The things I do for this job.
So, I’m in La Quinta covering a candidate forum hosted by KESQ’s Tamara Damante and I have just about an hour to write a 20 inch story before a 9 o’clock deadline. Tight, but not impossible. Earlier this year Gannett properties across the U.S. went mobile with a fleet of iPhones and laptops. To clarify, I’ve always carried a laptop with an aircard. This is different. The iPhone is supposed to act as a hotspot to power our devices – laptops, iPads, etc. And the new equipment means we can now link into the system. I’m not just emailing a story in, I’m working off my office computer, out of the office.
Have laptop, will travel. Today’s journalists are mobile. Photo by Aracely “R” Herrera.
But Sprint’s hotspot doesn’t always recognize my phone, even when it’s sitting on top of my laptop. I’ve gotten stuck here before with an editor yelling for copy and no Internet access. Tapping out a three-paragraph story on an iPhone sucks, even if you are an Apple fan. So, I’ve taken to driving to the nearest Starbucks, which Thursday was in Palm Desert.
Starbucks’ free Internet is usually a lifesaver. Usually. But not this week. Five minutes before my deadline the counter chick tells me the coffee shop is closing. No problem, I think. I’ll just move my happy ass outside and type out the last bit of my story on the patio. Except that the patio chairs are stacked and locked with a bicycle chain. Shit.
This might be a good time to tell you that I have a Jeep Wrangler. It’s missing the top. Long story. Let’s just say I looked pretty fucking stupid trying to type in the dark because even though I parked under a street lamp, it kept shutting off intermittently. Oh, and the fucking stick shift? That’s a whole other story.
Being mobile sometimes really sucks.
I just hate that mechanics see dollar signs in a pair of tits.
Pep Boys sucks and I’ll tell you why. In July, Annie and I made a trip up to the high desert to see our friends Carol and Diane and to, well frankly, get out of the desert heat. The engine light came on and the next day the air conditioning quit and then the engine altogether. Thank god for AAA. We got a tow and then a load of shit from the Pep Boys’ reps in Hesperia.
First the parts guy says that I need a new alternator belt. The one that still looked brand new. I say, Hell no. Then he says it was the wrong belt and that’s why it fell off. Then he says it was too big. Oh, so that’s why the AAA guy couldn’t squeeze the belt back on? Then it was too small.
Let me speak to the manager, I say.
Twenty minutes later I get a call and a new explanation. The harmonic balancer was broken. Now, the first thing that makes sense because there was a reason the belt fell off in the first place. Of course the balancer thingy was another $300 on top of the $200 Pep Boys wanted for the new fucking belt I didn’t need.
A couple of hours later and a yelling match with the parts guy, I drive off with my Toyota and its original belt. I wish that were the end of the story. The next day, I’ve got a squeak. Not just a little AC belt squeak that squeals and then goes away. No, not that kind. This little bitch screams down the road like nobody’s business. And I’m thinking, Fuck this is going to be expensive. I’m a procrastinator at heart, so fast forward several noisy weeks and I drop off the car today with a real mechanic, my mechanic Martin.
So, what does Martin tell me? My belts need tightening. Of course they do. I mean, what the hell were the Pep Boys shits doing under the hood anyway? Fucking with my car – like a good capitalist – so I’d have to come back.