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    Wednesday, July 02, 2008

    An Eventful Week Part I

    All okay here on the flood front, in case anyone is wondering. I did have a rather eventful week the week the flooding hit the area, but it wasn't related to the weather. Let's just put it like this - I now have a new old car. A 2005, which is the closest I've been to the current model year since 1998, when the late, lamented Saturn was three years old.

    Andrew came out for a week starting June 6th. It was between the end of school in Delaware and going to his father's in Oregon. He flew into Midway in Chicago on Southwest. Flying in and out of Midway is cheaper, even with the money spent on travel, than flying out of Cedar Rapids. So I drove in to Midway that Friday morning. The trip started without incident, but I got a speeding ticket shortly after entering Illinois. But from there to Midway things went well.

    However, as I parked in the lowest level of the parking garage at Midway (that's where short-term parking is) it seemed like the engine was running hot. I popped the hood, and saw light coming out of the engine area. This is not how it is supposed to be.

    I got out of the car, opening the hood fully, and spied the fire. Yes, fire. It was small - maybe the size of two fists, and it didn't seem like anything was on fire; rather that something had hit the engine block and started on fire - but as any mechanic will tell you, any fire on the engine block is a bad fire. I leaned in, blowing, finally putting the fire out. And yes, I realize this was probably not the smartest thing I've ever done.

    I went to get Drew, and called my mechanic in Iowa while waiting for Drew's flight to arrive. My mechanic confirmed my impressions that a: I should not attempt to drive the car, and b: the cost of transporting the car to Iowa to get it looked at would be prohibitive. I got Drew, then called Lesa. She got the numbers for some car repair shops and dealerships in the Chicago area, finally settling on the BMW dealership in Orland Park. They recommended a towing service. I called both, making arrangements to have the car towed and subsequently diagnosed. I then went to secure a rental car.

    I got a car at Budget in Midway. This was not without complications; they told me there was no Budget drop off in Iowa City, which I knew for a fact wasn't true, because I've gotten vehicles from them before. In fact, it was my satisfaction with the service at Budget in Iowa City that made me go to the Budget counter in the first place. Nonetheless, for some reason, it was not in the system. My only choice was to get a car I could drop off in Des Moines or get a car to bring back to Midway. Since I would need to get back to Midway the following weekend so Drew could fly out to Oregon, I decided to go that route. Besides, at that point I was still hoping I would have a BMW to drive home on the return trip.

    Meanwhile, we needed to wait for the tow truck to arrive before we went to pick up the rental. When the tow truck finally got there, he couldn't get into the parking garage. As a result, I needed to drive my car out of the parking garage to where the tow truck was parked by the departure drop offs. I wasn't particularly thrilled to be driving a car that had previously been on fire, but it worked out. The driver got the car hooked up, I paid the $200 towing charge, and Drew and I went to get the rental car.

    We got to the Budget lot and found out they had given our car to someone else because we hadn't gotten there right away. This despite the fact that I had told the person at the rental counter that we wouldn't be going right over to get the car. We ended up waiting another hour there til they had a car for us. It was a Cadillac, though. A very nice car. I was assured that there wouldn't be any extra charge, and we were off. We got back home around 11:00, about five hours later than I had hoped to return when I set off that morning.

    I'll leave out the fun aspects of Drew being here. Suffice it to say, it was great that he was able to be here for a week.

    Even if Ethan was sick for three days of that week.

    Anyway, on Tuesday I get the call from BMW of Orland Park. There's $4,000 worth of repairs, and that's just fixing the stuff the fire damaged. Finding what exactly caused the fire, and how to repair that, would be more. And that doesn't even touch the $1,000 in repairs the car needed before I drove to Chicago. (Nothing that was urgent, but things that needed to be taken care of in the next year or so.)

    The car cost me $6,000.

    Needless to say, it didn't seem to make much sense to drop $4,000 plus into it. The repair agent I spoke to, after I said not to fix it, told me that if I had said to fix it, he was prepared to try to talk me out of it.

    But that left me needing a car. I went out to the local Ford dealer. As much as I loved the BMWs, I wasn't prepared to get another car that was more than a decade old, which was the only way I could get another BMW. I found a nice Mercury Sable wagon that had been traded in just the previous week. 2005, low mileage, decent miles per gallon. The price was okay too. I got a quote, then went to the bank. Fortunately, the bank was willing to write a new loan high enough to pay off the previous loan and get the new used car. So that was taken care of.

    I still needed to dispose of the old car. I got that taken care of by donating it to charity. They would go to the dealer, pick it up, tow it away, and auction it, all at no cost to me. That's two headaches down.

    The final headache was getting the rental car and Drew back to Midway, then getting a new rental that I could drop off in Iowa City. I stopped in the Budget location in Iowa City, and was assured that, no matter what I was told in Midway, I could drop off a car there. They said I might have to rent the car to be dropped off at Des Moines, but even if I did, I could drop it off in Iowa City.

    So that just left getting Drew back to Midway. Unfortunately, his father booked Drew's flight at 9:15 in the morning. That meant we would have to get up at 3:00 am to make sure we got to Midway on time. Inconvenient, but possible.

    Until Mother Nature intervened.


    Matt said...

    Dude. Part two!

    Puffy said...

    I was expecting to read about the floods; if it's not one thing, it's another. Don't get me started on car problems...