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Snowing is half the battle

February 16, 2010 2 comments

I ran out of milk today.  I’m out of other stuff too, but without milk, I’ll have a problem come breakfast-time tomorrow.  Therefore, I needed to go to the grocery store, despite the fact that about 9 inches of snow got dumped on top of my car yesterday.

Fortunately, I had my emergency shovel in my apartment.  I inaugurated it the last time I had to go out, late last week.  It was in the trunk of my car at the time, so first I had to, err, borrow a shovel that the building maintenance guy had left lying around and clear enough snow off the trunk to get to the emergency kit I picked up cheap at Bed, Bath & Beyond a while back, so I could use a shovel I was actually entitled to use.  But as I was assembling that shovel, I pushed too hard on the handle and partially broke the plastic sleeve it went into.  The shovel was usable, but tenuously so, so I brought it to my apartment and solved the problem as Red Green taught me: with lots of duct tape.

So this time I had a shovel ready to go when I needed it.  Luckily, the snow was still fresh and loose, easy to shovel off, but there was a whole lot of it, and a lot more on the ground surrounding my car.  It took a lot of work to excavate the vehicle.

Finally, after getting most of the snow off my car and clearing as much as I could from behind and around the tires, I got in and prepared to wend my way grocery-ward.  I turned the key… and the car wouldn’t start.  It was completely dead.  I couldn’t even get the automatic door locks to work.  Which was strange, since they had worked just moments before.

Figuring the battery was dead, I asked some neighbors if they could give me a jumpstart.  But they told me I’d need to put the car in neutral and roll it back so they could reach the hood.  Turned out that I couldn’t shift the car into neutral unless I had power first.  (Or so I thought at the time.  It just now occurred to me that I released the emergency brake before I tried shifting to neutral.  Maybe going to neutral requires the brake to be engaged as a safety measure?)  And according to the neighbors, since there was no “ticking” sound when I turned the key, the problem might be the alternator, whatever that is, rather than the battery.  They suggested I call roadside assistance.

Okay, so I came back to my apartment so I could call from someplace warm.  But I wasn’t sure whom to call.  So I called my father — the car and its insurance policy are still in his name — to ask him.  He suggested his insurance company’s motor club, but he didn’t have the number, so he told me to call his agent.  I called the agent, and he didn’t have the number, so I Googled it.  I called the number and arranged for a tow.  They said they’d be there in an hour or so.

Nearly an hour and a half later, I got an automatic callback from the insurance company checking if I’d been helped yet.  I pressed 2 for no and 1 to speak to a representative.  After going through the rigmarole again, they told me the tow truck had had another call before me and should be there within 40 minutes.  They gave me the tow company’s number just in case.

An hour later, with the sun starting to set, I called the tow company to cancel.  It was too late to do anything about the car.  I asked to reschedule for tomorrow, and they told me to call the insurance company to cancel and make a new appointment.  So rigmarole again, and I tell them I’m cancelling a tow request.  I get put on hold, then somehow I get bumped back to the beginning and have one more rigmarole to go through before I can cancel.  And I can’t reschedule until tomorrow, so I’ll have to go through it again then.

And I still don’t have any milk.  I’m unsure what I’ll do about breakfast tomorrow.  The only dairy item I have is yogurt, and in my experience that doesn’t go too well with cereal.  And I’m out of Eggos.

Who would’ve thought digging out from under a record snowfall would be the easiest part of the process?

EDIT: I just went out to the car, since I remembered I left the emergency brake off.  While there, I tested whether I could shift to neutral with the brake engaged.  No luck.  That might be a problem if the car needs to be towed tomorrow.

And it’s snowing again.  Just what we need.

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