Friday, September 25, 2009

September 25, 2009: The Wheels on My Bus Go Round and Round...Unfortunately

Well, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the CTA Bus broke. The bad news is that it is now fixed and ready for pick-up at the repair shop. C'est dommage!

I had high hopes for this break-down. After receiving a text from Andrew early one morning that stated the car's engine "broke" while he drove it to the train station in Caen, my dread quickly turned to excitement as visions of tiny commuter cars danced through my head. Bye bye to 10 minute parking sessions in our apartment parking lot. Bye bye to close calls as I dodge through tiny French villages on streets the width of a hallway with a car the size of a driveway. Bye bye to the nasty looks people give me - I think they are just annoyed by the look of my car and I cannot blame them. Heeellllloooooo economy car!

When I got to the train station, I met up with the Renault mechanic who came to diagnose the situation. He started the car and it purred like a kitty, happy as a clam. He said it was fine. Oh, dread, I thought. So I said he should drive it around the block (as I didn't really know what a "broke" engine would sound like and Andrew was travelling and unavailable to tell me what specifically happened). I jumped in and had a nice leisurely drive around Caen with my Mechy (aka. mechanic). The car drove perfectly. Lovely, I thought.

Not giving up hope, I waited patiently as he looked around the car for any other signs of possible problems that Andrew may have experienced. Obviously, a full account of the circumstances from Andrew would have been helpful. I mean, I couldn't have verbalized the problems to the Mechy, as my French car repair vocabulary is non-existent, but I could have at least drawn him a picture! I could have even made him a hama bead depiction of the problem - that would have been more helpful than him just having to walk around the car guessing at a problem and cursing this silly american woman under his breath. He was about ready to leave when he noticed something. Yes! A problem! I knew there was hope! It was the Service light on the dashboard. And the airbag light would not go off. Mechy tried to fix it and I was elated when his attempts were unsuccessful.

Mechy told me I must make an appointment to come into the garage and get the car fixed. I told him I thought it should be fixed right away - I have three children and last I checked a broken airbag = broken head and body in the case of an accident. So, he talked to his people and they agreed. Must be fixed right away. So you know what this guy did? He towed my big, fat CTA bus. Guess how long it took him to hook up my car for towing? 2 minutes tops. And he towed my car with a car almost identical to mine. Have you ever seen a car get towed in the United States? It's more time consuming and complicated than solving a rubix cube. Hooks, bolts, gears, levers, hydraulics - it's ridiculous. And then they charge you $150 for all the effort. Here, Mechy literally lowered a tiny platform to the ground that had two spaces for the wheels of the car to roll onto and then we were off. In the United States, this would have been quit a doozy of a tow, a big production. I was amazed. And elated at the prospects of one less CTA bus on the road...forever.

I rode to the Renault dealership with Mechy where I sat with nothing to do (my phone was even dead) while they tried to fix my car for about 3 hours. Clearly, they were stumped. For sure they thought this would be a quick fix. Around 3:30 p.m. they finally gave me a rental car to take home for a couple of days. This was going to take a few more heads and a few more hours to figure out. I got into my nice 5 seater Renault Kangroo and fell in love with this tiny, yet roomy car. My happy little family would fit nicely in this car. I hoped and prayed for a fault in my car that would require a recall of all major 10 seater passenger vans immediately. Surely, all other owners of similar CTA buses are looking for the same help. And I wanted to keep my new Kangroo.

I parked this new little car like a champ in our parking lot. Shop owners and residents who share this parking lot were surely watching with happiness, as they thought I had a new car. They would no longer have to fret about their cars getting sideswiped or scratched each and every time I pull in and out of the lot. The girls voted that we should keep this car, they like it very much. Andrew agreed. It was like we got a new pet - a cute little puppy that the whole neighborhood saw and liked immediately for their own different reasons. And then our new little pet had to be returned because of one reason or another and all they could give in exchange was a big, smelly pet cow. I pulled into the parking lot this afternoon with my newly repaired cow. Neighbors were peering out their windows, wondering where the cute little puppy went. And then they figured it out. Puppy was borrowed until fat, smelly cow was milking, again. Bummer.

On other fronts, everything has been going well here. Andrew has been in Manchester and Brussels this week for work, hopefully getting some new customers or reassuring some old ones. Grace and Mia began going back to First Babys School. Just on Wednesdays when school is out and for half a day. I tried to find classes to sign them up for but they just don't know enough French yet to understand and be good participants and they also hare terrors together. So First Babys School, I am hoping, will do some good work with them on their French speaking. Ella has started a drawing/painting class in the mornings on Wednesdays and a dance class in the afternoon. Her first week at these classes were great! My last goal is to try and get all three of them signed up for a sport, maybe on Saturdays, but we'll see.

Personally, I have started going to Power Plate sessions with a friend of mine. She knows a woman who owns a studio (this is my friend that I run with) so she asked if I wanted to give it a try. Now, it is really hard to explain this Power Plate thing. And the Kate Jury is still out on whether she believes it has any power to help her path to a fit body. But in the meantime, while I decide, it certainly is interesting. The best way I can explain it is that you do all of your exercises on a platform that vibrates a million times a minute. It supposed to stimulate your muscle fibers or something, more than any exercise you would do without vibrations. All I know is, my brain feels like I am putting it in a Cuisinart at some points and my teeth might very well vibrate right out of my jaw. Google this, if you haven't heard of Power Plate before.
Also, I have started a weekly tennis lesson with a group of women. Today was our second gathering and I think it is going to be a lot of fun.

Other than that, nothing much new. My sister's family is on it's way, as we speak, to Denver, Colorado. My brother-in-law took a new position with his company and how happy is my family that they will now be living in Denver? Pretty darn happy. When we get back to Crested Butte permanently I see a lot of road trips taking place between our two homes.

This weekend Andrew and I got invited to a party and guests are supposed to wear wigs. So tomorrow, Grace and I are going to go on a hunt for funny wigs. We are also going to go pick out glasses for Grace finally.

Next week, Ella starts swimming lessons with her school. They will go once a week for a few months and she is very excited. That's it for now!


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