Category Archives: I ♥ My Miata

Insurance Policies

It’s that time again, where Mercury decides to hike rates when policies come up for renewal.  So, here I am shopping again.  I did this three years ago and was dismally disappointed to stay with Mercury because, even though they’d gone higher, everyone else was higher still.

Last week I started shopping for insurance. I had predetermined that if AAA could beat Mercury’s price that I would go with them, so I submitted a quote request on their website.  I would have thought that would kind of make me a “dream lead.”

Within 2 minutes, I had a call from an agent out of an office 25 minutes north of me. I called him back a couple hours later, provided him with the coverages that I had with Mercury and asked him for an apples-to-apples quote as a starting point, and told him that after I had that, I wanted to go through my limits and tweak things.

He did not give me an apples-to-apples quote, he gave me what he thought I should have as coverage, or maybe what he thought would make the most of an impact. So, when he called me back, I again told him what I wanted and made him play with the amounts until I had something close. But he STILL didn’t give me an apples-to-apples comparison.

So I emailed him the Excel spreadsheet I was using to break things down for myself. He expressed shock that I had created such a monster, but I hoped that he would see that I was serious when I told him what I wanted.

Then after going back and forth a few more times, this week he called me and I still had questions that weren’t being set to rest, and he started in on me with a close. I busted him on it. I said, “Look at you, trying to close me!” He said, “No, no, I’m not trying to close you, we’re not commission, I have no reason to close you. But, come on, either you’re going to do this or not” Surprised, because I’d already told him what I wanted, I said, “Here’s the deal, I’ve already decided I’m going with AAA, but I still have unresolved questions on the quotes you’re giving me.” He said, “How about I send you over the contract and you give me your credit card and I’ll collect payment.”

He emailed me the contract and, somehow, the cost of the home premium didn’t match up with any of the quotes he had given me. Also, he had William’s name wrong on it, he had both of the adults listed as “homemakers” and a couple other minor details were wrong. Nothing that would impact the numbers, but insurance policies aren’t “just” about numbers.  So, I called him and told him to revise it and requested he explain the discrepancy in the amount. He said,”Oh, those details don’t matter… and, remember? We changed the content overage amount, that’s why the premium is different.” I did not remember that, because I had told him to take the contents coverage down, so how on earth could the premium go up?

So, today I took my binder with all my research, my Mercury policies, the 5 different quotes that the agent had sent me (because apparently my request for apples-to-apples was too complicated for him), and walked into the AAA office that’s 1.5 miles away from my office and sat down with a broker there. We went through it all, line by line. He resolved my questions, found why the premium was higher on the home policy vs. the quotes (the other agent had erroneously increased a percentage in a drill down screen to 25%, when it should have been 10%), as Detailed Agent was going through it all, he corrected William’s name, and then nonchalantly changed it to all capital letters to match the other lettering… and, that right there? I slammed my fist down on his desk and said, “SOLD!”  Because that kind of attention to detail is the kind of guy I want handling my business.  He laughed at me and told me it would have bugged him if he hadn’t.  And when he said that, I figured that maybe we could even be friends!! ha

Even though I initially was there to only get clarification, after Detailed Agent found the discrepancy, he told me, “We’re commission based, so I can’t take this over, you would need to go back to Top Agent guy.” I said, “Well, now that you’ve found that discrepancy, plus all the other things, I want to switch to you.” I guess this isn’t normally something that happens, because Detailed Agent had to get clearance from his supervisor to proceed with it, and he could only proceed because I hadn’t actually signed anything.

Morals of the story:
Pay attention to details — this is important for both parties.
If you can’t close a deal, figure out what’s unresolved and address it.
Don’t be lazy when completing paperwork. Take the time to do it right. The boxes may not matter in the whole scheme of things, but it matters to me when reviewing it.
If someone asks for something specific, either deliver it or explain why you can’t — and don’t theorize or make something up.
In no case is it OK to presume that you know what’s better for me.

As a client, I’m looking at the details. If I find something wrong, I’m going to wonder what else might be wrong that I can’t see.  And I will investigate it until I find it.  Something tells me that Top Agent Guy is going to be pissed about this.

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Filed under I ♥ My Miata, I feel Irritated, I own a Home

Crazy Drivers.

