Tag Archives: Driving

Dad’s Wrecked Car Wrecks My Week

I would like to say I would’ve had a blog post out in the last week if the week itself wasn’t so damn shitty. I’m probably lying to myself here. My motivation is still at an all-time low.

I can probably get something posted Friday. Oh wait, no I can’t, because Friday is going to suck ass like every other day this week. If I’m going to churn anything out it has to be finished now. Thursday. Today was a hot day, I’m mentally and physically destroyed, and writing anything now feels like a chore. Scheduling a post also means EDITING! which is the worst part of writing by far.

Two weeks ago my dad was involved in a car wreck. I’m not sure of the details, but someone in front of him was turning right, so he slowed down like a good driver. The guy behind him, sadly, wasn’t paying attention and rear-ended my dad. This caused Dad to slide into the person in front of him leading to a three-way fender-bender. It wasn’t really a big deal; despite him being hit by a big-ass SUV in the rear, his car took the least amount of damage of the three. The guy behind him? Car was fucked. (He was younger, his mom showed up, and according to my dad she was not pleased with him. He had the worst day of three by far, not even considering his damaged car…) Lady in front of him? Car: fucked. Dad’s car doesn’t have anything to hint that he was slammed into another car, just a tiny scratch or dent on the front if you really pay attention. Most importantly no one was hurt.

(His tank of a car, by the way, is a 2006 Chevy Cruise. If you’d like your next high-mileage used car to be impervious to damage, look into the Cruise.)

I looked at his car the following day and it was fine. Cosmetic damage to his trunk and bumpers but the car itself was fine. All the doors worked. The thing drove okay. Nothing of functional importance was harmed at all. He asked me my opinion on what he should do about the car: ignore the wreck or make an insurance claim? Dad doesn’t have a job, can’t afford shit, and is waiting on Social Security to either approve or deny his benefits/payments/whatever they’re called. In short, I told him to not worry about it. Cars are meant to get you from point A to point B, his car still did this, so why even worry about it? Insurance probably wouldn’t do shit about it anyways…

He didn’t take my advice (big surprise there). He made an insurance claim which was itself a pain in my ass. My sister and I have a deal where we pay for his insurance and split the bill. When I set this up I put everything in my name. My email, my phone number, with only his name on the policy. It was easier to do it that way. Since his insurance claim involves him he should ideally be the guy dealing with the insurance company. Since they’re unaware of my impromptu setup (we didn’t think he’d ever actually make a claim), they’ve been blowing up my phone trying to contact my dad. Emailing me and me having to relay the email to him and calling me so I can call him and tell him to call them back. They miss his call and call me back. It’s my own fault — I even said so when I replied to their email giving them his actual contact information — but it’s still a pain in the ass to deal with.

I was wrong about his claim by the way. They did not do jack shit; in fact they decided to total his car and write him a check for $6,075. Holy hell! I was certain I put him on liability insurance; where did all the money come from? It didn’t make sense to me at all, but hey, I’m not a hot-shot insurance worker. Apparently this makes perfect sense to them. They grabbed his car last Thursday.

(We use Metromile. They’re a pay-per-mile insurance provider fitting for my dad, who logically, shouldn’t drive that much at all. I own 200 shares of Metromile (MILE) and was tempted to sell them when I found out about the massive payout to him for insignificant cosmetic damage. Was this company really the one I should be investing in?)

And here’s where my trouble really begins. It was easy: dad gets his check, we get him a new car. Nope, life is never that easy.

Since Monday was Memorial Day his check didn’t arrive until Tuesday. He also doesn’t have a bank account. I was to put the money into my bank temporarily. Okay. Tuesday was a trip to my bank so he wouldn’t have to pay a whopping $200 check-cashing fee. (I should open up my own check cashing place. A 3% fee to give people their own money? Hell…) Normally I deposit any checks I receive via my bank’s mobile app. Doing this with a check in his name might be a terrible idea, and I didn’t want to hold things up longer than I needed to. Dad is fairly independent and wants a car, so we’ve been trying to do this stuff as quickly as possible.

