Weekend before last DJ and I went to south Georgia for a wedding. Not a friend, a complete stranger -- DJ is an Officiant-for-hire. Anyhoo, two exits south of ours on I75, our car lost one of the bolts to the front passenger side brake assembly. Grating and screeching ensued, so we pulled off the highway. DJ got the wheel off and saw the problem. All he needed, he said, was to get to the nearest auto parts store to pick up a bolt and put it in. I approached a couple of complete strangers in Burger King and found one who would be willing to drive him to AutoZone for $10. When he got back, he discovered he'd purchased the wrong thing. He walked to the Home Depot behind us in the vain hope that he'd be able to find it there. Nope -- no such luck. While he was gone, our friend Shane walked in. DJ had been talking to her husband (since the two of them were the ones who changed the brakes and apparently didn't quite screw the bolt in tight enough) and Ashley and Shane decided to lend us their van so we could get on the road. Friday rush hour traffic is notoriously bad on that section of 75. As DJ tried one last thing on the wheel, the jack gave way. He missed having his hand amputated by centimeters. The next day, while we were wandering
empty lovely downtown Perry, Georgia, Ashley bought the correct bolt and put our brake assembly together in a couple of minutes. Everything was fine. THANK YOU, ASHLEY AND SHANE. Unfortunately, we ruined DJ's perfect attendance record by being an hour late to the rehearsal.
So this weekend the three of us were going to the mountains for another wedding. In an attempt to avoid last weekend's drama, DJ rented a car. Sweet Pea and I left school a little early. The cabin we were heading to was paid for by the bride's family and we were even allowed to bring the dog. Naturally, the dog wasn't allowed in the rental car so we covered the back seat with an old sheet. DJ put $40 in the tank, air in the front passenger tire, and in a state of almost manic anticipation, we hit the road.
Guess which part of that last paragraph should have caught your eye?
The on-board computer registered a slow leak in that front passenger tire. In Gainesville, about an hour before our ultimate destination, DJ decided to pull over at a Meineke to have them take a look at the tire. We took Rex out of the car and tied him to a tiny tree out front with a bowl of water. The manager, Nice Ronnie, told us a technician would be back in 5 minutes. 30 minutes later, the technician told us that not only had that tire been patched previously, but the other three tires were in horrible shape. I don't remember all the details but they recommended immediate replacement or Dire Consequences.
DJ gave the number for the rental car office to Nice Ronnie, who called them to report the problem. "Dave", the manager, had to give Nice Ronnie another number to call to get approval.
An hour later nothing had happened, except that Sweet Pea and I had hit the Dollar General for cold drinks. Nice Ronnie let us put Rex in the employee bathroom, which was cooler than the three square feet of shade the poor dog had been occupying.
DJ called the approval manager a phone call. The voicemail he left for the manager was pretty impressive: he gave the man five minutes to call back, mentioning the "unsafe conditions" that his family had been put in and the "loss of income" that would result if we missed the rehearsal.
Three minutes later the approval manager called back.
Nice Ronnie quoted the approval manager the price on four new tires. Ten minutes of bickering ensued as the approval manager tried to purchase the cheapest possible tires. No resolution. Fifteen minutes more went by and finally they came to an agreement. All four tires would be replaced.
At this point we had spent 2 1/2 hours at Meineke. In Gainesville. We were slowly but surely losing all enthusiasm for our weekend in the mountains and severely stressing out. We knew we were going to be late for the rehearsal if we didn't hurry. Sweet Pea had examined every magazine, sign and vending machine in the place.
Nice Ronnie took the reins. He called the local rental car branch and told them we needed a replacement vehicle. NOW. They said they would send a car right over.
The FIRST rental car was brought down far enough for us to pull out all of our belongings. We grabbed everything that belonged to the dog and stashed it in the back room. We told Nice Ronnie that if the car rental place guys didn't seem to be leaving fast enough, he'd have to distract them long enough for us to sneak Rex out of the employee restroom and get him into the SECOND rental car. Phone rang. No, the car rental guy was going to come get us and take us to their office for another car. Great. Now what about the dog?
Nice Ronnie offered to keep Rex for us while we picked up the other car. Now we had to load our stuff into the SECOND rental car, ride to the rental office, transfer our things to the THIRD rental car, then drive back to pick up the dog and put him (illegally) into the car. We were promised that it would only take five minutes to get to the office, five minutes to get the car and five more to get back to Meineke. It actually took thirty and included Sweet Pea and I getting locked in the back of the second car because of the childproof locks.
While at the rental car office, I managed to get the bride on the phone. I told her of our dilemma. She was quite calm and collected. I would later discover that this was par for the course for her.
We did finally get the new car (and don't think we're going to be paying for the SUV upgrade), get the dog in the car and make it to the rehearsal, an hour late.
And that was just the ride up there. Wait'll I tell you about the taxidermy store. And the actual wedding.
Naturally, of course, we had a flat tire on the way home.