two people days ruined by Mavis simultaneously
Monday, October 15 2012
The Honda Civic Hybrid hasn't been the same since it received four new tires, rear struts, and an all-wheel alignment. Gretchen had said that next time she'd be the one to take the car back to Mavis to complain, but somehow she convinced me to come along and throw away the day with her, because that's how it always is when one is transacting business at Mavis.
We showed up at Mavis and that guy Luis who had waited on me last time was waiting on me again. I described the car's crappy suspension behavior and turned over the keys. And then Gretchen and I had to find some number of hours to occupy our time in the most depressing part of greater Kingston, NY. Our first destination was Carpet One, the discount carpet installer that has installed at least two swaths of flooring in our house. Through the power of her urine alone, Ramona has managed to conclusively destroy the ugly forest green carpet in the first floor office, and we were at Carpet One to scout out replacement options. Initially we found ourselves looking at fairly straightforward sage-colored shag carpets (Gretchen wants that room to be "cozy" and she likes shag), but eventually we came across a crazy deep-dish shag containing multiple kinds of fibers and colored with a bit more electricity in its green. It looked like an overgrown lawn from a Dr. Seuss book. Though it was over the top, Gretchen loved it, and we got the guy there to write us up an estimate on it. It would cost us something like $1700 for only 140 square feet, but our financial situation has been so good of late that it was a purchase worth considering.
The word from Mavis came via cellphone it was as follows: our continuing problems with our car came as the result of bad struts in the frontend, and that about $600 more worth of work needed to be done. That's how Mavis roles; we took the car there had $900 worth of work, it started having problems, and the solution is now $600 worth of work. The guy at Mavis (not Luis, the anglo boss dude) said something about how fixing something can then bring out issues in parts of the car that need fixing. This seemed like a dubious explanation to me, but at this point I just wanted the problems with our car to go away, and it seemed likely it needed new front struts at this point anyway. So we gave the go ahead to the Mavis assholes and now found ourselves with at least two hours to kill.
On the walk back from Carpet One, we ducked into in a dreary little no-name furniture store to get a price for a futon to place in the greenhouse upstairs (a standard couch won't fit through its 24 inch wide door). It's looking like a new futon is going to cost about $350, but I'm not squeamish and would be happy with a used one.
The pedestrian-unfriendly environment of Ulster Avenue is something I've negotiated several times as a pedestrian and also once as a cyclist, but I've never waded through it with another pedestrian. I got the impression from her reaction to the sights and sounds that Gretchen has rarely been in such environments on foot. She kept remarking at all the businesses she'd overlooked when driving by: the gun store, the pizza place, the badly-decorated coffee shop catering to older conservatives, and the several laundromats (servicing a nearby trailer park, which I hadn't noticed until I biked through the area).
By this point we were hungry. Initially I thought we'd be eating at Mother Earth's Storehouse where (because of how the dining area is arranged) it is supposedly possible to eat for free. But then we saw the Olive Garden, which I'd sort of forgotten about. When one is having a day of walking from discount tire places to carpet wholesalers, it's not the sort of day where it seems appropriate to eat at a health food store. The Olive Garden made perfect sense. So soon we were in a booth ordering fancy drinks, pasta, and endless breadsticks, minestrone soup, and salad. There are only two vegan pastas on the menu, and we ordered both of them. Gretchen's linguine had the smell and flavor that gave me unpleasant memories of elementary school cafeterias, whose off-green concrete block walls radiate the characteristic fragrance of industrial-strength lasagna. But all my food was good, especially the minestrone soup. As for drinks, Gretchen ordered some sort of fruity sangria-type beverage that she found almost undrinkable due to its distinctive potpourri flavor. "I feel like I'm drinking a Hallmark store," she declared. I ended up having to finish it after drinking my "Italian margarita"; it was disgusting but I couldn't see it going to waste. My take on it was, "I feel like I'm giving cunnilingus to an old lady." Later, when walking by the Pier One outlet, I stuck my head inside long enough to realize that the whole store smelled exactly like that drink.
A downpour had started while we were in the Olive Garden, so after lunch we stayed out of the rain by navigating the entirely of the C-shaped King's Mall Plaza using its covered walkways. (I've often said that the King's Mall is the dreariest, most anachronistic in all of Kingston). Gretchen was hoping to buy a fleece, so we ducked into Marshalls's (also in King's Mall) and later the Sport's Authority (at the far more contemporary and upscale strip development directly across 9W and just south of Mavis), but found nothing.
Near Mavis (in that upscale strip development), we went into the Barnes and Noble to get coffee at the integrated Starbucks, and while there we hunted for the book Gretchen co-wrote with our friend Jenny. Finding five or six copies on a back shelf in the nature department, Gretchen took one of the books and placed it atop some conservative blowhard's latest ghost-written dreck on one of the "just released" islands.
We made it back to Mavis at the earliest possible time that our car could have been done (3:00), but we ended up having to wait until 5:00 for it to actually be done. Somehow we spent those two hours in the Mavis waiting area. I was watching something on the Mavis waiting room teevee (it was Antique Archælogy, a History Channel program about guys who try to buy antiques from old people with cluttered basements, attics, and garages). Meanwhile Gretchen read all that she could of the latest issue of the local paper the Daily Freeman, including the "funny pages" (it was my first spotting in the wild of Closer to Home since reading a devastating critique).
On the drive home in our freshly-worked-on car, we noticed that now the ABS and Brake System lights were on. Now we'll have to go through Mavis Hell one more time! Maybe in the future we should take our cars to the zoo and have monkeys work on them. Still, despite the fact that Mavis managed to eat up both Gretchen's day as well as my own, the experience was a lot better endured with a fellow sufferer.
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