We went to look at cars (on Memorial Day) and that sucked. All the places were closed so we drove to those questionable used-car lots that are more numerous than I remembered (they’re everywhere) and shopped unhindered by pesky salesmen. He knew he couldn’t buy a car that day, but surely he’d find one that he liked. Nope. Buying a car is a big deal and isn’t as easy as deciding on a fast-food restaurant when hungry. It’s Thursday and he still doesn’t know what car he wants.

Since the cash is in my account, I’ll have to be involved in the car buying process as well, whenever that actually happens. Not really ‘involved — I’m not buying the damn thing — but he can’t really leave with a car until I write a check to the place, usually the last fucking step in the process. One more big hurdle before I’m free, but if we don’t pull this shit off tomorrow it’ll surely be a shitty weekend driving him around to wherever.

Today involved driving him to the smoke shop for tobacco and finding him a window AC unit. This whole fiasco occurred right before the first real heatwave of the year. He’s a bigger guy so he kinda suffers unnecessarily in the heat and needs an AC. Luckily, my mother-in-law had an older AC unit to give him; the errands were a bit easier because we didn’t have to buy him a new one from Menard’s or something. Hauling an AC unit around an hour after waking up isn’t a joy, but it’s better than going shopping.

Obviously I’m driving him everywhere he needs to go. He tries not to be a bother and I don’t mind helping, but it is getting old having that in my schedule to work around. My insomnia is still kicking my ass — I don’t sleep until 6 a.m. and try to be up around noon — and each day is a struggle to pound down as much coffee as possible and get out of the house to haul dad around. By the time I’m functional, I have a good two and a half hours to do stuff before going to work. Sometimes we’ll finish early, not early enough to go home but too early to go to work. Tuesday I was in the work parking lot 45 minutes before I had to start, just sitting and zoning out to music. I did get to see what time my coworkers pull into the parking lot which was mildly interesting. Some people get there really early, but who was I to judge?

Friday is a fun day because I go to work at 7 p.m. instead of 4 p.m.; I have all the time in the world before work to ‘be productive.’ Hopefully I can get something written but probably not though. Groggily awake at 12 p.m. Therapy at 2, hauling dad around to hopefully buy a car around 3:30 p.m., and how long will that take? Tomorrow is fucked. Saturday will probably be fucked as well. I know it’ll be fucked. I can predict the future: Dad won’t have a car yet and I’ll have to take him to get groceries or something. Sunday I’m hanging out with a friend (cool and all, but damn I’m dreading being social…), and maybe I should put a new belt on the lawn mower? And maybe I should weed the garden? And I need to go to the store. And I need to clean the cat litter. Those windows in my car really need to be cleaned — I haven’t washed them since fall — and the outside could stand to be washed as well. And…and…I’m sure there’ll be tons of time to write a blog post.

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Driving Sucks: The Boredom of Traveling

My sister had her gallbladder removed last week. It’s not a major surgery as far as surgeries go but it is removing a fucking organ so it’s kind of a big deal. Anyways, she’s off work because UPS (Yes, she also works at UPS. My dad worked at UPS. My cousin worked at UPS. My wife worked at UPS.) doesn’t want her working a week after having an organ removed. As I won’t shut up about this week, I’m on vacation. She always visits us so why not return the favor and visit her for once?

Davenport, Iowa is exactly two hours away from Rockford. My family likes to take I-39 to I-80 but if you look at a map this takes you unnecessarily south from the straight line distance. It’s wasteful and the highway is boring. I plotted a new route that is both shorter distance-wise, the same time-wise, has no tolls, and is half winding country roads and half interstate. I might be blowing this out of proportion but this route — my route because I ‘invented’ it — is the perfect way to drive from Rockford to Davenport.

I present to you Illinois Route 2 to Dixon and then to Davenport via I-88. Circle the quad cities to the north via I-80 and you’re there. The optimal route.

Don’t be fooled, “Best Route” is really like 1 hr 55.

About 20 minutes into the two-hour trip I was already pissed off. I hate driving. It’s boring. It takes too much attention but it’s not mind-challenging attention. It’s driving. You follow the lane. It’s just enough to keep you occupied but not enough to keep you entertained. Cruise control takes a bit of the bullshit out of driving but you still gotta follow those fucking lane lines! I imaged owning a Tesla and letting it drive you wherever you tell it to. I wouldn’t sleep but it would be nice to sit and think, enjoy the scenery and the music, and just exist without the distraction of having to constantly stay in your lane.

