Friday, November 26, 2010

To Give Thanks

I'd classify myself as more spiritual than religious, and as I'm about as deep as a dry creek bed, probably not very that either. And I'm much more inclined to believe that if anyone IS watching over us, it's because we're someone's ant farm more than for any other reason.

Having said that, however, I think that it's a good idea to reflect on what's good in your life and to try to find a positive spin for what's bad and to be grateful for what you have. Sending good thoughts in the direction of karma, or luck, kismet, fate, the divine - whatever floats your boat - can't be a bad idea. A friend on facebook puts her daily note of thanks to the universe up every morning and while I'm not willing to be quite as public about it as she is, her doing so has made me think more about it, which was probably the point of her making it public to begin with. (That sentence just gave me a headache. I'm going for the Bailey's, back in a jiff.)

Right. Now fortified! Yum. Warm Bailey's. Where was I? Right, thankful. I'm thankful for warm Baileys...

I'm not sure exactly when it occurred to me - undoubtedly several years after it should have - but being who, what, when and where I am makes me one very lucky lucky lucky person. I am blue-eyed, mostly blond, blessed with my health, the product of a rock solid marriage by two people who loved each other and their children. I have a world class college education, which I worked for - but not nearly as hard as it was necessary to for others. I live in a country that gives me recourse if I am treated unfairly because of my gender or my age or my sexuality or any number of other things, in a time where nearly all things are possible.

I got an email a while ago, and while I don't remember most of it, it was basically a check list of things that I usually take for granted that most of the world's population is without. And that got me thinking about how much I do have and being rather statistically inclined, I started thinking about THAT and realized that I am probably more fortunate than more than 90% of the world's total population. Think about that for a minute.

As I whine, and plod through my days, and mutter at gas prices and groceries, vet bills, MOVING (omg, the whining. you have no idea. yet.), drama with Petunia, my family and their complete lack of all rational thought processes, the new job, the search for a house, etc it's very easy to overlook what I have.

So I'm going to bundle up and go sit next to my thinking tree and say thanks, to the universe or anyone else who might be listening. Fate? Karma? Random good luck? Whatever it is, I've already won the best lottery of all. (There's another email that I get occasionally that blathers on about being grateful for all of this painful stuff - I'm grateful that my back hurts because it means I accomplished something blah blah blah - that mostly makes me want to punch the nut that came up with it, but I guess I do understand the thought behind it.)

Anyway, next time you have a moment, even if it's just at a red light, stop and say thanks. Who knows who is paying attention, and frankly the atmosphere can use the positive energy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Saga Continues...

Where did we leave off? Ah, yes. Here.

Well, after I talked to the finance people, and learned that the dealership had until January 10 to send them the title and paperwork, I was pretty upset. This meant that I HAD to go through the dealership to get Petunia registered - I couldn't cut them out and go directly to the state myself. And then I got to thinking... I couldn't get them for myself unless I got the temp tags extended to past the date that the finance people had to have the paperwork. THEN (so my theory went) I could get the finance people to send the title to the state and I could just deal with it then. Ha HA!

So a new quest began - to hunt down the vehicle registration people in Maryland and see if there was any way to extend the original temporary tags. I talked to Tina there, who told me that the temp tag is a one time thing - there were no extensions. Then I unloaded the whole sordid story on the poor woman and she told me to call a number and tell the guy that answered my experience. I owe Tina flowers. And my profound gratitude. THANK YOU, TINA!! Because that guy - who's name I didn't quite catch in spite of his saying it several times - is the guy that handles the license that the dealership must have to operate in the state.

He asked me what dealership it was, and when I told him, he was surprised - he said that they were pretty good. So I informed him about the F rating with the BBB, and the 15 pending cases with the Attorney General's office (both of which were news to him) and then I related what I've been through. He basically said that I was SOL on the garmin, since I'd gotten nothing in writing, and then asked why in the world I'd bought the extended warranty. (My brother already raked me over the coals for that - it's a huge money maker for dealerships. Never buy the extended warranty on a new car - you can apparently buy one at any time before the factory warranty expires for much less money. Sigh. Live and learn.) He asked when I bought the vehicle. (The paperwork says 9/29/10 even though I picked it on on 10/2/10.) Then he told me that he'd call me back within half an hour and hung up.

In less than 10 minutes, the dealership called ME, for just about the first time ever, to explain that the paperwork was with the state and everything would be fine and and and... they crawled. It was awesome.

