August 4th – When it Rains it Pours

I could not have known the day I was in for when my eyes opened this Thursday morning. We woke up decently hungry, but mostly out of food, so we set out pretty quickly to head to Trader Joe’s for some groceries. Amy’s apartment has extremely limited parking, leaving me to park the bike on the street. The last time I had parked, the street had been pretty full, too, so I was parked a few hundred feet up the road. We carried our empty saddle bags to the bike and clipped them on for future holding of groceries. I sat down in the saddle, turned the key, and was met with the characteristic sound of an engine failing to turn over. “Hryin dyin dyin dyin dyin dyin dyin” came the whine of the starter as I stared at my bike in disbelief. It had worked fine the day before. I had parked it here probably 15 hours prior.

Well, the gas light had been on, so maybe I had just been coasting on fumes last night. Usually I get about 70 miles after the gas light comes on, and it had only been about 20, but still. That would be the easiest thing to fix. There was a gas station a couple blocks away, so I began the arduous process of pushing 600lbs of metal and plastic down the road, up a slight incline, to get to the station. We got some chuckles from the locals pushing our BMW down the road. My mind began to race in a panic. I had just spent $855 on a damn shock, what if the bike needed hundreds of more dollars in repairs? Should I cancel the shock, and just give up on this bike before it cost me everything? I took a deep breath as I pushed the motorcycle up the shallow slope. “Calm down, I’m sure it just needs gas,” I told myself. After 20 minutes of pushing, we made it to the gas station, and I walked inside to pre-pay for the fuel. Glug glug glug glug. Finally it was full. Moment of truth. I turned the key, hit the ignition button, and….the same. Fuck!

It had become apparent that it was more complicated than being out of fuel. I pushed the bike into a nearby parking lot, and called my insurance company. I had wisely selected towing on my plan, and was going to take advantage of it. Of course, it still wasn’t by any means easy to actually get this accomplished. I called in, navigated my way through the automated answering system, and finally got through to a human who would arrange my tow. This is where things got complicated. The towing is only free to the closest shop approved by Progressive. In their system, they had made no distinction between car and motorcycle shops, so they were trying to insist on towing my motorcycle to Hollywood BMW, a car dealership. I tried to explain this to them, but was told I was wrong, and that they would indeed work on my bike. I called Hollywood BMW. It was a car dealership, and they did not do any work on bikes. I called back my insurance company, navigated through the automated answering machine, and told them this. I was given three more car dealerships that I had to call to confirm that no, the car dealerships did not in fact work on motorcycles. After I exhausted every BMW car dealership in Los Angeles, they started having me call non-BMW bike shops, which I also tried up front to tell them would be a fruitless effort. I spent easily an hour on the phone with a half dozen shops, confirming what I already knew, before they would even agree to talk to a manager about approving a tow to a non-approved shop. I spent 30 minutes on hold while this was approved, and then another 30 minutes tracking down a bike shop that was both qualified to work on BMWs, and had an available bay to look at my bike in. There was a single bike shop, Valdi’s Motozone, and it was all the way in Torrance, about 15 miles out of the normal free towing range. I had to spend another 15 minutes on hold getting that approved, but then finally, I was promised a tow truck would be on it’s way to me. They said it would be about an hour, and that they would give me a call when the truck was getting close. I walked into the convenient store we were parked outside of, and purchased a drink while I asked to leave the bike there until the tow truck showed up. The clerk gave me a long stare, but nodded his consent.

Since we had an hour, we walked the short distance back to the apartment to get good and stoned before the long tow truck ride to the shop. About 30 minutes later, the phone rang. The tow truck had broken down, and their only other free tow truck was being used to tow the broken one. Wow. There would be a tow truck there within an hour they promised. An hour later, the phone rang. The tow truck was 20 minutes away. We waited about 10 minutes, and then headed back to the bike. An hour after the 20 minute warning call, no tow truck had arrived. I called my insurance company to see where the truck was. The automated answering system did voice recognition, and it was a very windy day. Before I could even speak at all into the machine, it gave the tone indicating it had understood my input. “Your tow has been canceled. Thank you for calling progressive.” click. Uhhh…Are you serious?

A glimmer of hope flitted through my mind as I saw a tow truck rounded the corner. I waved at it. I jumped up and down and flailed my arms. It stopped near us. The driver looked at me. He was on his phone. A minute passed, and he drove away. I heard the engine noise fade into the background as he rounded a corner and just drove away. “My life is a cruel joke” I thought to myself, sinking to the ground in a moment of despair. I called my insurance company to see what they hell just happened. Apparently, once a tow was canceled the whole process had to be restarted. At least the manager on duty was still the same, and getting the tow to the right shop approved took only 5 minutes this time. The tow truck would be there within an hour. Two hours later, the exact same tow truck arrives back, and actually pulls over for us. Valdi’s closed an hour ago, but I had been calling the shop periodically, and Valdi promised to stay open later to take the bike in. We climbed in the tow truck, and began the hour long drive to Torrance. By the time we arrived at Valdi’s, the shop had been closed for over 2 hours, but he was still there to open the gate for us. Of course, he wouldn’t be looking at today, but it would be his first bike tomorrow. I thanked him for staying open for me, and called a cab.

Normally, I would never call a cab. They are absurdly overpriced, but Progressive had promised to reimburse me(this has not yet happened) for transportation costs associated with the bike being in the shop. By the time we successfully made it into a cab, and were heading back in to Los Angeles, traffic had gotten slightly lighter, and it only took about 45 minutes and $63 to get back. Some 8 hours after we had left to go grocery shopping, we arrived back at the apartment, still having eaten nothing at all for the day, save for a Dr. Pepper we shared several hours back. Even out of town, Amy saves us again. She had left her car, and her key for us in case we really needed it. The bike was out of commission and in a neighboring town, and we really really needed to eat, so we took her car to Trader Joe’s, and finally were able to pick up some food to eat. By the time we finished unpacking our groceries, 10 hours had passed from when we hungrily left the apartment that morning. Longest fucking grocery trip ever.

While dinner was cooking, we smoked a couple bowls, and chugged a couple beers. Days like this call for alcohol. By the time dinner was finally ready, we were ravenous, and make short work of a fairly large meal. Finally full, we passed out almost immediately. Our bodies had been keeping us up up and moving long enough to get food inside, but with that goal now achieved, we had exhausted our reserve energy supplies. Anything remaining would be used in digestion, so it was time for us to be unconscious. The brain is such an expensive organ to keep going.

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