Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Something A Little Bit Different

So, lately, I've been wearing my hair like this.  And a goodly number of people are asking me how in the world I do it.  I always tell folks that it's super simple.

It really is!

But it is kind of hard to explain without actually doing the entire process in front of you, sooooo, I made a video.


Three things:

  1. At 0:28, I sound like this perfect little homemaker that just, you know, throws together a dress here and a headband there - no big deal.  Actually, no.  I am not one of those people.  Someday, I hope to be, but, as of today, I have one home-made dress and one home-made headband to my name.
  2. At 2:43 and 3:59, I did, in fact, continue to make one or two more loops, but I was just boring and quiet, so I cut those sections out for the final edit.
  3. Despite all appearances to the contrary, I am wearing shorts in the second section.  I promise.
Let me know what you think!  Do you want to see more videos around here?  Is it absolutely horrible and painful to sit through?  Did it help you learn something new?  Were you totally confuzzled by the end?  I want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth...

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Tale of Three Tires

I have never been the kind of girl who is particularly comfortable with car maintenance, so, from the time that I knew my car needed new tires, it was at least a month, if not two months, as well as at least 4 phone calls to my dad, before I got it into the tire shop.

I'm sort of embarrassed to admit this, but I also pulled into the parking lot and sat in my car for about ten minutes, observing my surroundings, then left, at least twice before deciding to brave it.

I'm sure part if this has to do with the fact that I had really just gotten comfortable with my other mechanics before I decided to up and move, and now, here I was at a new place, and feeling very small and gullible, and insignificant.

However, I did finally make it into the tire shop one lovely friday.  I came in very confident, asked all the right questions, had a super-helpful-customer-service-guy assist me, and got my car in to replace the rear tires.

The paper-work at the end of my visit was a breeze, and I left feeling totally confident and much better about vehicle maintenance in the future.

Then, on the following Tuesday, I got into my car, and it gave me a low pressure warning for one of my tires.  I got out, checked on them, and found the culprit - the right rear tire - it was at 20 psi, while my tires were all supposed to be at 35 psi.  I assumed that the folks at the tire shop would have aired up the tires to the proper pressure when they first installed them, so there could be no reason the pressure in this one would be this low already, except that there was a problem of some sort.

Basking in my new-found confidence, I immediately called the tire shop, and explained the situation (including the fact that I had just purchased the tires) to the guy who answered the phone.  he said something along the lines of "No.  There shouldn't be any problems.  You can just take it anywhere and air up the tires, then keep an eye on them; but if you really want to, I guess you can come in and we'll air it up for you."

That was not exactly the answer I was looking for...

So, of course, I called my dad and asked him what he thought I should do.  I also mentioned a squeaky sound I'd been hearing, and he recommended I take it in and have them look at the tires and the belt.

So, of course, that's just what I did...

I walked in, and, when it was my turn (they were pretty busy) I began to explain my situation to the-man-at-the-counter.  He literally interrupted me mid-sentence and said "Are you the one that called earlier?" COMPLETE WITH AN EYE ROLL.

I maintained composure and said "Yes" in my sweetest voice, adding that there was also a squeaky belt I would love for them to look at if they had the time.

He said "Yeah, sure, just pull your car around to the back of that bay right there." Then turned to the next person in line and began talking to them.

That was that.  I was not very appreciative of his idea of customer service, and wished very much for super-helpful-customer-service-guy to come to my rescue.

There was nothing for me to do but pull my car around to where he had indicated, so I did, and waited, since I had received no further instructions.  After about 5 minutes of waiting, and being approached by absolutely no one, I went back into the tire shop, and waited in line for my turn.

When I got up to the counter, I said "Hi.  I pulled my car up, and didn't know what to do next."
He interrupted me again with "Just wait a minute," and again turned to the next customer in line.

At this point, I was beginning to feel very much not valued in this place, but I stepped to the side, and waited patiently.

A moment later, a man poked his head in the door and asked the-man-at-the-counter if he could help out in any way.  The-man-at-the-counter (looking very relieved) said "Yes!  Just go check the pressure in her tires over there," waving his hand in the general direction of my car.  The other man headed out the door, and I began to add that there was a squeaky belt situation, but he was already beyond ear-shot.  The-man-at-the-counter added, in a normal tone (without bothering to open, or even turn toward the door through which the other man was already completely gone) "Oh yeah, and check on her belt."  He completed this incredibly unhelpful addendum with a shake of his head, as if to indicate that I was being utterly ridiculous and demanding...

At this point, I may or may not have just stormed out of the door to take matters into my own hands, since the-man-at-the-counter was apparently not at all interested in actually being helpful to his customers.

I was so upset, I literally had to stop outside the door to compose myself before going around to the bay.

Fortunately the man who had offered to help was much more kind and helpful.  He even checked all of my tires to make sure they were at a uniform pressure, and was happy to look at the belt when I told him about it.

Of course, the belt didn't make a noise when I turned the car on for him, and fortunately it hasn't made a sound since.

The tire, on the other hand, was an entirely different story.

The real reason I had finally decided to get the new tires was because I was about to do a whole lot of driving: the following weekend, I home based at Camp Tejas (staying in a beautiful, newly re-modeled motel room, by the way), and travelled to Austin for a wedding on Friday, then to San Antonio for a graduation on Saturday.