Illinois 2 is a beautiful road. It follows the Rock River southwest, and by following the river I mean it hugs it for major portions of the road. It’s windy, it’s wooded, and it’s picturesque. It’s a fun road to drive on. It’s not a mindless interstate filled with trucks and jackass drivers. It didn’t matter. Even 20 minutes of Il. Rte. 2 had me bored and this only became worse on the interstate.

60 mph is a good speed because it means you drive a mile every minute. It turns the road distance signs into time. 72 miles to Moline? 72 minutes: 1 hour 12 minutes. Sure we were going 75 mph, but the math is still close. 72 miles is nearly an hour. An hour on the flat, straight interstate surrounded by endless corn fields.

I remember my North Carolina friend and his recent trip back to Rockford. 15 hours, right? Something like that, it doesn’t matter. Once you’ve driven for 4 or 5 hours nothing really matters anymore. You’re zoned out and exist in some realm outside of everyone else. Just the road, traffic, and the sun slowly making its way across the sky. He drove this in a single shot and took four 15-minute naps when he stopped for gas. Fuck that. Fuck everything about that, it sounds awful. This is a scenario I image to be similar to hell. “Sit here tired and sleep deprived and follow the lane lines. For how long? For forever!” My North Carolina friend is apparently built differently than myself.

Music is nice and we listened to Green Day’s Dookie (one of the best albums of all time) and Insomniac. Even this wasn’t perfect as you gotta focus on the road and traffic! Music is best when you can listen to it without distractions; anyone who writes knows you can’t really listen to music without it turning into background noise. Even this minor pleasure was stolen from me as my Bluetooth thingy (it plugs into the 12 Volt outlet and broadcasts a radio signal to your car) kept fucking randomly cutting out. I eventually unplugged it and tossed it violently into the backseat when it cut out in the middle of London Calling.

The radio station was on some right-wing talk news channel when the Bluetooth shit out and I tried to listen to it for shits and giggles. Nope, it was infuriating. They were talking about aborted fetuses and how they’re used for scientific experiments and the condescending moral overtones to the whole thing made me uneasy. I vaguely understood how someone listening to that for a few hours each day would become radicalized and that was all the insight I needed to change the station. What did I change it to you might ask? Static. I listened to static because it was better than talk radio. After a few minutes my wife was sick of my radio static and found a proper radio station that was playing Somebody to Love by Queen. Thank God! I belted out the final verse or whatever and noted silently that Queen kinda sucks to listen to in the car. Freddy Mercury has such an intense and badass/beautiful/bombastic voice that you cannot sing along to their songs. You just can’t. It ruins the song. Queen forces you to sit there and listen to Freddy while you feel like shit at your own (lack of) singing abilities.

Green Day. Gun’s and Roses. Metallica. AC/DC. And so on. You know the deal.

My wife drove on the way back and being a passenger was nice for the first half hour, but then I was bored with that. Following those damn lane lines earlier was a pain, but at least it was something to do. As a passenger you just sit there and while it was nice to look around at the scenery we do live in Illinois; what the fuck is there to actually look at? It was also night so that didn’t help. I looked at the stars but as an astronomy nut I’m not too excited by stars anymore. I wanna see SpaceX satellites, the space station, galaxies and nebulae. I’ve seen the fucking big dipper plenty of times. Did you know the big dipper is next to the constellation/zodiac sign Leo? Yeah, after the car ride I was aware of it.

To wrap this all together, America is a huge country. If you look at our route from Davenport to Rockford you’ll notice it’s nothing compared to the country itself. It’s a tiny fragment of coast to coast. Two hours of mindless driving to go nowhere at all. California, Florida, Washington, so fucking far away. And it’s not even the entire US either, think of the entire planet; Earth is a big fucking place. 75 mph feels fast when you’re in a car but it is painfully slow.

