Sunday, November 30, 2014

Post Holiday Chaos

Thanksgiving was wonderful. I'm back home after a week of no writing, no internet, no marketing, plotting, editing, and definitely no blogging. For a little while I wasn't sure I was going to make it. Not just the no writing part, but in general. My life flashed before my eyes, probably because I couldn't see anything else.

I was hauling down I-5 in the early pre-dawn hours thinking to get out of the densely populated part of the state before traffic got absolutely nuts after the holiday. It was raining. I mean pouring sheets of water. My windshield wipers were working as fast as the little flippers would go - and then they quit flipping.

That fast I couldn't see a damn thing.

This was a far more literal flying blind than I was okay with. I wiggled the controls. Nothing. I panicked and as if by magic the wiper blades moved again. I had enough to time to catch my breath before they froze again, straight across my line of vision. They were the only thing I could see. I threw my hazard lights on to a chorus of blaring horns and pulled off to the side of the freeway.

I sat there for a little while watching the wipers work as they should, speed up, and stop, only to start the process all over again. I'm not overly familiar with this side of the state. Do I call AAA? Do I limp up to the next town or is waiting out the rain an option? I sat until I couldn't take it anymore and backtracked to option two. I limped into the next town, stopped at a gas station, and asked for the name of a good garage. It wasn't open until eight. At least they were opening.

Unfortunately, they weren't sure what the problem was, but, "There's a Nissan dealership twenty miles on up the interstate." They coated my windshield with Rainex and wished me luck. It wasn't pouring rain anymore, which made the twenty to thirty second intervals of non-functioning windshield wipers do-able as long as I hung my head out the window.

I looked like a freaking Witch Hazel cartoon pulling up into the Nissan dealership one town over, which I suppose is preferable to what I'd look like if I'd been hit by a passing semi. It was only ten thirty in the morning and I was sure the potential for chaos in my day had already peaked. I was hoping it had.

That's when the guy behind the counter told me their maintenance schedules were booked for the day. Would I like to schedule an appointment for tomorrow, he asked with one of those customer service smiles.

"No, I want to hang my head out the truck window for another two hundred miles while traversing a mountain pass."

I didn't actually say that, but the words came so close  to leaving my lips that I realized I needed to get the hell out of there before I said something that would get me thrown out. I was dangerously low on polite, headed directly for snarky bitch in about two shakes and I still needed a garage, one that understood Nissan wiring and had parts.

I set up at the Holiday Inn to wait the day out. Driving was off my list of things to do, so I walked a couple blocks, bought a notebook and a set of pens, because nothing says reward like a new set of pens, and returned to the hotel room to write. I wasn't supposed to write this week, but the situation had already devolved from the original plan and my other option was the hotel bar. No good would come from that.

Within an hour the morning was forgotten. Writing takes me to my happy place faster than anything. I lost myself in that problem middle section of Deciding Lies until I fell asleep, amazed that the muscles of my hand didn't cramp after eight hours of uncustomary activity. I type. I don't typically write with a pen and paper. I watched the Lego movie. I can't believe I watched the Lego movie.

The next morning I got out of bed full of confidence. I got dressed, went for breakfast, and made my way back to the dealership knowing that life was returning to normal. I opened the notebook and mapped out the beginning of an outline for the sequel to Girl Found. Four and a half hours later my truck was ready.

"We figured out what the problem was. We can have the part in by Tuesday if you want to come back."

What! A instant wave of panic swept through me. Was this for real? Switches aren't even half the size of a credit card. How is there not a drawer of the things somewhere in the building? It's not like wipers are optional equipment. "I don't live anywhere near here," I told the man. "Is there another garage that has one?"

"No, this isn't a part we stock. It's rare they go out. At least the wipers work most of the time," he said encouragingly, like that mattered. "I'll give you the part number and you can get a local garage to order it for you."

How are partially functional wipers viewed as nothing more than an inconvenience, like the seat warmer going out? There was just going to be a little extra water to look through, what was my problem? Not for the first time I wondered if I shouldn't rent a car and come back for the truck Tuesday. I was still in the same position I'd been in yesterday, except now it was a day later. I'd watched the weather. All I had to do was get east of the interstate and I'd be out of the rain pattern. I crossed my fingers and left the garage.

It sprinkled on me intermittently before I drove out of the rain system, but sprinkles were manageable. Those sprinkles turned to spitting snow when I hit the pass, but that was okay too, and there wasn't as much snow as there obviously had been the day before, which made me wonder. As crazy as the previous day had been, would it have been worse if I'd taken the pass yesterday? I'll never know, and I think I'm okay with that.

Tomorrow I will contact the garage in the next town over to have the part ordered. I'm crossing my fingers it doesn't rain the day it comes in.


  1. Where were you, Lisa when all of this happened?

  2. Hi Ruth, Happy Holidays! I was between Portland and Wilsonville on I-5. I stayed in Wilsonville. Not sure what the name of the little town I first stopped in was. Finally made it home and I think the wipers are fixed. I think.