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Life Comes at You Fast

997

The title of this post comes from a commercial that has been on TV lately for some insurance company (I think?) and seemed appropriate to both the above image of a dust imprint left by a bird that hit our picture window last week (I know, it just looks like a black rectangle, but if you click on it you can make it out in the full-size version) and the way we feel 2007 has treated us so far. I know that updates have been few and far between lately so this is my attempt to catch up…

The first thing that should have told us to beware that the new year was out to get us was the giant, waterlogged, rotten, tree branch that came down one evening as I was getting out of my car, just missing me and crashing into the driver’s side doorframe. Amazingly, it didn’t do any visible damage to the car, though it probably would have knocked me out cold (or worse) if it had hit me. That was the beginning of January. A week later, I wasn’t so lucky; the night after we got the snow I posted those pictures of, I came out to my car to find the windshield cracked and starred right down the middle. Another tree branch. Since it was watertight and didn’t impede my field of vision, I decided to just live with it for a while since the deductible on my insurance was $500.

Had I fixed it right away, I probably would have been *really* mad three days later when a rock flew out from under a truck’s wheels on I-40 and took a chip out of the windshield right in front of my face. If there’s anything positive to be said, it’s that at least it didn’t hit in the same spot where the tree branch had, which probably would have shattered the cracked area.

The worst was yet to come, and this part was somewhat self-inflicted… I had an early morning run to set up a computer in Canton, NC. and when leaving the site, which was at the top of a very steep hill with a driveway I could not turn around on, I managed to run my left front wheel up along a retaining wall as I backed down the hill. I am not sure how to better describe that, but the result was that when it reached the end of the wall, the wheel dropped down about two feet and the undercarriage of the car hit the stone corner of the wall HARD. Managing to back off the wall I was hung on, with the rear end of the car backed onto a steep road with no line-of-site, I decided to wait until I got to work before assessing the damage. I was had only been going about 2 MPH at the time and the wall looked unharmed. It couldn’t be that bad, could it? I figured, at worst, I’d tore up my bumper. I drove down the road towards work.

I didn’t make it very far.

Within a quarter mile, I realized that the transmission was slipping; and by the time I barely managed to coast off the road into a parking lot, I had no transmission and an angry red “check engine” light glaring at me. I got out of the car and realized just how badly I had wrecked it…and also that the ‘parking lot’ I’d pulled into was actually the exit gate for the Blue Ridge Paper Company — which I was now blocking. I was stranded there over an hour.

I think, at this point, I will fast-forward past the angry tow-truck driver who yelled at me and abandoned me at the Misubishi Dealership, the Dealership refusing to touch the car because they didn’t do bodywork, (I was there because the Dealership was the only place my Mitsubishi roadside assistance would tow to) and having to be towed again to another shop. Luckily my bosses were understanding about the whole thing.

The car was out of commission for nearly a month, and the total cost of the damage was $3300. Oh, and the rental car I drove while it was gone also got hit by a rock, which dented the hood. Good thing it had extra damage coverage (expensive, but the way our luck was running, well worth the cost) on the rental contract.

Another highlight of the new year so far is the financial disaster caused when, after we bought a copy of Quicken 2007 to help manage our finances, Intuit’s sales web site went berzerk and tried to destroy them instead. We’ve made a commitment to getting our financial situation under control this year, and getting Quicken was part of that. I spent hours getting everything all set up, only to see, in one of the very first downloads, $150 worth of overdrafts where we’d been charged four times for the software! I sicced Joy on Intuit customer service after I didn’t get anywhere with them and she got it straightened out. The software is very cool (even if the experience was not!) though I am not sure if it is a good thing to be able to see in such accurate granular detail just how financially screwed we are 🙁

We tried to be philosophical about the $500 hit our brand-new budget strategy took when I had to pay for the car damage (at least I didn’t have to pay the entire $$3300, right?) but got another slap in the face this week when one of the back brakes on Joy’s car blew out, dumping brake fluid all over her parking space at work and gouging us for another $290. We’ve been trying so hard to cut costs — even managing to reduce our grocery budget by almost 40% by doing things such as buying as much as we can from bulk bins and making our own bread — and it seems fate is just determined to stomp us back down.

Anyway, that’s our year so far. Hope everyone else’s is going better. On a more positive note, both of our jobs are going well, we’re settled nicely into our house (we don’t even mind our resident ghost) and hope that 2007 will be a year where there are no job changes or moves. The only thing that could make us leave the house right now would be the rent going up, and we’re both happy at our places of employment. After 9 moves, three cross-country journeys, and (between both of us) 18 different jobs, we’d really enjoy some stability for a while. I hope I haven’t just jinxed anything by saying that!

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