Monday, June 05, 2006

What a Day

I didn't have a friend in the world today. I called New Orleans H-D the minute they opened this morning and got nowhere. I was supposed to call back in a half hour when the service mgr got there. When I finally got to talk to him, they were shorthanded, how was I going to get the bike there, blah, blah, blah. He finally tells me that I'm closer to the Gretna shop anyway. Now, mind you, I had looked them up and they're both owned by the same person.

The other shop isn't really any more enthusiastic than the first one, and they don't know if they'll be able to look at it, and they can't pick it up either. They have a truck and a ramp, but nobody to drive it. And their pickup / delivery charge is $180 anyway, so why don't I call Dale's Towing, who will do it for $60. Um, thanks.

So I call Dale's, who are no more enthusiastic than any other people I have dealt with so far. They can maybe get a truck out by lunchtime; I should call back around 11:30. Jesus H. Christ. My next move is to write down phone numbers of both dealers, 3 cab companies, and some more towing services, pack up my gear and check out. The bellman was kind enough to store it for the day, and out into the sunshine I walk to grab a cab.

On the way over there, I tell the driver I need him to hang out for a minute. We get there, I head for the underpass, and this is what I see:

There she was, right where I left her. I actually smiled, although my day would have probably been much simpler had it been stolen. Now I wanted to see if it would start, which it did. I go back and tell Mr. Cabbie that I need him to follow me to Gretna. I paid the fare to that point and told him to keep the meter running. Get back over to the bike, unlock everything, start it up, and... go 5 feet. Damn. Now I give the cabdriver his tip and send him on his way. Lock everything back up and go sit on the street.

Yesterday I was sticking out like a sore thumb sitting there all biker with a tank bag and a helmet. I figured somebody would have done the math and gone looking for the bike, but I guess they didn't. I wasn't taking that chance today, so I left the helmet and headed across the street to a Burger King, which I saw someone go into. Turns out it was a construction worker. OK, I thought it was closed anyway. So I do my own math, and get "construction workers + active job site = lots of pickup trucks." I went in and explained my plight and wondered if anyone wanted to make a couple bucks driving me over the bridge on their lunch break.

Not only didn't that fly, I couldn't even stay inside the building (a/c was working) while I waited. I ended up sitting against the wall trying not to look helpless until enough hours went by that my shade was gone. In the meantime, I had called HOG roadside assistance back to re-open my case, and sat waiting for the next available representative while my cell phone battery slowly drained.

I called back a half dozen times, and I did eventually get through, and was promised to be picked up by the end of the day. Meanwhile, I walked back across the street to get me some new shade and saw there was a body shop open, with a fenced lot. Mental note. Next came a Eureka moment. Next to the body shop was an Enterprise car rental! I sauntered in and asked if they had pickup trucks. No, but they do have a cargo van on hand. Very nice. I'm going to give my boy Dale until 2:30, then I'm taking matters into my own hands. Rent the van, head to Home Depot for some tie-downs and a 2x10, and get back before all the body shop people leave so I could maybe get some help. I was walking back out when the nice lady told me I needed to wait inside in the air conditioning! God bless her.

John eventually showed up driving one of Dale's trucks, and at about 3:00 or so I found myself at Gretna H-D unloading a dead bike and charging $96 to my credit card for an alleged $60 tow --more than the van would have cost me. The service guy was much more helpful in person, and said the next guy who finishes what he's working on will take a look. Probably an hour. We get to talking, and we both agree it's probably the ignition coil. He can't just let me change it without testing the old one first, because if it isn't the problem I'm stuck with it. For $40-some dollars, I say I got a couple tools and I'll take my chances. He says, if you want to do that, you can use whatever tools you need. Now we're getting somewhere.

The only catch here is that I again try to start the bike just to make sure that whatever I do is actually solving the problem, but of course this time it starts and stays running while I ride it around the parking lot to my heart's content.

At the end of the day, I replaced the coil and the plug wires and rode it back to the hotel, which I'd wisely called hours earlier and re-booked for tonight. I'd like to think my problem is solved, and if it were anyone else I'd be confident that it was based on all the information I have. But I'm still 1200 miles from home, and a little uneasy. I guess I just plan my day for tomorrow and see what happens. The weather looks decent, anyway.

It's quarter after 8, and I'm going to see if I can't scare up a well-deserved cocktail. I'd probably pass out asleep after two of them, so I'm going to call it a day after one hurricane.

Wish me luck.


lydia eve said...

aren't you at least glad you're blogging all this so you won't have to tell the story a half a million times once you're back and have recovered a bit from the tragedy of it all? hope the rest of your trip goes MUCH better...

FWandR said...

imagine, all this and now you are in voodoo country on 6/6/06!!!!!

EMark said...

Oh my goodness - reading through all this I feel like should get in my car now to come pick you up! Here's hoping the rest of the trip is much better!