Friday, May 26, 2006

The Road to Chicago: Day 1

First big news: The trip has been extended again. Dave is going to fly up next Wednesday so we can all have a mini family vacation and he and I are going to spend a day and night downtown celebrating my birthday (a week early). Then he will drive back with us on Sunday, June 3.

Now the actual nitty gritty of the journey. Tuesday morning the plan was to get on the road by 6:00 am Wednesday. By 5:15 when I hadn’t even started loading the car, the plan changed to leave by 10:00 am Wednesday after getting up at 5:00 and loading the car. I actually got up at 7:30 and had the car loaded by 1:00 pm so we left then. At the north end of the city I realized I had forgotten to pack all the hanging display stands for the plates and I had to go back. By the time I arrived back home I had also thought of two more things I had forgotten: my tool box with all the tools and cable ties, and the top to my little sales cabinet. Both would have been minor disasters in their own right. Picked up everything and was back on the road by 2:00 pm with a scheduled arrival in Chicago (per the GPS) of 12:32 am. I think it was a bit optimistic.

It is now 7:30 pm Wednesday and J and I are in Nashville at the Marriott across the street from the Crest Honda dealership downtown. One might wonder what we are doing in Nashville, stopped for the night not even halfway to Chicago. Well, we are here because just before 5:00 as I was stopping and going in rush hour traffic on I-24 the transmission started going out on the Honda. I didn’t even know where we were when it happened. I was lost in an audiobook on the iPod and cruising to the GPS. There is nothing scarier when you are driving (barring a real accident) than being in evening rush hour on a freeway in a strange town and having your car start jerking and shuddering—especially when you do not even know which strange town it is. I knew I was in Tennessee and I knew I was already past Chattanooga, but then I was drawing a blank.

I took the first off ramp into a clearly central downtown area and saw a sign on a building that said “Nashville”. One mystery solved. I had my cell phone so I pulled over to the curb and called directory assistance to see if they could get me to a Honda dealership. Clearly I had my technologies confused as the operators were unable to do more than recite a list of dealerships to me interspersed with apologies and excuses. While they were fumbling and listing, I glanced up at the GPS and on a whim, typed in “Honda”. In seconds I had the name, address, phone number and directions to a dealership two miles away. By then it was 5:00 and I figured their service department would probably be closed, but I hoped someone might be there late and could do a quick diagnostic and get me set up for service tomorrow. I lucked out, they had someone who would wait for me. I pulled cautiously away from the curb and headed for them.

When I got there they told me the diagnostic would be $95. It wasn’t like I had a choice. They hooked up their computer and sure enough, my car gave it transmission codes. I told them I had had transmission problems a month and a half ago and had had the solenoid replaced (it was about $700), and they said it shouldn’t have been done: Honda’s service guidelines say to never (their formatting, I saw it on the screen) replace the solenoid if the car has more then 20,000 miles. I have over 80,000. Grrrrr. They said I would probably need a new transmission. Then they looked up my Vin number in their computer and said something which turned my day around—Honda had a problem with the transmissions in some minivans the same year as ours so they extended the warranty to 7 years or 100,000 miles. I get the diagnostics and the new transmission for free!

The bad news is that they can’t get the transmission in and do the work till Friday—too late for me to get to Chicago to do my show this weekend. But Honda service did not end there. Josselyn asked if I wanted to rent a car—there is an Enterprise rent-a-car attached to the dealership. And she called over to see what they had. Moving right along on the good news/bad news continuum, there were no cars there or at other Enterprise that would work for me.

Josselyn also gave me the names and phone numbers of the two closest hotels—the woman at the dealership who might have been able to get me a special rate was already gone for the day so I didn’t luck out there—so I got a hotel room at the Marriott across the street and tomorrow morning Heather is going to try again to find me a car. Barring that I will probably rent a small U-Haul truck and get to Chicago that way. More tomorrow….

1 comment:

Bill Paley said...

Oy.

What more can I say?