human, being

Saab story
June 9, 2009, 11:44 am
Filed under: life, travel | Tags: , , ,

On Sunday afternoon, Steve and I decided to take the scenic route home from Sante Fe, driving up US 285. We had the top down on the Saab 9-3, and the beautiful New Mexico sky opened like a book above us. It was going to be a beautiful drive home. The iPod was cranked with Coldplay. I had my sunflower seeds and Diet Coke, the quintessential traveling fare. The views were gorgeous.

Steve punched it to get around a pokey car in the right lane as we made a slight climb.

CLUNK. The engine began to chug.

Not good. We saw a sign for the next town: Ojo Caliente, 5 miles. We shuddered our way into “town,” and pulled into the parking lot of a diner-slash-motel. Steve inquired within about the closest large town. The answer, Santa Fe, an hour and half behind us, or Pueblo, three hours ahead of us … if we can drive 65. Which we couldn’t.

Steve called for roadside assistance and learned that his plan includes only 15 miles of towing. Craptastic.

With hope that we could limp back to Espanola, a small town about 30 miles south and find a mechanic in the morning. we turned around. And saw the sign, a beacon in the wilderness: Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Spa. Somehow, I convinced Steve that staying at a spa overnight might be better than staying as some Norman-Batesish roadside motel. And besides, since there are NO COINCIDENCES, we were meant to stay at a spa that night instead of sleeping in our own bed 300 miles away.

After telling the desk attendant our sob story, she found a room for us (at a discount, just $133 including tax). Steve said we might as well get massages since we were there, and there happened to be two openings at 6 pm. I could tell he was panicking. He hates massages, and he knows I love them. We made reservations for dinner at the on-site restaurant at 7:45 and made our way to our room.

Now, Ojo is an historic site, first discovered by the Spaniards in the 1600s. And the hotel room? It was built around the same time and had never been remodeled. But beggars can’t be choosers, and we didn’t feel like dropping an extra $150 for a “cottage.” And by we, I mean Steve because he was paying.

The massages were wonderful (I got the semi-happy-ending version, which included a deliciously wonderful pectoral and abdominal massage). We sat in the mineral springs afterward, then hoofed it to the restaurant for what was a very mediocre dinner with awful service. (We had piss-poor luck in the cuisine realm on our trip, with the exception of our first exquisite dinner at Geronimo, which I’ll blog about later). Later, we  tried to have sex but our room was on the main flight pattern from the restaurant to the hotel, and there’s a transom window above our door that wouldn’t close all the way, and a gap at the top of the door, which was also warped and didn’t close all the way. Sigh.

After a stiff night’s sleep on a horribly uncomfortable bed, we had another mediocre meal in the hotel restaurant and tried to deal with the car. I finally got through to my dad, who Googled some auto repair shops in Espanola for us. None of them could work on Saabs. Although the guy at Lopez Auto was “willing to give it a try, even though I just had back surgery and I’d have to, like, supervise one of my friends.” Yeah–no. So my dad found a Saab dealer in Santa Fe and googled the directions for us. Mydad ROCKS.

Steve’s Saab is named Sid. Why, I don’t know. Sid was an abused child, and apparently Steve has learned over the past 11 months of owning Sid that he does not respond to kindness. Sid wouldn’t start until we called him a motherfucker at least three times. We kept it up as Sid sputtered and gasped all the way to Santa Fe. We had a few close calls at stoplights. Steve put Sid into neutral and we told him that was was NOT GOING TO FUCKING STALL OUT ON US YOU ROTTEN BASTARD. And he didn’t.

We finally chugged into Santa Fe and pulled up in the Saab dealership’s parking lot. Which was empty. As was the building. The dealership was gone.  I was already on my last pair of clean underwear, and Steve’s ability to stay calm under pressure kept them that way. We discovered from the inattentive Saturn mechanic that it had merged with the Chevy dealer across the street.