Ten minutes after THAT, he called back. I meant every word when I said he was a god and I loved him. He told me that the dealership has until 11/28/10 to get this situation resolved, or they answer to him... and he can yank their license to be a dealership. YAY!!!! I'm to call them every day, and let him know what happens either way.

Finally, after 8 weeks of fighting with them and countless hours spent on the phone either talking to people or waiting to talk to people and countless more hours researching online and many many MANY countless hours spent going completely mental over this situation, finally FINALLY, I have a glimmer of hope.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bel Air Nissan Is Evil, Even For A Car Dealership

Being me, I researched my vehicle purchase A LOT. I did scads of internet research, narrowed down the list of vehicles, went and test drove several of each and finally decided on the Nissan XTerra. Then I researched some more, drove more of them, looked at available options and decided that I wanted a 2009 or 2010 XTerra with the off road package, a 6 speed, and oh yes, a dark color - preferably the Night Armor. THEN I spent over a year looking online, in the papers, and so on for my new vehicle.

Finally, late in September, I found a black one in Georgia and a night armor one in Maryland. Both were 2010 models with the off road package and a 6 speed. The 2011 models were out, and my Jeep was definitely feeling its age so I needed to act. The black one was used, but with less than 4000 miles on it. They were offering $27500 for it. I contacted the dealership (Jones Junction, aka Bel Air Nissan) in Maryland and told them that if they could beat the price on the black one, I'd be in the next weekend. Dave Himer, the internet sales guy, asked me to make an offer so I came back with $26000. He went off to talk to his sales manager, came back and said okay.

I arranged for a loan thru my bank but agreed to let them run the numbers to check what they could get me. Dave came back with paperwork thru Nissan that was for a better interest rate, so I said that I'd go thru them. He fedex'd the paperwork, but spelled my name wrong then told me they'd just reprint it at the dealership. When I called and asked about the mileage and whether a Garmin was included with the vehicle, he put me on hold for 10 minutes to go check and came back and gave me the mileage and said that the Garmin was included.

The first weekend in October, I drove from NC to pick up the vehicle. I told them several times that it would be registered in Ohio. My drivers license is from Ohio. My permanent address is in Ohio. The insurance is based in Ohio. When I arrived for the appointment, I was told that i'd have to wait since others had arrived before me. There was no Garmin in the car and when I questioned them, they said that it wasn't listed on the sticker on the car and they didn't have any in stock. Then they said there was a problem with the financing and the interest rate was going to be higher than what my bank could give me. Then they made me wait longer to talk to some female who tried to talk me into a manicure and spending an additional $1000 on some clear coat protective paint thing. Then I waited longer to deal with the finance guy (Ron) who kept hitting on me. We had several discussions about where their numbers came from since they didn't agree with my numbers.

I finally escaped from the dealership after 5 hours, dizzy and half starved, without a Garmin to find my way home, with a higher interest rate AND - I found out later while reviewing the papers - that they charged me nearly 4 times what they quoted for the extended warranty. But, I left with Petunia and I love her.

It is now 7 weeks later, and they are telling me that they didn't charge me enough tax to register the vehicle in Ohio and they expect me to pay an additional $800+ to them. I have been on the phone with Roxanne or Tracey or Steve or Chad damn near every day. Chad is useless - he never once returned a phone call. Ever. Roxanne is nice when you talk to her, but doesn't call back either. Actually, Steve is the only one who DID call when he said he would, and even then it wasn't every time.

They claimed to have the tags from Ohio. This week, I talked to people at the title place and the registration place - they have gotten NO paperwork from the dealership, even though Roxanne claimed to have sent it 2 weeks ago. When I called her on that, she said that there was one more form that she had to fed-ex out and they should have gotten it yesterday. One other thing that makes me believe that she hasn't done anything she said that she would - the sales tax in my county is 6.75%, not the 6% that they've been mentioning.

Today, I talked to the finance people because Ohio won't let you register the vehicle until they have the title. The finance lady (Doreen) told me that they didn't actually have the title yet and the dealership HAD to be the one to handle everything... and they have TWO months from the date of the first payment to get everything under control. This means that they don't have to get things organized until January 10.