Well, Friday was lovely, and Saturday was lovely, until we were leaving the graduation.  No sooner had I gotten settled into the far left lane of traffic on the San Antonio loop, than I suddenly saw the truck in the lane on my right run over something and send it toward my car.  I had no time to react, and before I knew it, I definitely had a flat on my right rear tire.

I'm truly thankful for three things:

  1. It wasn't a blow-out
  2. I was able to maintain my composure as I pulled across all three lanes of traffic, into the shoulder, and off onto a road which looked little-used
  3. Sarah's boyfriend was in the car, and was able to help us with changing the tire

Also, Baby Sister (who's learning to drive) and another friend of hers who is also learning to drive were in the car, so we got to have a little tire-changing lesson, which was fun, apparently...

As Sarah's boyfriend was putting on the spare, Sarah and I inspected the damage.

There was a good-sized gash in the side-wall, where, presumably whatever-it-was had just hit the tire.  And, wouldn't you know, there was also a screw imbedded in the tread of that tire.  As you may recall, this was the tire that was lower than all my other new tires, and which the tire shop so begrudgingly aired up for me, without inspecting it at all...

Once we were set with the spare, which was in desperate need of some air, we hobbled to the nearest gas station for air, and onward to the nearest branch of my tire store, which was actually something like the swankier, higher-end version, owned by the same corporation.

At this point, I was (understandably?) more than a little upset, and stormed into the store with slightly less confidence than last time, and much more need to feel vindicated.

I was almost immediately greeted kindly by a man behind a counter.  Before he even greeted me, though, I noticed three things:

  1. This store smelled nice
  2. People smiled here
  3. There was prominent signage indicating everything you could need while you were waiting for your car

I began explaining our situation to the kind man behind the counter, perhaps too eagerly, as he kept calmly asking me to wait until his computer could catch up with the information I was giving him.

The tire was, unfortunately, clearly beyond repair, and was definitely going to have to be replaced.  The first thing he said to me when we realized this was, "It appears that you did not purchase a warranty on this tire..."

You guys.  My jaw probably hit the floor, and this is why:

Back when I was originally purchasing the tires, during the "breezy" paper-work process at the end, I had paused to question a section where the super-helpful-customer-service-guy asked for my initials.  I don't remember what it said, but I distinctly remember asking him something along the lines of "This says something about discussing a warranty with you, and I don't remember doing that..." and him responding with something like "Oh, that isn't really related to your purchase today."

Turns out, I had initialed a spot that said that I had been given paper-work regarding a warranty, and made an informed decision not to purchase it, when really, none of that had happened, and I certainly would have purchased that warranty if given the chance.

That warranty being an eleven dollar purchase that meant they would cover the entire cost of a new tire if mine was damaged as a result of road hazards.

Yes.  You read that right.  No wonder they weren't particularly interested in selling it to me.  You can imagine my thoughts at this moment were not particularly kind toward previously-considered-super-helpful-customer-service-guy.

Well, the current, kind man behind the counter gave me one look, without actually hearing any of that story, and said he would cover the cost of a new tire for me, just because.

I'd like to think this was because I looked like a customer-demanding-vindication-for-wrong-doing, but Sarah's boyfriend said it was because the kind man behind the counter had a crush on me...

Either way, I felt a little bit better about my life, and made sure I got a warranty on my new right rear tire.

And friends, the saga continues...

The first chance I got after coming back into town, I went to my tire store to demand nicely ask that they warranty my tires as atonement for their past wrong-doing since there had been some sort of glitch in the process of informing me about the warranty at the time of my original purchase.

I hope you guys believe me that I really was on my best behavior in the tire shop, regardless of how really indignant I was on the inside.  I'm a Southern girl.  We don't lose our cool in public...

Anyway, I went in, and who should be inside but previously-considered-super-helpful-customer-service-guy and the-man-at-the-counter?  Yes.  They were both right there.

The-man-at-the-counter was apparently busy, so previously-considered-super-helpful-customer-service-guy, who seemed to not remember me, asked how he could help.  I began to tell the nicest version of my story that was possible while not excluding any important details (including the screw in the tire), ending with the request to go ahead and have a warranty for the tire, which I had already driven around for a week and a half or so.

At about the point in my story where I came back with low pressure in one of my tires, the-man-behind-the-counter began edging toward us, evidently remembering me.

Next thing I know, previously-considered-super-helpful-customer-service-guy turns to the-man-behind-the-counter and asks if it's possible to do what I'm asking.  And before previously-considered-super-helpful-customer-service-guy is even done with his question, the-man-behind-the-counter says "Of course we will.  I am so sorry that happened, ma'am."

You guys.  The-man-behind-the-counter was the manager of this store.  The MANAGER!

I'm telling you, it was all I could do to keep a straight face.

I mean, what?

He promptly took over the conversation and was SO polite and helpful, but, by this point, I was totally over everything about this store.  Of course, I was polite in return, and gave positive one-word-answers to his attempted small-talk instead of glaring daggers, but, really, I was truly done.

When he was almost done processing the warranty, he started telling me excitedly that they were soon upgrading to a store like the one I went to in San Antonio, and by the time I needed my next tires, the upgrade would be finished.

Guys, I'm super ashamed of this, but my first thought was "Well, I hope they'll upgrade the management too!"

Of course, being a sweet, Southern girl, I gave him two true words - "That's wonderful!"

Well, if the upgrade is indeed done by then, maybe I'll give them a second chance...