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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Flat Tire

So, for those of you who are my Facebook friends, you may have heard that I had a bad day. And not in the Daniel Powter way... I really had a bad day. Apparently I was not very graceful about it either. I decided that I would share the whole story with you since it was noteworthy.

The day started out quite pleasant. I went to Kansas City to watch my friend's baby, sweet Hannah. She was a delight and it was nice to spend time with her. After I left there I grabbed some lunch - yes, Sonic I am addicted to your Raspberry Vanilla Diet Dr. Pepper! Then headed home.

The trouble began about a mile before the turnpike entrance when a random white vehicle would speed up and slow down, just to be right next to me. At this point you must understand that I am paranoid, seriously. Some may refer to me as a conspiracy therist. I absolutely will not acknowledge this person trying to hard to drive right next to me. We approched the toll both for a ticket and I hear him shouting at me "you have a flat tire" and he is pointing and literally shouting. So I look over (only because I am in the eyesight and safety of the toll booth operator) and he is MAD. I give him the thank you wave and pull out and over to the side of the road. The time is 1:28pm.

I am not a total idiot. I had noticed that my car was shaking in a weird way, so I turned down my rockstar music and listened for the thudding noise of a flat tire but heard nothing. It was raining hard, so I just figured that it was something about the road. Apparently I was wrong. Thank you Mr White Car Guy. I also feel the need to state that I am kind of a freak when it comes to vehicles anyway. I just really feel that a vehicle should be reliable and any sign of weakness and I ditch it like bad milk. My SUV is not that old and we replaced the tires recently.

Moving on...but kind of related to my need to feel safe in the vehicle. I pushed the blue button on my mirror to summon the man who talks to me from the ceiling. From here on out he shall be known as ONSTAR. This is something that Clint and I have decided to pay for each year so that I will feel safe. Because really, aren't the commercials so comforting? They can find you anywhere, they know if you just had an accident, they save your infant who is locked in the car at the gas station? Buyers beware - that was NOT my experience today.

They are so curteous when they answer the call, Good Afternoon Mrs. Bibler, how may I assist you today? I inform them that I have a flat tire and require assistance. They forward my call to the appropriate department (which, by the way, I learned today is a completely different company that handles roadside assistance). A young lady confirms that I am in fact located on I70 and wants to then know what mile marker I am located at. As no mile marker is visable to me, but I have just passed through the toll booth to enter the turnpike, I decide to look at my ticket. There are many cities listed and each one has an exit number by it, with the entrance being listed as 236. This number is important and will be a source of great greivance in the near future. She is able to locate a nearby fix it man and send him my way. The estimated time of arrival is 45 minutes. Shortly the man calls me to say he is on the way, but he is from Leavenworth (just east and north of where I was). Remember, it is raining so I choose to do nothing except whine on FB and wait for him - the professional tire changer.

I feel it important to share that my husband is the greatest samaritan there is. He stops for every person we come across who is on the side of the road. I am not kidding, sometimes it is even to his own detreiment because he will be late to where ever he was going. He is just that nice. Once when I laid down the law (and the car was probably full of kids) he called the motorist assistance highway guy because he couldn't stop. Anyway, this also will be important later. Just a side note, the name of the fix it man's company is STRANDED. LOL, thus my first FB status. Clint thinks that this name was chosen while having a drinking contest!

The stranded man shows up. He does not look to scary so I consent to letting him help. The time is 2:22. Swiftly he pulls out a jack and in no time has my car up, tire off and we head to the back to retreive the spare. On my car it is kept under the car, but not accesible from within. There is a special tool, placed in a hole that lowers the tire so you can detach it. Very fancy you think. Well, not so much. The man worked, asked for owners manual, worked, got under car, worked, called his boss, and worked some more. He finally decided that he was not able to get the spare off. "Something must be faulty in your mechanisim" he says. He puts the flat tire back on my car, charges ONSTAR for his service and drives away. It is still raining, my hair and clothes are soaked, I am wet and cold. The time is 3:34pm.

Another call to ONSTAR, I request a tow truck as there is no fixing the flat at this time. (Meanwhile my husband has been on the phone with dealership and they have been trying to talk him through this. Their idea to tow it in). A decision is made by the roadside assistance that this is a new problem and requires a new ticket. Once again, I patiently attempt to describe where I am located at on I70, as I have no visual of any mile marker. For goodness sake lady, I am just west of the dang tollbooth. She has no idea where that is, she needs me to give her cross streets so she can search for a tow company. REALLY - there is no road intersecting the turnpike at this juncture. I am probably halfway between Bonner Springs, KS and Tonganoxie, KS. My little ticket says it is mile 236, but I am not sure that is correct. She puts in that mile marker and calls a tow company. They answer, ask where I am located, I tell them (at least they know what I am talking about) to which they reply that is out of their area. I ask where they are located and it is Overland Park, KS. To which I reply, well I am not sure why the stupid lady called you because that is far away, there are closer cities to me. FYI, the stupid lady was still on the line with us. She thanked them and we re-defined where I was. She calls another company. That man agreed to come out, said it would be 45 minutes if there was no rush hour traffic. I asked where he is located, response - Kansas City, MO. EVEN FURTHER away...what the heck lady? I start telling her that there are closer places. She informs me that his time estimate is within the accepted standards (I silently say that it is the standard answer) and that if I want a tow, he is the one who will do it. I am not sure why I continue, other than I also have an obsessive need to be correct and it is just ridiculous to me that they will make someone come that far, tow me to Topeka and drive that far back. There are a dozen places closer to me. Surely we can be more efficient? Apparently they have never heard of pleasing the customer. She started yelling at me. The man said for us to hash it out and call him back. I begin to get defensive. She asks me what I want to do, and I replied, speak to your supervisor.