Steve Zell is the one who I'm primarily dealing with now. I don't actually know his title, but I think it's "enforcer." I read a review on that talked about how he made some woman cry from getting after her so badly. Last week, I told him that if they provided the garmin and the cradle that were supposed to be on the vehicle, I would pay the tax that they screwed up and didn't charge. He had to talk to the owner to get approval. Then he came back and said that the the deal had been approved but the garmin and cradle had been discontinued but he'd look on Amazon and take the price of the garmin out of the tax. I said no. He was supposed to call yesterday and SHOCK did not. I talked to him this morning, and he said he didn't call because their service manager said that he was going to call me.

I'm at my wit's end. I talked to someone from the Attorney General's Office in Maryland last week and they told me that I was probably going to need a lawyer, which will cost more than just paying the confounded tax. They said this because there are more than 15 pending cases currently open with their office against this dealership. I filed a report with the BBB, but they already have an F rating there. I talked to Nissan Corporate Customer Affairs, and Ryan told me that there was nothing he could do - the dealership is independently owned. He also said that he'd called the dealership and they told him that the issue had been resolved. So, they lie to corporate too.

I am moving from North Carolina NEXT WEEK. I NEED to have this handled NOW. And I have no idea what to do. So if you have any ideas, please share them... and DO NOT ever ever ever ever buy a car from this dealership!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November 24 - TSA Opt Out Day

I've read several articles lately that said that the American public is perfectly okay with the new body scanners at airports because that is necessary to make them safe. Every time I read it, my head explodes.

When you allow a government to control your actions, words and deeds, it is not a democracy. Safety is an illusion. You are not safe. The government can't protect you. It SHOULDN'T protect you because that is not its job. The government is not your parent. You are not a child. A government controlling its citizens is tyranny. And I am sick to the eyes of people claiming they are safer if the government controls how much liquid you can bring on a plane, or makes you strip off your coat, shoes, belt, sweater, jacket, hat, hoodie, etc or makes you deposit your laptop, keys, cell phone, pda, etc in the little basket. Personally, I'd feel much more secure if everyone on board was armed to the teeth. I find it interesting that our government is subjecting us to searches that US soldiers are not allowed to administer on hostile ground.

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

This is attributed to Ben Franklin. Smart guy, that Ben.

Why do so many people have such a problem understanding that the bumper stickers are absolutely right? Freedom isn't free. The cost, however, is not just sacrificing our soldiers on some foreign soil. The cost of being free includes knowing that it is possible for 9/11 to happen. And happen again.

The cost of being free is knowing that freedom to act, to speak freely can allow the extreme few to act in some horrific fashion.

It is way past time that the citizens of this country remember that. And remember that the government works for us, not the other way around. (I'll rant about the job of politician being one that no one who wants it should be allowed to have another day.)

So, on November 24, if you are flying anywhere in the 'States, opt out of the screening. And if you're male, wear a kilt. Commando style. We have to start somewhere in taking back our freedoms, and why not start with making the TSA as miserable as we are?

Update: I like her take on things. I applaud the decision of California DA Steve Wagstaffe to prosecute TSA employees who are guilty of sexual assault. I feel for Erin and what she went through at the Dayton airport.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Final Countdown

I have many posts in edit that maybe some day I'll actually finish and post but that's probably not going to happen any time soon. I will be leaving North Carolina the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to head to my parents' house for the holiday. And then on Saturday, I'll be heading to the Chicago area to start my new job on Monday. (Yes, I know... moving TO Chicago in DECEMBER. My brilliance knows no bounds.)

My contract job ended last Friday. They extended the original contract for 2 weeks, and the global director of quality was pushing for them to extend it again, but I kind of needed this week to get stuff done (especially in the studio) and I'm pretty much done with that company. (That's actually one of the posts in edit.)

I've talked to the movers and have a quote.
I've arranged temporary housing.
I have a plan for leaving and what I'm taking now and not.
Some laundry.
Some (very little) cleaning.

Not Done:
Talk to landlord.
Cancel phone, cable.
Talk to utilities.
Talk to post office.
Deep clean house as much as possible (walls, blinds, ceiling fans, etc)
Organize and get rid of approx. 4 tons of stuff
More laundry.
More cleaning.
401 other things that are buzzing around in my brain like angry hornets right now.

Not Done but Can't Do Until I'm There:
Find a place to live.

Have I mentioned that I hate moving? Oh wait. Yes I have. As a matter of fact, I whined incessantly for months. Brace yourselves, folks, it's about to start again!