Left for work well before the sun came up. I was smart enough to buy some gas yesterday before winter blew in full force overnight. It was even colder this morning pre dawn.
Got on the interstate for my twenty something mile journey to work and looked down to see the check engine light on. I looked at the thermostat gauge and was all the way on cold. Kinda odd but better than saying the car was over heating.
Got off at the next exit to check the water and oil. I've only driven the car to and from work twice and figured if it came straight from the shop was no need to check the fluids.
The minute the light came on I panicked. I knew to pull over and check the car's vital signs before we sent yet another vehicle to the morgue with no means of resuscitation.
The sun was coming up but was overcast and dark. I sat in the driver's seat at the gas station for five minutes looking for the hood latch, button, handle or control switch.
I did learn how to operate the sun roof so can scratch that one off my list.
I got out in the freezing "Hurricanic" (yes that was a word this morning) wind to see if maybe could open the hood manually.
Next step, I sniffed the hood for burning smells and looked for smoke coming out of the engine. I got back in and sat for another five minutes trying to find the obviously secret handle to the hood. Still no smoke or steam so I got back on the highway and stayed in what I now call "The Cotton Lane."
The slow lane.
It's much easier to limp off the road when your car craps out when already riding in the slow lane.
Been there done that.
The car ran fine the rest of the way. Just freaked out once when the car started decelerating but finally realized was concentrating on looking at all the control panel lights, levels and warning signals so much I had stopped pushing the accelerator as hard.
When I got home from work (with no more lights or warnings) stopped by Auto Zone and got them to read the code.
It's also hard to start sometimes. The mechanic had said it took once or twice to start but sometimes takes me about eight minutes to get cranked. It also has a really strong odor of gasoline in the car. It smells like I have a ten gallon can of gas in the back seat. One of the blinkers only works when it wants to but besides that seems to run great.
It came back with three different codes, one for cylinder misfire (hard to start issue I suppose) temperature below operating range and faulty thermostat. (the thermostat will go half way up then fall completely down)
Other than that, it seems to be a great car. It took almost two years to get it but at least I'm driving my own car and everything else seems to work...radio, CD player, cassette player, heater, defroster, wipers (which need replacing but no biggie) sunroof and all windows.
When I went to get the tag for it the day we picked it up thought it would be around seventy five dollars. It ended up being $474.40. I still owed the guy $690 for labor so only had $300 to give him and told him I would get the rest to him as soon as I could, probably next week, maybe sooner if the tipping gods smiled on me.
I'm going to take it back this Thursday on my day off to show him the codes from Auto Zone, get the blinker and thermostat fixed and find out whatever causes the strong gas odor. I have to drive with the window cracked or almost makes me nauseous.
The dude at Auto Zone said he didn't think it would hurt to drive it but keep a check on the water and oil since the thermostat wasn't working.
I gave TJ a ride home from work the next day and he found the hood latch for me. I stopped after dropping him off to check under the hood.
The hood opened just fine but wouldn't stay up and didn't have a prop. I had to hold the hood up with one hand and pour my water bottle into the radiator with the other...not very easy to do since my bottle only held sixteen ounces. It didn't need much water and the oil was fine.
I now have an aluminum bat aka hood prop in the back of the car for engine checks.
I know the mechanic's not thrilled I didn't have the entire $690 for him but for all the money we've sunk into the car I want everything fixed, and should be.
So the car has some issues... just hope they are all little fixes and don't add more money to the tab. Other than that I'm pretty satisfied with it. The body is in mint condition and tires aren't terrible. There are a couple of tears in both front seats but saw some pretty nice seat covers at Wally World for $22 and might get a couple when I have the extra funds.
I also thought about using the Cotton method...Duct Tape. They make so many different colors now I can probably find some to match the seats and just cover the rips.
I hate still owing the guy for labor but he still has some to do.
Work has been slow but has really picked up this week and think my paycheck next week should be enough to get me back on track.
I sent Verizon a text today telling them the "Check's in the mail" which isn't but by the time my seven day grace period goes by will have it for them.
The company who runs the concessions on our concourse decided they want us to highlight the 18% service charge when we take the check. For Pete's sake it's listed three different times on the check...can they not read?
Okay, maybe some of the foreigners can't read english very well and can understand that. I'm not trying to cheat anyone but it is a pretty upscale restaurant and there's always The Varsity across the food court from us.
Here's the thing. If you are on your game, engage the customer and go above and beyond their expectations, nine times out of ten will be well compensated for your efforts.
Case in point. Tonight was a mediocre night and made $206.00. People frequently flying international want a nice place to wine, dine and relax We are just that. They also want good service and if you give them all three are generally pretty grateful to have such an awesome place to spend a little time before boarding a sometimes fourteen hour flight.
Highlighting the gratuity doesn't bother me one bit. I have confidence in my skills as a server and feel like I am getting better at it every day.
It's been a big transition for me going from street side serving to airport side but am actually really enjoying it. The money doesn't hurt either.
I had a grumpy old man with his embarrassed (at him) wife at my table yesterday. I turned their entire day around with my PHD in BS and heard them tell my manager when leaving that I was absolutely on point, a great server and would most definitely be back.
That's what I'm talking about!
I like having a job where essentially am in control of my destiny.
So it took me over five months to find my groove but "Stella's Got Her Groove Back!"
I work an opening day shift on Tuesdays and don't really dig it. The one road to the interstate is backed up for over a mile at seven in the morning with downtown Atlanta commuters. After battling that, the MARTA station parking lot is packed at that time of day and finding a spot to park is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Tonight I found a server who wants to switch with me on Tuesdays. He'll go in at eight thirty and I will go in at three thirty for the PM shift.
So I get to sleep in, get errands run and don't have to battle traffic. I also don't have to work with the one weird server who for some unknown reason detests me and goes the entire ten hour shift without speaking one word to me. If she does speak to me, it's always about something she feels I've done wrong. Bump Her!!
If somebody wakes me up from this dream. I'll strangle 'em.
Not that I'm counting but six years two months ago the bottom fell out of our comfortable life.
I look at it this way.
I am almost fifty five years old. The last six are a pretty small percentage of that and although didn't feel that way then are behind me now.
These last six years have been the best lesson a person (or person's kids) could learn and wouldn't change them if I could.
Life is not to be taken for granted but learned and earned.
Then you truly know.
What goes around does come around.
I think what's missing most in people is the ability to understand you'll never understand it all but will learn from everything.
Til next time...COTTON