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2023-04-02 00:16:11 (UTC)

Day 1: Travel Complications

Personal entry follows.

To sum things up quickly: Wrapped up my work week at the eco-institute, then headed off for my trip back east early Saturday morning. Started experiencing throttle issues with the car prior to my first day's stopping point after refueling, and when at my stop for day 1 and going through town there was a tremendous amount of sputtering whenever trying to accelerate. In the afternoon, I was able to eventually start the car, but any use of the throttle to go forward or reverse resulted in sputtering, bursts of exhaust, and stall-outs. The car's currently waiting in a dealership parking lot for mechanics to look at it Monday.

So I canceled all my hotel stays I'd reserved earlier this week, and I'll be in this town at least an extra day and a half, maybe two days. I'll know just how long on Monday, when I'm contacted by the mechanics. The good news is that there have been incredibly-helpful people in this ordeal. The tow-truck driver was a friendly guy who kept things professional and pleasant for me, and left a note with my car, and all that. I'm confident the vehicle is where it needs to be, and that the dealership will be able to patch things up (it's also helpful that I had AAA roadside service to kick off the process). He was a funny guy and kept things upbeat though this has been a bummer and a special kind of nightmare.

The staff here at the hotel has been fantastic as well. The room I was originally assigned to reeked of cigarette and cigar smoke, and after requesting a change I was moved to a different room that's leagues better than what I had. Extending my stay in this new room seems to be hassle-free. When asking for laundry services (I brought my dirty clothes from the eco-institute with me, so I could tackle laundry on the road), the staffperson and I both learned that the two local laundromats were closed, meaning the closest one I could visit was a three-mile walk away. So she actually offered to do my laundry service for me, using the hotel's laundry machines...! She even brought the bag-full of cleaned laundry up to my room! The only thing I needed to do was fold it all. The mud is out, the diesel is out (with the exception of my semi-disposable work gloves), and I have clean socks and underwear for the rest of the week. I offered her pizza, but she politely declined. :)

Finally: I had booked my hotel stays through Expedia, and their staff has worked to ensure that I can avoid cancellation fees. There was one hotel that originally would not refund any money - neither for a booking error on my part earlier this week, nor having to cancel my stay five days out - but through chatting with an Expedia rep there's a high likelihood that the booking will be fully-refunded. We'll see. But the bottom line is that the financial hit this setback is causing could be a lot worse.

There are some who criticize Expedia or accuse them of tacking-on fees that make the "discounts" and "savings" of booking through them negligible (this would include one of the other staff at the hotel I'm staying at now, actually). However when they can reduce my overall financial hit by advocating for customers in situations like these, I'm not so sure it's a ripoff. It's nice to not have to navigate those calls and hear all the "no" myself.


The only remaining puzzle is the car. Until Monday comes around I can only speculate, and I'd rather not think the worst of others. Were there any bad actors it could range from - starting with the most bat-shit crazy hypothesis - one of the other interns sabotaging my car (like pissing in my gas tank or something stupid like that), to the oil change techs I visited this morning doing a poor job (also unlikely, and it would be a first besides), to bad fuel at one of the truck stops I'd refueled at (hmm, a possibility), to finally a fuel-system failure: either the fuel line, fuel filter, or fuel pump. Banking on the latter, I'm expecting the dealership to come back to me on Monday with news of a fuel system clean-out and likely a filter or pump replacement. I have receipts with date- and time-stamps regarding the refueling stops so if I need to I can refer back to them for some kind of recompense.

The town library is literally right next door to the hotel, so I might wander over there for some fresh perspective and make the most of my time here. Sure, it sucks that my trip has been kneecapped on day one, but I'll make my way out to my destination eventually. If it turns out I have more complications, I'll have to deal with them as they rear their ugly head anyway. Being anxious about what might happen is simply a method of ruining my own good vibes, and it won't solve anything regardless. Hitting the road with calmness and a clear head is a much better option.


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