that didn’t hear the alarm. Employees were running around with walkie talkies and still no response. Well we stayed and like the other day it was indeed another false alarm.

To get to the point, amidst the many false alarms that come our way, there is always a positive somewhere in the crowd. You have to remain alert and aware and not take things and situations for granted. You may gamble and lose.

Be Safe.

Incessant worrier,

Jill E.