I WILL TELL YOU #70: The Year That Didn’t Suck

I Will Tell You #70:
The Year That Didn’t Suck

Ever have one of those days that sucked so bad it was too depressing even for a country song? You know, one of those stereotypical girl-left-me, dog-ran-away, front-porch-toilet-is-clogged-again type songs.

Of course you have. We all have. If I may, I will tell you about one of my own recent ones.

It was a November day when I was working from home. A nice perk that I can routinely take advantage of for my day job. But that was as good as that day got, as I found out that morning when my furnace wouldn’t come on. One $269 emergency repair bill later, I was feeling the heat in more ways than one, when I get a phone call from the client who, as usual, needed some red hot important task done immediately, if not sooner. A task which now unfortunately required a trip to the office. One quick shower and change of clothes later, I was ready to head to work.

Until I went to brush my teeth, when one turn of the single handle faucet on the bathroom sink yielded an odd snapping sound which resulted in water spraying from the base of faucet in every direction possible. A massive spray that could only be shut off from below the sink, which I did amidst the second shower I now found myself taking.

OK, brushing my teeth can wait, I thought. And so will this repair. A hurried mop up and another quick change of clothes later, I walked out of the house, threw my laptop bag in the back seat, and started the car.

Which, halfway to work, started shuddering like one of those old coin-operated vibrating beds in a cheap motel every time I applied the brake. I made it to work OK, though, and took care of the client’s super-hot request, leaving the merely hot tasks sitting on the back burner so I could get my car looked at.

Now, experience has told me that when something unusual happens with a car when you apply the brakes, that it’s usually a problem with . . . the brakes. So imagine my surprise when the mechanic at Tuffy told me that it wasn’t the brakes at all, but instead that one of the control arms were shot, and had been part of a recall campaign from two years ago.

A recall campaign that I indeed did recall, because when I had taken my car in to the dealership to have it addressed back then, I was told that I was too late. And sure enough, in the literal fine print, I discovered that the recall only had a window of several weeks, which is rather unusual. But oh well, I thought. Nothing I could do, so I let it slide, and crossed my fingers hoping that nothing would ever come of it.

But, there I was at Tuffy, two years later, dealing with what had now come of it. The one thing in my favor was that the car was still under warranty, so I told Tuffy to hold off on any repairs until I contacted the dealer.

Which I did. Only to find out that, since this was a recall that was never serviced, it didn’t fall under the warranty.

Cleverly and deceitfully played, Pontiac. Screw you.

And, of course, since the repair involved a single part that was recalled and swapped out for an entire brand new control arm assembly, a simple replacement part was no longer available. And even if it were, it would have failed eventually, as this one did. So the only option was to buy the entire new control arm assembly. For both sides, as that was the only way they were available.

A whopping $689 later, I made it home from a mentally exhausting and budget busting day, and went upstairs only to be reminded of the cleanup that awaited me in the bathroom from the earlier faucet debacle. So I cleaned up the mess, and called the plumber to come out and fix the faucet.

But, it was too late in the day by this point for a plumber to come out. Which should have come as no surprise; after all, there was so much suckiness that can be fit into one day. However, I still had the majority of a day’s work to do for the client, so I worked into the evening and at the completion of the day, called it as such and went to bed.

And finally brushed my teeth; in the kitchen, if you were wondering.

The plumber, fortunately, was able to come out the next morning. Another $199 later, I got ready for work and headed into the office. And no sooner do I finally get there, when I get a call from my sister telling me that Mom had taken another fall at the nursing home. And that she knew nothing else at that point, regarding the extent of her injuries.

My heart sank to my feet, and I immediately left the office and headed to the hospital, fearing the worst.

Fortunately, the worst had not occurred. While she had indeed taken another fall, the worst of it was a cut and bruise near her eye. No stitches, or concussion, or internal bleeding, like the first time.

After imagining her with another head injury, or being in a coma, or even worse, I had never been so relieved by anything as I was by seeing her with no more than a small bandage next to her eye.

And in an instant, everything else seemed inconsequential. The deadlines at work, and the associated hours. The car repair. The fidgety furnace and suicidal bathroom faucet.

That was the kind of stuff I was stressing over?

We always say don’t sweat the small stuff, but never realize that we often make the small stuff into something bigger than it really is. And in turn, we sometimes forget what the big things truly are.

Work gets done, and deadlines get met. Things break, and get fixed. Whatever little challenges arise day to day, we deal with them. But yeah; in that moment where your car is making like a bucking bronco going down the Southfield freeway or you’re taking a jet of cold water in the face trying to shut off an errant faucet, the big picture isn’t exactly in focus.

So once I saw that Mom was going to be OK, that picture came back into focus.

The year had no shortage of bad episodes. Could I say this past year sucked? I could.

But it would be wrong.

Sunset in Ocean Beach, CA

Sunset in Ocean Beach, CA

In this year alone, I have stood on both shores of the greatest country in the world. I have visited some of its greatest cities, and while there participated in fun and revelry with some of my best friends, most valued colleagues, and the woman that I love who I am blessed to have in my life. And I have done so, free of illness, injury, or circumstance that would have otherwise prevented it.

Did 2012 suck?

Boston Harbor

Boston Harbor

Hell no, it didn’t. It was frickin’ awesome.

And so, I go into 2013, not with trepidation over the daily challenges it might bring, but instead with excitement over what opportunities and experiences might arise. And that excitement will give me the strength to deal with whatever next challenge does arise.

Even if I momentarily forget that while I’m hip deep in water trying to find the phone number for my plumber.

So Happy New Year, everyone. I’m looking forward to it.


About Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson (@quigonjimm) will tell you! He got a chance to write for the big boys at CBR, so we don’t see him around the site as much as we used to. Check out his stuff anyway!

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