I had a wonderful night’s sleep and felt so relaxed this morning. William woke on his own, and at the perfect time, so we had some wonderful, sweet time together this morning. As I pulled out of the garage and drove down the hill, I debated what music I wanted to hear. I have a love/hate relationship with worship music in the car, it’s a constant battle for me to sing along with worship music while driving in the midst of frustrating traffic, but this morning I felt really positive that I could do it!

I merged onto the freeway and was pleased that I managed to do so without inconveniencing anyone. I merged onto the 405 and then, from a mile behind, someone who had taken the truck bypass lane off the 5 rapidly came up behind me and tailgated me. I ignored him, because most people, when they come off that merge lane choose to go over to the fast lane. My strategy is to stay in the slow lane and merge gradually when the lane ends. So I figured he’d move on in a minute or two.

This guy didn’t do that. He stayed on my tail, and when the slow lane started to slow, he THEN swerved rapidly to the left, to the fast lane, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

I tracked him with my eyes, just a little concerned. He wasn’t hard to miss, since he was tailgating and weaving. I just followed my usual pattern of driving, this lane here, that lane there, I stayed in the slow lane, merging where I needed to, etc., but for the most part just “holding my lane.” Leaving appropriate “heavy traffic” space between cars as usual, just enough for me to be comfortable. Heavy traffic drivers know it’s a fine art of just how much space you can leave without pissing off everyone behind you because you don’t want the entire county to merge in front of you. But I’m always careful to let people in if need be, so they can get over to the car pool lane, etc. Just doing my usual drive. My pattern is a good one, I know this… I’ve been doing this drive since 2009 and my pattern has been proven over and over again, because I’ll usually pick a car or two in other lanes and “track” them. On a normal day, my pattern usually puts me quite a few cars ahead of the ones I’m tracking.

My pattern bore out again today, because despite this guy’s weaving and tailgating, from the fast lane back over to the slow lane, back and forth he went, he wasn’t able to get in front of me. Apparently, I was his car that he was “tracking” and it was pissing him right off. There was one instance that I refused to let him in front of me, I had let someone merge who had just gotten on the freeway, and it was apparent that they were trying to get over to the car pool lane. Now, the thing is, that merging lane is approximately 1 mile, maybe 1.5 miles long. It serves as a major freeway merge on ramp, as well as a major street’s off ramp, 500 feet after the street’s exit lane, the merge lane ends. My experience tells me that the only reason people urgently move over is because they’re trying to get into the car pool lane, because the car pool opening ends mid-point, and people (if they’re trying to get into the car pool lane) have to cross 5 or 6 lanes of cars to get there. For the most part, though, people just be-bop along in that merge lane and then merge like a zipper when it ends. Easy peasy.

After seeing me let a car pool merger in, the Fool decided that he was going to be opportunistic and rapidly “jumped out” into the merge lane, and then attempted to “merge” back in, right into my passenger door! It was at that point I realized, for whatever reason, he had it in for me… because, as mentioned, he could have easily just be-bopped along for another mile and merged back in, but he wanted in front of ME. Since he wasn’t merging into an open space, but rather into my passenger door, I didn’t want to brake abruptly (not sure that would have helped in this instance anyway) and I am rather fond of my passenger door, so, I attempted to change lanes to let him have my spot, but someone was next to me, so I blared my horn at the Fool. He apparently wasn’t expecting really loud air horns to be part of my tiny car, because he backed off and went back behind me.

I was able to safely change lanes a couple seconds after that, intending to let the Fool have my spot, but he followed my lane change. And then from that point on, he copied every single lane change I made and left about 3 inches of room between my rear bumper and his front bumper. To compensate for that (since I’m rather fond of my rear bumper), I left a bit more space in front of me in case traffic were to stop rapidly (which it does in the lane I (we?) was in at that part of the freeway). I was not using my brakes, but rather my engine/stick shift to adjust my speed. I’m sure he thought I was leaving extra space with the sole intent to piss him off, but I wasn’t. When traffic opened up, he zipped into the lane next to me and cut in front of me (despite ample room in both lanes, he just had to make his point), and crammed on his brakes. In his impulsive move, he actually left a better lane open. So I changed lanes to the better lane.

