June 2009


In a fit of inspiration, I decided that one way I could get this blog back into gear was to clean up and post all of the drafts from this blog. So here’s one from July of last year which is probably one of my best stories of getting grovered. I did add some bits here and there (especially toward the end) that probably reflect my perspective now more so than then.

So Monday might have been the craziest day ever, for realz. Here are events in chronological order.

I emailed my new boss (I’d only been working under him for about a month at this point, having been transferred to a new sub-department) Sunday evening to let him know I’d be taking a half-day to go to the dump. I had just spent the weekend cleaning out the storage unit Jimmy and I used to share.

Monday morning, as I’m getting dressed (let’s say around 8:00) I get a call from Ashley telling me she popped a tire and is sitting in the Bank of America parking lot. She popped the tire by running over a curb at the bank to get money that wasn’t there, but instead in an account at a different bank. She didn’t know this because I forgot to tell her.

I had rented a van for the dump trip which (please note the foreshadowing) gets rented by the mile and was full completely to the top with all the trash from storage. I get in the van, thinking I can fix the tire, and then dump off the trash and return the van. I get halfway there and realize I left the lug wrench at home.

U-Turn, home, back to Bank of America.

When I get to Ashley, we clear out the trunk and start to get the tire changing kit out of the little compartment under the trunk. It has everything you need to change a tire. Except a jack.

Back in the van, out to the Hershberger residence to borrow a jack, back to Bank of America.

We get back to my wife’s car, which is an SUV. Jack in hand, I start taking out the spare. The spare is held underneath the car by a little cage that swings on a hinge, and a long bolt that holds the other side of the cage up. The short version of what happened is as I loosened the bolt, it pinched the tire against the hinge. So the tire is stuck between the cage and the bottom of the car. After fighting with it for nearly 45 minutes, I eventually climb completely under the car, lift the carriage with my feet and move the tire out with my hands. For the full effect of this visual to wash over you, you should know that I weigh about 250 pounds. I am covered in car grime at this point.

Around this time (oh, say aruond 10:30) my boss calls wondering where the hell I am and why I didn’t come to work today. He apparently hadn’t read my email yet. I explained the situation, and everything was fine, but I had a mild panic attack in the meantime. Before hanging up though, he wanted to make sure I came in for at least a few hours to discuss something (more foreshadowing).

Back to the car, I start lifting it with the Hershberger’s jack, only to realize that it (being meant for a Civic) isn’t nearly tall enough. In discovering this, I had extended the jack way higher than I should and the car (which I now realize is on a slight downhill grade next to a very steep, grassy hill and ends in the middle of a five-lane highway) rolls forward and crunches to the ground. How the car rolled forward with it in park and the emergency brake pulled still remains a mystery.

So now we’re off to Advanced Auto (still in the rented van) to buy a new jack. I go in and say “I’m looking for a jack.” The lady actually responds, with no humor of any kind, “There’s no one named Jack here.”

Sigh….

“No, a jack to lift a car.”

“Oh, they’re over there.” and walks away.

After searching in the area where she vaguely gestured, I found three options. A ratchet-style pair of lifts for “small cars” that’s about $40, a ratchet-style pair of lifts for “trucks and SUVs” for about $60, and a hydraulic jack for about $100. Not being made of money, and with the failure of the Civic jack fresh in my mind, I opted for the ratchet-style truck and SUV lifts. Back to Bank of America, where I immediately realize that the lift is too large to fit under our car.

Back in the van, back to Advanced Auto, return the lift, buy the $100 jack, back to Bank of America.

From here, I do essentially get the tire changed, though it’s worth noting that the slight grade meant that the entire process was handled in a state of utter terror that the car would slide off the jack, onto the hill and into traffic. I send Ashley on her way.

Off to the dump, which I’ve never been to. I look up the address on my iPhone, recognize the name of the road, and start driving to where I know the road to be. Except as it turns out, Pleasant Hill and Pleasant Valley are actually two entirely different roads. So after getting absurdly lost, I finally make my way to the dump only to be told/realize that I don’t have any cash to pay them and they don’t take cards.

Back in the van, back to Bank of America, back to the dump.

On the way, I get another call from my boss asking me where the hell I am. I think he can hear the near hysteria in my voice as my impending nervous breakdown really gets going in earnest. I explain my position, he’s very understanding, but says he REALLY needs to talk to me today. I make it clear that I’m doing the absolute best I can and will be in as soon as possible.

I get to the dump and spend about 45 minutes dumping all the trash fairly uneventfully, though I get yelled at by a dump worker for the way I backed the van up, even though it was exactly the way a different worker had told me to do it.

Finally, I leave the dump and go to return the van. The guy at the rental place asks me if I remembered to fill it up, which of course I hadn’t. They charge $5.00 a gallon to fill it up for me.

Back to the van, over to Sheetz, back to the rental place.

I finally return the van, which cost more than double what I had intended with over 100 extra miles on it. The irony of the rental guy’s exclamation of “Whoo, you drove this thing all over the place, didn’t you?” was not lost on me considering I had mostly just driven it back and forth across the same ten miles over and over again. I walked from the rental place to my wife’s work, which was part of the original plan, picked up her car and finally drove to work completely filthy and exhausted.

I entered my boss’ office, terrified of what horrors might await this gem of a day, and it turns out that what he’d been so eager to tell me is that he had wrangled an amazing promotion for me and I needed to sign some paperwork. My position was being turned into an administrative faculty position and I was getting a 12% raise. For context, there are two main classifications of non-teaching jobs at my university, and my status as staff was used to justify a lot of decisions that where, simply put, unjust and directed very specifically at me. And the raise is the first one I’ve ever received in nearly a decade of working here (not including cost of living raises that everyone in the University gets at the same time).So while it’s easy to be cynical here and try to say that it’s just about the money, but I was actually pretty genuinely touched by the gesture and thought behind it more than the money itself. After feeling extraordinarily unappreciated at work for about a year (for reasons I won’t go into here), it really speaks volumes about my new boss and is something that sticks with me at work to this day.

So, all in all, quite a day.

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While doing some research for a project some of you might be familiar with, I ran across this quote.

No one is funny in Tommy Boy. There are no memorable lines. None of the characters is interesting except for the enigmatic figure played by Rob Lowe, who seems to have wandered over from Hamlet.

I found this on the Wikipedia article on Tommy Boy. It’s from Roger Ebert’s review of the film. Now, I don’t think anything will top the extra strength delusional required for his “Videogames can’t be art because thery’re interactive.” idiocy, but this is near the top. No memorable lines? Really? Then what the hell have my friends and I been quoting for the last ten years? Rob Lowe? Seriously?

But you can say this about the man. When he’s wrong, he’s REALLY wrong.