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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Open Door Policy

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Friday January 4th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL/Nashville, TN

   It took four days for the first crisis of 2013 to pop up, and I’ll take that as a positive. It’s been a lot sooner in other years, so hopefully things are improving. I must say I didn’t fully expect it to pop up when it did, and of course it came at the most inconvenient time. That’s what a crisis is.

   I needed to get to Nashville today, and I got up at 3am hoping to make it through the rush hour of Chicago with minimal delay. There’s never a great time to go through downtown, as nastiness can ensue at any time. All it takes is one little incident or construction and it’s clogged for miles.

   Also, it doesn’t help living where I live, as getting to the Interstate is a hassle unto itself. I’m so far away that depending on when I leave traffic can be a nightmare before I ever get there. I have to be very careful when I make road trips, but I know it. I thought I had it all figured out. Wrong.

   I had my car warmed up and packed, but my driver’s door issue I thought was fixed apparently wasn’t and I couldn’t close my door. I was farting around with it for twenty minutes and it would not cooperate no matter what I tried. The latch just won’t work, and I’m totally helpless to fix it.

   I felt like ripping the damn door off the hinges after a few minutes of playing with it in the cold weather, but that wouldn’t accomplish anything. I needed to get to Nashville, and hadn’t planned on playing the surprise role of Mr. Goodwrench with a rusty screwdriver at 3:30 in the morning.

   To make it much more aggravating, there’s an automatic seatbelt that engages when the door is closed, and every time the door closes past a certain point it kicks in. Since the latch didn’t work, it kept sliding up and down over and over and making it a scene out of a movie. It would be very funny as a movie scene, but not today. Things like this are rarely funny while they’re happening.

   The only way to drive the car is to hold the driver’s door shut as I’m driving. Whenever I made a turn, the seatbelt would slide up and down like a gag reflex and vehemently remind me there is no such thing as a free car. I’m paying more for this one than if I’d bought a brand new Cadillac.

   A few days ago I noticed one of my headlights was out, but it’s only a loose wire and I’m able to hit it like Fonzie and it pops right back on. That’s happened a dozen times now, and one more hassle that’s not worth my time. This will make a funny comedy bit at some point, but not now.

   My only alternative was to wait for a rental car place near me to open at 7:30am. I hadn’t made a reservation, and all they had was a full size Mazda which was also full price. It’s going to suck a substantial chunk of my profit out for the week not to mention gas, but I didn’t have a choice.

   Welcome to the world of self employment. I took the gig in Nashville to pay bills and start out the year a little ahead, but now I’ll be lucky to be able to break even. One thing that little Nissan does is get great gas mileage, and when I can get the door to stay closed it really runs extremely well. I’m still very grateful to my friend Richard for giving it to me, but the costs of both money and frustration are making me have second thoughts. Too bad life doesn’t allow any Mulligans.

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