Even though he was now in front of me, he changed lanes to be in front of me and hold me behind him by braking maliciously. I sighed and rolled my eyes. (I really did.) it was apparent that he was desperately trying to start something with me. So, I signaled and changed lanes again, moving to the right, and got behind a car who had a semi truck in front of him. He changed lanes to get in front of the car, wedging himself between the semi truck and the car. I changed lanes, again, pretending i was getting off the freeway. He was unable to change lanes because there was a semi truck where he wanted to go. He executed a rapid two lane change in one fluid swerve to get back in the fast lane and accelerated to tail gate his next victim. And the last I saw of him, he had swerved back to the right, crossing two lanes, and was braking hard because he was behind an SUV.

People like that terrify me. I was still shaking when I got to work. I was thankful that I got to work safely. And I realized my worship music was still playing sweet accompaniment to the craziness as I parked. So, happy Friday to you and I’m glad it’s a happy Friday.

I’m thinking it may be awhile before I brave worship music again in the morning.

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Filed under I ♥ My Miata, Sometimes I Sleep, Spirituality

November and Time

I don’t know where the month of November has gone.  I know they say that time seems to go faster as you get older, and then you throw a child into the mix and it really seems to fly.  I really hate being a cliche.

So, let’s catch up … late last month I was the recipient of a speeding ticket.  It wasn’t an intentional thing on my part, it was more along the lines of me getting stuck in the middle of a huge group of cars who were doing 15 MPH under the speed limit, then, somehow, at the traffic light, the 5 cars ahead of me decided to turn left, leaving me the first in line and when the light turned green, my mind was on something else. Tony was right behind me and when the light turned green I must have reveled in my freedom.  There wasn’t a real reason for me to speed, the lights are synched at that point all the way to the freeway, so no matter what speed I went, it wouldn’t have made a difference.  There I was, way ahead of everyone, and I saw that motorcycle cop.  Pretty sure it was the same guy who gave me my bicycle lane infringement ticket 5 years ago.  I wonder if, when he saw me, in his head he chanted, “Winner, winner, Chicken Dinner!”  I should have asked him that, huh?  In fact, I’m gonna write a list of questions I want to ask an officer sometime… like, “Is it illegal for a motorcycle to use the double yellow lines between the carpool lane and the fast lane as a motorcycle lane, basically “splitting” lanes there?”  and “Why does no one ever ticket the guy doing 40 MPH on the freeway?”  You know, that sort of thing.  I really am making a list, you know, because it’s these types of things I always forget to ask but really want to know when I’m faced with the officer who stands just behind your shoulder so you can’t really see him, while he’s asking to see your proof of registration and insurance and your hands are shaking because you’ve gotten caught breaking the law.

In other automotive news, a month ago, I backed out of my garage, shifted out of reverse into 1st, and my neighbor backed into my car.  It took me  a couple seconds to figure out what happened… because how does one hit something if I was moving forward and there was nothing in front of me?  Then I realized I hadn’t hit anything, someone had hit me.  So weird.  I’ve lived in this house for 8 years and never even come close to this happening.  Proof, once again, that little cars are invisible to big SUVs.   He said he’d replace the broken tail light, but I’m still waiting on it.  Not without many updates on his part, because I told him I was OK with a used part because Mazda plastics have a reputation of fading.  Plus, he has a couple small children, so if he’s anything like me, money is tight and every penny counts and used parts are generally less expensive.  The thing is, I’m finding, I really just don’t care… it’s not like I ever look at my own tail light.  I guess if it’s not replaced in another couple weeks, I’ll have to ask him about it.

Thanksgiving is this week… even though we celebrated Thanksgiving early with Tony’s family this past weekend, since Steve and Marigold are moving eastward, we’ll be hosting a small “crockpot” Thanksgiving at our house on the real day this week.  I’m looking forward to it.  A three day work week is what I’m facing this week, and the first day of it (today) is almost over.

Happy Thanskgiving, then, if I don’t get on here before then.

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Filed under I ♥ My Miata, I have Friends

Last Friday.

I woke up Friday morning, happy and enthusiastic to start off the last day to the week. Hopeful for a good day, grateful for the little bit of extra sleep since it wasn’t my early day of the week.

Climb in my car and crank the engine, mutter to myself that I really must change the battery. I have an extra (doesn’t everyone?), just need to put it in. I back out of the garage and stare woefully, as I do every day when I leave for work, at the slowly raising and lowering garage door. Woeful, because of that one time I was impatient, backed out before it was all the way up, and snapped off my antenna.