Supervisor gets on phone (who are we kidding - after she was debriefed about the witchy customer). She begins telling me the same exact sentence the little worker used "it is our company policy to use the first listed tow truck that comes up, we may not skip over him to look for another". I did forget to mention that first worker had told me the tow to Topeka would be 47 miles, as I was waiting for supervisor, Inoticed that my GPS unit said it was only 33 miles to Topeka. I attempt to inform supervisor of this fact and tell her that Lawrence is just about 10 minutes in front of me. She cuts me off several times, repeating her stance. Finally she hears me, but to no avail. She says there are no contracted providers in that town or they would have come up on the log, she can not skip over the first guy. I begin to cut her off, as I am positive they have not even checked in the Lawrence area. In fact, I am positive that they have only checked behind me, especially since they thing I am 14 miles farther back than I am. We fight for awhile, both trying to wear the other down. I must have won that battle because she asks me what mile marker is Lawrence (because they can't find that town) and they need a cross street. She has only asked me about 89 times if I am sure I am located on I70. I look at my toll ticket and inform her that Lawrence is exit 204. After a short pause, she says nope, that mile is Wilson, KS...what the heck??? I strongly advise there that it is not, she cuts me off, informs me that she is looking at a US Atlas (one on paper, not on the internet) and that mile is Wilson, KS. I again, strongly advise her that I have been alive for 37 years, lived here most of my life and that it was in fact Lawrence, KS in front of me 10 miles or so. She argued that it must be the county then - I again said no. That I was familiar with all 105 counties in the state and that definately was not the county. She was getting agitated with me - REALLY, it is raining, I have been on side of road for three hours...

Please note that at this juncture of the conversation, I am full on sobbing and starting to have an asthma attack. When I feel the start of it, I just start panicing and it becomes worse. So bad that the woman can hear me and becomes concerned. She would like to send the paramedics to help me...WHERE EXACTLY WAS SHE GOING TO SEND THEM, AS MY LOCATION HAD YET TO BE DECIDED UPON??? I declined, attempted to calm down, found my inhalor and relaxed a little.

Meanwhile, the first worker has been researching Lawrence, KS and decides that I70 intersects Highway 59 somewhere close to Lawrence. Great going smart one. If I had my computer, or my brain, I could have told you that about 45 minutes ago. After the supervisor gets the cross street she does something - that does not take long. All the sudden it is as if a lightbulb has been turned on. "Mrs. Bibler, you are on the Kansas Turnpike, not I70". If this woman had been in front of me, I would be asking for bail money and a good lawyer. NO JOKE! The first worker then contacts a tow company in Lawrence (suprise, suprise - they have contract companies) and my estimated wait time is one hour. The time is 4:24pm. YES, they argued with me for an hour about where I was.

About 15 minutes prior to the arrival time I called the tow company. I was just concerned that they thought I was close to Highway 59. I gave my correct location and the man informed me that his driver would be there soon, that he was on his way back from KC and stuck in traffic, some kind of accident. It becomes apparent to me that I am going to have to take things into my own hands. The rain has momentarily subsided so I exit the vehicle. Upon review of the owners manual I attempt to lower the stubborn spare tire. It is hard to know if the tool is hooked in correctly, so I feel under the car and guide it on. I then turn the handle and the tire begins to lower...excitement, I continue turning, follow directions in book -word for word, all is well. I have to confess that I don't recall operating a jack before and I am super nervous. While I am dismounting the flat tire, the tow truck comes. He informs me of two things. One, he saw me here when he was on his way to KC with two other cars. And two, I am located at mile marker 217. I am grateful that he helped me to finish the job. We put everything away and FINALLY I am on the road home. The time is 5:55.

That is it, let it soak in. Try to comprehend the dramaticness of it all. I know, it is a long story. And I am venting, complaining, whatever. I would like you to consider the following questions, once you are ready.

1. If KDOT is smart enough to redo the toll tickets including a new exit that has not even opened, why can't they update the mile marker of the new toll booth? (the toll booth moved a few years ago)

2. Why is roadside assistance using a paper US Atlas as a guide?

3. If you work for a company that is responsible for guiding help to emergencies, shouldn't you know how to read a map?

4. Did you know that the flashing blinkers on your vehicle (which I formally knew as hazard lights) are called four ways by the tow guy? and that if you keep them on they will run down your battery?

5. Why do men always have to blame someone else when they can't figure something out?

6. If you worked at the toll booth and saw a car on side of road in front of you for 4 1/2 hours, would you not send some help?

7. Should I have stood outside my vehicle attempting to flag down help with my awsome body?

8. Is number 7 the reason my husband always stops to help disabled vehicles?

9. Should I write a letter of complaint to the GM Roadside Assistance regarding my stupid phone call? or should I alert ONSTAR? (who by the way rewarded me for calling in my emergencies each time with a total of 60 free minutes on my car phone)

10. Is this punishment for letting my sophmore skip four hours of school this morning to write a paper for English?
Now that I have gotten it all out I am good. And thinking of another favorite song of mine - Better in Time. :)

3 comments:

  1. I can so picture where you were. Sorry to hear about your day (I did happen to follow you on FB that day too). What an obnoxious assistant company you have. I would write that letter and share your points about the way they run things. But I am not one to keep my mouth quiet to quickly. Good luck nd don't give up w/o a fight!

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  2. but your sophomore really appreciated it!!!

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  3. I'm sorry! I can also picture where you were. And please, please write that letter. They need to know about this great thing called the internet and a little ditty called Map Quest.

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