Farewell Fofo

I haven’t really written in a long time, but in celebration of the fact that I once again have a home office, and that I was actually productive, or at least semi-productive in it today, I thought I should try writing. Things have been nuts since oh, October. My hours at my not-real, not-grown-up, not-full-time job were horrible.  I was desperately wondering how I would be able to give any money to Mr. X as a token for November rent.  Magically, by the grace of God (the only way besides Jerry-rigging that anything ever happens in my life anymore), I got 50 hours of work in Tulare County.

I had to beg my parents for money so I could get an oil change and replace the PVC hose on my car. The check engine light had been on for over a month, but I couldn’t scrape together $250 to get it fixed.  I still couldn’t afford to replace my back tires which were nearly bald, even though I’d just gotten them before I moved back to California and they had less than 30,000 miles on them. I didn’t even have money to get 3 new pairs of socks for doing survey. My sock situation was pretty bad, but I survived a week of survey in the Southern Sierra by using my good socks the first two days, and then switching out to thicker insoles to wear with worn-out, too thin-for-hiking-anyway socks.

Additionally, in order to do that, I had to reschedule a field review meeting in Shasta County, which had already been put off due to people dying and such. Bless the departed.

I get back from Tulare late one Friday evening and the field review meeting is scheduled for Monday. I decide since I have left over per diem money that I need two new tires and new wiper blades for winter.  We’re about to get our first storm of the season.  I have them put the new tires on the front and rotate the older, but still serviceable tires to the back. I’ve always been told this is what you do with front wheel drive cars when you can’t afford to replace all four tires at once, so you don’t spin out or get stuck in the snow.

I am apprehensive about going out on Monday because I hate driving 299 in the rain, but the snow levels are supposed to be above 5,000 feet. I’m like, “Okay. I have people coming up from Davis, and this has already been put off for far too long.”  I’m driving out, thinking about how my car is in it’s death throes and how it would be virtually impossible for me to scrape together even $1,500 to replace it, but if I could, what would I get? I never liked that car.

Bwhahaha, so turns out snow levels were way below 5,000 feet. Turns out I do not have my chains in the trunk, because I hadn’t fully switched into winter mindset yet. Mind you it was over 90 degrees on my drive back from Tulare the Friday before. I’m leaving Burney and there is fucking thundersnow. Thundersnow! I am like, “Wow! This is going to suck. I hate driving in snow. I really hate driving in the mountains in the snow.” 

I’m getting up to Hatchet Peak. I see a Caltrans sign for chain restrictions, there is a semi-truck jack-knifed at the summit, and only one lane is open. My defroster is beginning to fail. I am looking for a place to pull over and see if I can wait out the heaviest precipitation, get my windows to clear up, and get in behind a plow. There is no safe place to pull off, so I continue making my way down from Hatchet. The person in front of me decides to start going under 10 miles an hour after seeing the truck jack-knifed. More and more and more cars begin to pile up behind me. I can see that going 55 or 65 would be pretty stupid, but this is an inch or maybe 2 of slushy snow. I’d gone between 40 and 50 coming from Fall River Mills to Burney and felt in control going around all the crazy curves. Eight miles per hours is equally dangerous I think. I’m so irritated this person can’t find a place to pull off to let people pass.

By the time I get to the next straightaway where there is not on-coming traffic in the opposite lane, I go to pass Pokey Little Puppy, and moderately accelerate to just under 35, but I skid, badly. I manage to keep from going off the left side of the road, but I over-correct and do a 180 and somehow just give up trying to correct a second time. I go off the right side of the road backwards where there is a turnout, but I have so much momentum I keep going down the hill backwards. Down a brush pile which slows me down until I finally stop. Turns out there was a giant bolder at the bottom of the brush pile that finally stopped me.

I get out of the car. I am totally fine it seems (although later it turns out I gave myself whiplash which took about 18 days to fully recover from). I am very glad no other vehicles were involved. I am secretly glad the car is totaled. I am very glad no one is insisting on making me go to the hospital, but I know I can’t leave the car in the ditch, and I know I need to get back to Redding.

I have no cell reception, but a nice woman offers to drive me back to Burney and a nice battery store guy has Verizon and lets me use his phone to call for a tow after he calls CHP. Luckily I do not get a citation. I sit with the battery guy until CHP comes and then sit with CHP until the tow company comes. It is raining and cold. By the time we get the car out of the ditch and back into town it’s almost 4 in the afternoon and starting to get dark.

Although I’m glad the car is totaled, I also realize that there is no way I can replace it and start to freak out about life without a car. I am emotionally and physically exhausted and have had wet feet since 10 a.m. I just want to go home and take a nice hot bath, eat some hearty, greasy food, and have a beer.

Well, the rest October and then November bring weeks of frustration trying to gather up three or four grand from every last penny I can beg, borrow, or steal and trying to find a car on Craigslist, preferably one with under 150K on it, or at least under 150K on the engine, and one that is being sold at or below its Kelly Blue Book. Turns out you can’t really do that in Shasta County. Anything decent was sold in under 4 hours. Most people were asking $2K over the bluebook price or trying to sell non-ops or vehicles that could not smog or cars with almost 300K on them. Are you on crack!?! After spending 80 hours or so in a futile search for personal transportation. I gave up and decided that someone else was just going to have to know someone selling something. I was not going to find a car on Redding Craigslist unless I made it a full-time occupation for several months.

People are like, “Why aren’t you renting a car to shop for a car? ” I had to beg money from my parents so I could fix my car so I could go work in Tulare County so I could pay November rent. Are you stupid or just plain dumb?

“Didn’t you have insurance?” Why would you pay to carry collision or comprehensive on a car worth less than $1500?

“Why don’t you shop at a dealership?” A, I cannot afford a car payment. B. I cannot afford insurance on a car I do not own. C. My credit score is so low I don’t even care to know how low. Even if I could afford car payments and insurance, no dealership anywhere would give me a loan.


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