Over the speed bump I go, glance in my rearview mirror and snicker to myself. More than once that speed bump has closed my trunk lid for me. Not today, though, I’m good and ready to go.

Get to the main street, look left for oncoming traffic — no cars! Pull out and am tickled that the traffic light they installed a block down is GREEEEEN! Go me! First, second, third gear and… Pink is still singing about how she lost her husband, she don’t know where he went and I’m thinking I just lost my power, where did my engine go?

Downshift back into second gear… nothing. Crap. Flashers on, pull to the side of the road. Car doesn’t restart. Turn Pink off, she’s starting to annoy me. Just find your husband already! Try to start car again. Engine cranks, but doesn’t start.

I was a block from home, watching in my rearview mirror all my neighbors pull out and drive past me, only one of them stopped. Watching that dratted traffic light I hate so much go through its stupid cycle. The city bus came and went twice.

And finally the tow truck driver arrived, to load up my car and drive it a mile and half to my mechanic’s shop. If I could have coasted there, I would have. I thought about trying.

Turns out, it was a blown fuse for the fuel injection system. So we changed the fuse and changed the fuel filter. While we were at it, we plunked in the new battery and replaced the antenna assembly. It feels like a new car! Imagine! I can listen to traffic updates and news on my way to work!

It was funny, though, even though I was on the side of the road, I found myself thankful. I wasn’t on a major freeway during rush hour. It was a beautiful weather day, and there were a ton of birds chattering to each other in the tree tops. My husband was able to come and provide his AAA card to the tow truck driver. My father-in-law was able to drive over and give me a ride to work. My husband was able to pick me up from work. My mechanic is an honest guy, the fix was a non-major thing AND I was able to get some other necessary work done on the car.

Although it did make me realize that my car IS eight years old. Perhaps it’s time for me to renew my AAA membership.

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Long Weekend Ahead?

I’ve walked around all day today thinking that it’s Wednesday. Freaking out when someone asked me to schedule something for Thursday morning and thinking it’s TOMORROW. Yikes.

My car got two new shoes this morning. I was getting tired of testing my driving skills on slick pavement when it rained. The two that needed replacement were on the rear on a rear wheel drive car. Can you say “fishtailing”? Me neither, but I sure was driving that way.

While waiting for my car, I discovered a Starbucks gift card in my purse and, wouldn’t you know, there was a Starbucks across the parking lot!

I waited for my coffee, just people watching. The gal running the cash register and the two people making the drinks had a great system, and even though the line was long, it moved really quickly.

A fellow who was also waiting started to sit down in the chair sharing my table, and then realized that I was there already. He paused in an awkward half sitting, half standing position, so I laughed and said, “Go ahead and have a seat!” He grinned and shared that he’d called ahead for two gallons of coffee, but they had forgotten to make them. I said, “Uh ohhh…” He said, “Yeah. That’s OK, life’s too short to get upset over something like this.”

I replied that was very true. My mind flashed back to an experience I’d had a few months ago when someone got really upset because she wasn’t first in line to the newly opened cash register. The guy in front of us ushered her to the front of the line and told her, “You know, ma’am, life’s just way too short to be so upset over something so meaningless.”

Today’s person apologized and said, “Maybe that sounds too philosophical…” I replied, “That’s OK, there comes a point in people’s lives when I think it’s appropriate to be philosophical and realize that you have to prioritize everything, even the things you choose to get upset over… and it’s important to realize it IS a choice.”

And all this before my cup of coffee, mind you.

Is it no wonder I felt like it was already Wednesday?

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Filed under I ♥ My Miata, I Stimulate the Economy, I'm Never too Old to Learn, Sometimes Thinking Exhausts Me

Love & Loathe – 03/18/10

Loathe:

* Car trouble. It’s really unfair how one little bitty expensive part can cause so much trouble. Tomorrow will be day two in the shop for the little red car.

* Police helicopters who circle above our neighborhood at 11:15 PM once a week. I don’t buy it anymore that there’s some criminal they’re watching, it’s too predictable. I think it’s a practice flight and I think it’s annoying. I need my sleep or I just might become a criminal for them to watch. *grumble*

* Taxes.