I can’t help but think of the American pioneers covering the same land I was traveling, only they did it with wagons and horses. That had to be hell. What were they thinking? Or people that sailed across oceans on boats slightly bigger than our Honda Civic. What were they thinking? You also can’t forget the Native Americans and how they walked across the Bering land bridge thousands of years ago and populated both North and South America, all from walking. Sure they didn’t do this in a single lifetime and it was more of mass migration over centuries, but still they fucking walked the whole way. And here I am bitching about being stuck in a car for two hours complaining about how my Bluetooth thingy didn’t work right. I suppose it’s all about perspective. And these guys probably weren’t traveling for the sake of traveling, they were on an adventure with a greater purpose. And maybe adventures are more exciting than boring trips on an interstate. It’s not about the mileage and distance, it’s about the unknown. And driving cross-country in the US is not unknown at all. It’s mindless driving to places that people have already pioneered and built roads to. There is no adventure. I fucking hate driving.

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

The Davenport Trip Sucked

What to say about my weekend? Yes, it’s Friday — the weekend was literally like 5 days ago (or tomorrow) — but I’m still thinking about it. Processing it. Trying to figure out what it all meant. Not that it really means anything, but how do I think about it in a way to extract meaning, personal meaning, for myself?

I jotted down a quick post about having to wake up early and drive two hours to Davenport, Iowa to help move my sister out of her wife’s house. And her house too, but, well, you can see this was and still is a messy situation. Consider this post a continuation of that one.

I had quite a bit of emotional conflict on Route 2 between Rockford (where I live) and Sterling/Rock Falls where my wife and I would get on interstate 88 to continue on to Davenport, Iowa. I love helping people and I was on my way to help my sister move out of her soon-to-be-ex-wife’s home, but I didn’t feel good about it at all. Sure I was helping, but in this situation I didn’t want to help at all. The greater good in the world wasn’t being served by this and I hoped and wished that this never actually occurred. Why couldn’t they just work out? Why couldn’t she find True Love and just Be Happy?

I was sleep deprived and feeling really anxious about life in general. Total discomfort in the first twenty minutes of the two-hour drive. I wanted the day to be over, the adventure to be over, but it was just starting. I was on my way to help my sister move, and then I’d have to pull off another two-hour drive to get back home.

And what is it with adventure anyways? I always think I want adventure, some grand quest to go on, but whenever I find myself outside of my usual routine and comfort zone I become really uncomfortable. Maybe one of my values is daily routine where I have a safe zone to operate in, comfort, and even if I gripe about being bored, maybe boredom is where I truly belong. Maybe I’m not the adventuring sort after all.

I forced myself to slip into some faux-Buddhist mindset where I was accepting of the present. All discomfort comes from either focusing on the past or looking forward to the future, and I was totally looking forward to the future. I wanted to be home, to be bored, to play Dark Souls, to do nothing with my day, to be a total loser/failure, and outside of this I felt uncomfortable. I just wanted the day to be over, I thought at 10:30 a.m., barely a quarter of the way to Davenport. But I summoned some sort of acceptance of the situation, some semblance of comfort that, yes, this too shall pass. Before I knew it I’d be back at home with The Mission Accomplished and able to feel comfortable and safe. The present is hopelessly temporary and while this is bittersweet in regards to happiness it offers immense benefit when it comes to uncomfortable situations. I pressed on with the drive and tried not to think about the long day ahead of me.

Time passes in a strange way when you’re driving. It seems like time doesn’t move at all, but before you know it you’ve driven hundreds of miles over countless hours and you find yourself in the future. You’ve arrived. Through days and weeks and seemingly years of driving with time at a standstill it jumps forward and you find yourself there in the future which is the present.

She had all of her at her apartment and ready to be unloaded. It would be an easy assignment hauling her stuff up two floors which contrasted nicely with moving my mother’s literal truckloads of shit three times in two years. This wouldn’t be difficult at all. So we set out hauling boxes and furniture the short way up to her new apartment.

When that was done, we went and picked up a few tables from a local family. They were nice enough, and there isn’t much to say about that. Then we went to Target, my sister being focused on trying to figure out all the tiny and forgettable items that are essential to living on your own. Things you forget about until you notice you don’t have them. Trash bags, trash cans, toilet paper, brooms, soap, mops, and other items like that.

And then that was over. I agreed to take my sister’s cat from the house as she could only have one cat at the apartment. One issue here: we’d have to go back to her old house where her ex-wife/current-wife/whatever you want to call her and that sent my anxiety into overdrive. I hate awkward situations and I don’t know anything much more awkward than that. And it got worse! We turned the corner on the street the house was on, and her ex-wife’s girlfriend and two kids were also there. I started nervously laughing and saying, “Oh nooo, oh noo! Oh geez…Awkward. This is going to be so awkward,” as some form to cope with the situation.

