So far, this trip to Phoenix has been one clusterfuck after another and shows absolutely no signs of abating.
Before I even left Denver, my heart sank when I woke up and looked outside. After reading repeated weather forecasts for clear and sunny for the next ten days, it had snowed overnight.
If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you know I love the cold weather, but I absolutely hate driving in snow, and will refuse to do it if at all possible.
I didn’t have that option this time.
I got online and checked the traffic cams down I-25, and I was not reassured by what I saw. Some parts were clear, but many were snowy or covered in slush. As the sun came up, things started to look better, and by the time I finally left town at 10 am, the roads were virtually clear, and remained so all the way to my arrival in Albuquerque at 4:30 pm.
The car itself had me a little concerned. Yeah, it had just gotten new brakes, an oil change, and a thorough going-over by the friendly staff at MINI, but it wasn’t starting immediately like it used to. I wrote it off to the extremely cold temps, but when I attempted to move it nearby my room after checking in at the motel, it almost didn’t start.
Not wanting to be stuck in Bumfuck Arizona because I had to take a bathroom break on the next leg of my journey, I tracked down a replacement battery (thanks to help from Ben) at a local Walmart.
Little did I know this was going to be one of the the worst customer service experiences I’ve ever had. When I pulled the car around to the service bay, the tech told me it would be about 20 minutes. I went back inside and saw that the new battery had been pulled from stock and was sitting on the check-out counter. At that point, with only one guy on the register (the one who was supposedly taking the battery out to the shop after I’d pulled in), a steady stream of customers apparently decided that going to the front of the store to check out was too much trouble, and decided to take the “no waiting” approach in Automotive—including one woman with a full cart of groceries.
Then there were the three separate people who needed keys made. And the couple who wanted to audition car stereos. And about four other yahoos who simply brought their shit there to pay for.
All the while the battery sat on the counter.
Finally another tech came in from the service bay and walked over to the battery shelf and started scrolling through the electronic battery finder.
“Are you looking for the MINI Cooper?” I asked. Twice. “It’s on the counter.” Twice.
“I wanted to make sure it was the right one.”
Did I mention the not one, but two sets of parents who decided it was an excellent idea to drop off their kids in the Automotive waiting room (because they were showing Rango) while they went shopping?
So, what was supposed to have taken 20 minutes ended up taking about 90. Finally, the battery was replaced, and I was once again on my way, confident that this was going to be the last of it.
The motel in Albuquerque wasn’t bad. It was a Motel 6 right near the freeway and had been recently “updated.” It was quiet and reasonably comfortable, but the bedspread had several obvious fluid stains of unknown origin. I’m sure that if I’d brought my blacklight flashlight with me they would’ve lit up the room.
The car started right up the next day despite the frigid temperatures (I stopped to wash the dry snow-slush off the car from the previous day because I couldn’t see out the rear window) and the water froze onto the car before I had a chance to dry it off.
It warmed up as I continued the journey and I arrived in Phoenix at a balmy 60℉. The Motel 6 I was staying at in Phoenix (for a total of four nights) was not as nice as Albuquerque—not by a long shot. For starters, there was a prominent sign displayed at the check-in desk that stated there were to be no unregistered overnight guests, and if discovered, all parties concerned will be thrown out WITH NO REFUNDS.
Reminds me of a prison block in some twisted Sci-fi flick…
Because of the attitude I’d gotten from my sister, I didn’t call when I arrived; I simply texted her after I got settled. “I’m here. You have me until dinner time on Saturday. What’s the plan?”
She wanted to know where I was, and then to meet her at Dad’s place.
I asked for an hour or so to unwind before heading over, thinking that we’d meet there, go grab a bite to eat, and then head over to the care center to see Dad. An hour later she called and said she had finished eating and was leaving to head over to his mobile home.
Great. Now I had to find dinner before going over.
I grew up on this side of town, and I haven’t been gone from Phoenix that long, so I had a good idea of what my choices were for something easy and quick. Panda Express was the obvious choice since I was already growing weary of fast food.
It took four tries to get my debit card to scan.
I still managed to get to Dad’s place before my sister arrived, and I was appalled. I knew he hadn’t dusted since I’d briefly lived with him in 2002 upon my return from California, but I was unprepared for the episode of Hoarders I was walking into.
Okay, maybe that’s a little unfair. There was a clear path through all the rooms.
It turns out that only existed because my sister and brother in law had been in a week earlier and cleared it.
If I had any doubts about the need to get him out of that environment prior to coming back to Phoenix, they immediately vanished. It was no wonder he’s been suffering years of allergies and other sinus/nasal problems. I lasted all of a half hour before I started sneezing. Thankfully during that time my sister had arrived and we were soon on our way to the care center.
It was a bit of a shock to see him there. On the one hand, because of his surgery and subsequent diet of liquid and semi-liquid food, he’d lost about 30 pounds and looked good. On the other hand, I’d never seen the man looking so frail, and he didn’t immediately realize that I’d walked in with my sister.
But once he did, he was very happy to see me.
Since he’s basically in a rehab nursing home at the moment, the plan is to get him resettled in a permanent managed care facility. My sister needed me here mostly as another set of legs to get the necessary paperwork together to get him set up for ALTCS (Arizona Long Term Care System) like we’d done with Mom. After we finished our visit with Dad, we went back to his mobile home, where she gave me a to-do list of what she’d like me to help her with over the next couple days. It was nothing earth-shattering, but I felt kind of annoyed that this was all she wanted me to drive 700+ miles for.
The next morning, after getting dressed, I headed over to Starbucks to grab breakfast, and since I was in the neighborhood, decided to pop in and see some of my old team at my previous job. Only my boss was actually there, but it was great to catch up with him.
My next stop was my dad’s doctor’s office to sign all the paperwork to get a copy of his medical records sent to my sister. (We both have Medical POA.) From there it was to the VA to do the same thing. It was there I ran into the worst customer service ever. It’s a government agency. Should I expect anything less? The guy at the window was downright surly, but I got the request put in.
I headed to lunch at Honey Bear’s BBQ and then back over to the mobile home to begin cleaning and tossing stuff out.
(To be continued.)