Love:

* A particular blog friend who mailed me homemade St. Patrick’s day sugar cookies ALL THE WAY from the east coast. I opened the package and stood there with tears in my eyes at her thoughtfulness. I love you, Nina. I would have taken pictures, except that there aren’t any left to take a picture of. They were gone within 8 hours. Sorry. You’ll just have to take my word for it that they were delicious.

* Kentucky Fried Chicken’s cole slaw.

* Jalapenos on a hamburger. We had dinner with friends tonight (I love them, too), but putting those jalapenos on my burger made it 10x more delicious than delicious can be defined.

* One more month and my community should start heating our community’s pool. I can’t wait!

* My husband who gladly inconvenienced himself by giving up his car for the day, so I could get to work. Which meant I got to experience what it’s like to drive around at 5 AM to take him to work so I could have his car for the day. It’s weird at that time of the day, no one’s around and it’s all dark and stuff. Weird.

* Tony’s parents. For many reasons, I love them, but heaped on top of it all, since we both need a car for tomorrow, they are gladly giving up one of theirs.

One Last Thing:

I’m just plain tired. The weekend needs to be here so I can sleep.

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Filed under I ♥ My Miata, I have Friends, Love/Loathe

Green Dinner & Stuff

On my way home from work on Friday night, I was in stop-and-go traffic behind a guy in a silver Miata with a black top. It was the earlier version of the Miata, the version with the plastic window, which he had unzipped. It made me smile, because I remembered that I used to do that, too, sometimes when I had mine. Yes, before the 2002 Miata I own now, I owned a 1992 Miata. What can I say, I love those little cars.

The thing I noticed about him beyond his car, was that he had a tick. I don’t know if he had Turret’s syndrome or what, but every 30 seconds or so, his body forced him to turn his head to his right, bobble it a couple times, while he mouthed a few words, and then he faced forward again. Over and over it went.

At first I thought it was kind of funny, then as time passed and we all slowly crept forward together, stuck on the freeway in a proximity closer than any of us wanted, I couldn’t help but think how exhausting that must be for him. Time after time I watched his head turn quickly, bobble, his car would mildly swerve in sync, and then he regained control, faced forward and acted as if everything was normal. It was normal for him. His normal.

Isn’t that what we all try to do? Move forward with each of our versions of “normal?” Whatever that may be?

Yesterday was the annual Green Dinner event at Tony’s church. It’s an event that we start talking about when we put our Valentine’s decorations away and bring out our St. Patrick’s Day decorations. It’s an event I always enjoy, where they serve delicious corned beef, potatoes, carrots, cabbage and cake (CAKE!!). This year, while the venue was a bit smaller and there were no Irish dancers, I still immensely enjoyed everything that was offered. Plus, visiting with the Seniors (Tony’s parents), and the Steve/Marigold/Huck/Milo Show made for a perfect evening, as far as I was concerned.

Today I got back in the pool for the first time in a month and a half. I felt like I needed to for my own sanity, but I was scared to do so, because I thought for sure I’d miscarry right then and there. The doctor tells you not to do something and suddenly it becomes Bad. Yet in a “normal” pregnancy, swimming would be Good. The mind is a funny thing sometimes.

The act of swimming felt weird to me after so long of a break. Although they knew what they were supposed to be doing, my arms felt like uncoordinated noodles. I was also ultra-aware of what muscles I was using to accomplish what came so easily to me not that long ago. The most surprising thing to me, though, was that I didn’t get winded at all… my stamina and endurance hadn’t changed much. Which is to say that I didn’t find myself huffing and puffing at all, and I was pleased with that. I guess I was in better shape than I had thought.

It was such a beautiful day here today. Tony refilled the bird feeders in our back yard and the sun was so warm and bright, I went outside and thought, “Wow, I bet it would feel wonderful just to lie down and look up at the sky…” And so I did. Then I fell asleep and ended up taking a 45 minute nap, lying on the warmed concrete in our back yard, with the sun shining warmly on my skin and a slight breeze stirring the leaves of the Eucalyptus tree behind me. I had a nap in the oasis, such as it is, of my own back yard.

Then I had to get up and do chores.

Normal. My normal.

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Filed under I ♥ My Miata, I did something Special, I have Family, Kid Quest, Who I am