Our new cat: BIGGIE! She’s a crazy and insane kitty, and probably the most bipolar cat I’ve ever had. Purring and loving the pets one moment and then clawing the hell out of you the next.

I hopped out of the moving van and walked behind the van to procrastinate a few more seconds before the inevitable awkward encounter that was about to take place. And…and probably because I was terribly nervous I don’t remember much.

My sister went inside the house while her wife was kinda a bitch about finally getting her shit and moving out. Her new girlfriend stood awkwardly outside while her kids acted stupid and loud like all kids do, totally aware of how fucked up the situation actually was. The ignorance of childhood: how everything is perfectly normal and fine. Nothing is strange, unusual or horrible. Just another day: mom moving in with some new girl she met and is in love with. No thoughts about how my sister’s life has been totally fucked up, her spirits crushed, and how everything is falling apart for her. Who is this girl who is sulking around, what is her story? I feel bad for those two children.

Everything was mostly civil besides the hositility my sister’s ex showed towards her. She was going to charge my sister for everyday that she was still there despite legally not being able to do so: they both legally own the house and are still married. And how if my sister didn’t give the keys to her she’d charge her until she gave the keys back, once again with no legal ability or leverage to do so. Just trying to kick my passive sister around some more. Just being a dick for some reason that isn’t clear to myself or my sister or my wife.

And those were some bad vibes to deal with. Seriously. I don’t understand how you can love someone, get married, buy a home, spend years together, and act so cold towards them. Let’s be clear here too: my sister did not cheat. She didn’t do anything obviously wrong. Her wife found someone else and is the one who fucked up. She is the cheater. Look, I understand people’s feelings can change and that maybe you can fall out of love with someone, but there seems like there still should be some decency or appreciation of the other person to not treat them worse than you’d treat a stranger. I think that’s what I struggle with the most here, how someone can disregard another human being in such a dramatic manner. No kindness, no honor, no love, no appreciation, just a total coldness that you’d treat a stray dog with.

On the way home I struggled with these thoughts. My wife demonized the ex as being a total selfish bitch, or other perfectly fine things to call someone who had done these things. But something still seemed off to me. I really think people act in ways they think are correct and that no one is evil for the sake of being evil. Selfish maybe, but not evil. In everyone’s mind I think they’re always trying to do the right thing for them and even if people do get stepped on, they’re still trying to do good or something. Despite her action, my sister’s ex, in her mind, seriously thinks she’s doing the right thing for herself. But what are those reasons? I tried to frame the situation in her mind and it still didn’t make sense. My sister hilariously pointed out this new girl isn’t even pretty or attractive, and as mean and as senseless as that is, she isn’t wrong. She’s maybe like a 2 or 3/10, seriously. I saw her in person so…! She apparently deals drugs too, so make whatever you’d like of that information. I’m all for the “entrepreneurial drive” or whatever, but drug dealing still seems, I don’t know, scummy? Dishonorable? She wasn’t dressed well either: tight, ill-fitting black pants that didn’t benefit her at all and a grey hoodie that said PINK on the front of it. Or something. She seems “trashy,” as harshly stereotypical as I’m being. Basically, she doesn’t appear to be “a catch” at least not as much as I view my sister to be. She works a full-time union job at UPS, doesn’t blow money, is nice and understanding — perhaps I’m biased — but my sister is in general a good person. I don’t see what is good about this new girl. Maybe she has the best personality or sense of humor ever, but I doubt it. If anything this new relationship seems like it’s doomed from the start, and the tiny bit of me that loves schadenfreude is pretty excited about stalking these two on Facebook over the next few years.

And that was my Saturday. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t bad either. It was nice to help a loved one escape a bad situation. To help them move on. I went home and had eight beers to process everything, and I just now came to some conclusion that isn’t much of a conclusion at all: the world is a fucked up place and sometimes you can’t make sense out of a damn thing, and oh why do I try to make sense out of everything? More bad vibes about how some things don’t make sense and I’ll forever be ignorant about life.

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