“You want to know something funny?” the Chevy service center guy said. “We’re the Saab dealer, but we don’t have a Saab mechanic.”

“I think I missed the punchline,” Steve said. I almost started crying. I pictured us begging with signs on the side of the road for a ride to Denver. I pictured Sid, dead in a junkyard. Then the Chevy dealer directed us to the only specialized Saab repair shop in New Mexico, which was across the street. We were getting to know Cerrillos Ave. pretty well.

We shuddered into the repair shop’s parking lot and stumbled into the office, where a pretty brunette woman with a strong New York accent was talking on the phone. This is Patty, and she is a bitch. Really. I mean, sometimes I can be a bitch, but bitch is her nature. She and her husband are Saab fanatics. He is her god. I bet she screams Saab when she comes, and so does he. But they are good at what they do, and they were nice enough to sneak Sid in and tell us the following:

  1. We were running on 3 cylinders (out of 4)
  2. We had broken a piston
  3. The water pump was broken
  4. The oil thermostat was broken
  5. One of the transmission mounts was broken
  6. Sid was undrivable
  7. Sid wasn’t silver, he is STEEL GRAY (and we are losers because we didn’t know that)
  8. They couldn’t fix Sid for two or three weeks. They were JUST THAT BUSY AND IMPORTANT.
  9. Someone (insinuating us) had abused poor Sid, feeding him shitting fuel (“We prefer Shell, because it’s CLEANER.” “Using less than 91 octane is poisoning your Saab.”) and not doing his scheduled maintenance.
  10. Denver is “up there” not “down there,” and just drop their name because everyone in the Saab world knows it, and it might get us special favors. Perhaps blow jobs. But maybe just rolled eyes.
  11. The total minimum cost to repair Sid: About $2300

So I cried. And Patty got a little nicer. Although I started crying after saying, “I hate this fucking car. We never should have bought it,” and her God the Saab Mechanic said, all offended, “Would you say that to your CHILD?” To which I started to reply, no, because my child is a human being not a stupid cocksucking automobile who is going to cost us more than we both have open on our credit cards to fix, but Steve stopped me with a look. Because these crazies had our immediate future in their hands.

Wait, did I mention that about 60 days ago, Steve purchased an extended warranty for Sid from US Fidelis? I rolled my eyes at him at the time because those policies are rip-offs and never cover anything.

Except, everything that is wrong with Sid is covered (if we take it to a dealer–they won’t pay at a non-ASE-certified shop, even if it’s a certified Saab repair facility and has been in business for 22 years). EVERYTHING. For a $100 copay. And it gets better, because his policy covers:

  • $75 a day of trip interruption, meaning that nearly all of our spa visit would be reimbursed
  • a rental car for a week
  • The first 15 miles of towing, and our car insurance policy covers $100 as well

Towing the car 300 miles was going to cost us about $800, BUT bitchy Patty had a great idea: Ship the car to Denver using a wholesale shipper. Right now we’re waiting to hear when it will arrive at the Denver Saab dealer–at a cost of about $250. Of which about $150 will be reimbursed.

Avis picked us up at about 2:30 in a lovely Ford station wagon, which we pegged all the way home to Denver. We ate crap food (mmmm Frosties) and had a really great conversation on the way. We got home last night around 9:30, after stopping by Laurel’s 40th birthday party (happy birthday honey!) and borrowing her husband’s car so we could drop off the one-way rental and pick up a new car later today. (one way rentals are about $180 a day, and we didn’t want to wait to get reimbursed for a grand.)

Sid is still an asshole. But deep down, we think he’s a good guy because he didn’t leave us on the side of the road in bumfuck New Mexico with no cell service.

Oh, and by the way, those warranties don’t kick in until you’ve put 1,000 miles on the car post-purchase and it’s been 30 days. Without the road trip, we wouldn’t have made the mileage requirement and all $2,300 plus the towing and the spa and the crap food and the rental car would have all been on us.

It’s a happy ending after all.