Tuesday 30 June 2015

Me vs The Insurance Monopoly

You may remember a while back our truck was viciously attacked by a rogue deer. The brute leapt wildly out in front of our truck in what I can only imagine was a poorly conceived game of chicken, and it lost.

While the deer became less alive, our truck didn’t come out completely unscathed. Because of the moronic choices of a misguided deer, our bumper and headlight sustained irreparable damage, and honestly, we were lucky that no one was hurt. I hate deer.

This brings us to present-day. We’ve now been waiting 10 months for parts to come in to repair our truck. I realize that our weird little import isn’t the most common of vehicles, but seriously?!? Ten months? I could have flown to Japan, had a new vehicle made from scratch, shipped it over here on a boat, and brought it home in less time than it’s taken to not get my bumper fixed. 

I could have created an ENTIRE HUMAN in less time than it’s taken to not fix my truck.

Enter the insurance company.

Here in BC we suffer from an insurance company monopoly. There are technically other options, but really, there isn’t. You are required to deal first with the monopoly, and then you can opt for additional coverage elsewhere. I get that the ultimate goal was an attempt at insurance consistency, but what has actually happened is that customers are being painted into a really expensive corner.

At first the insurance company was all for covering the repair costs for the truck. We took it in, had the body shop assess the damage, and the parts were ordered. Then we waited. And waited. Then they called us to let us know the parts were coming. Then they weren’t coming anymore. Then they were. Then there was some kind of dock workers strike and the parts were stuck somewhere. Then they arrived damaged/the wrong part/were made of chicken/didn’t fit, pick an excuse. Suffice to say, there were delays.

So, now some ten months later we get a call. The local insurance monopoly has decided that getting the parts is just too hard, despite them not actually being the ones doing the “getting”. Details. We’ve been informed that they will no longer pay to have the parts brought in and installed, but will instead pay us out for some of the damages, and it’s up to us to source the parts and repair the vehicle. 

I’m guessing the payout will be somewhere in the realm of $7. It’s like the insurance company just gave up and said fuck it, you deal with it. 

I pay you for insurance so that when something happens to my car, and it isn’t just a write-off, you fix it. You shouldn’t get to piss off when the task at hand isn’t super easy and you don’t want to do it anymore. I pay you to deal with this shit so I don’t have to. But now I have to.

If I’d known 10 months ago that I was going to get strung along and then dropped on my ass when the level of inconvenience got too high, I would have gone a different route. I wish now that I’d had the foresight to collect the offending deer carcass and strap it to my bumper in homage to Mad Max and Thunderdome. It could serve as a warning to other deer about the dangers of being profoundly stupid. It would probably also act as a theft deterrent, because really, no one wants to steal a truck belonging to someone who would use a dead deer as a bumper.

So now I’m left (carcass-less) to find or make a bumper for an import vehicle that is difficult to get parts for, and to do the job that the insurance company doesn’t feel like doing, despite relentlessly taking my money to do so.

I’m hoping there is a special kind of hell devoted strictly to insurance companies.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Me vs Ants

I really, really hate ants. I think they are up there with snakes and spiders.

Spiders, while 8-legged nightmares, do not usually come at you in groups of 10,000. There are exceptions to that I'm sure, but there an not those exceptions for ants. They are always in teams, and those teams always bring other teams, and then you might as well accept that you now have 50,000 room mates. Snakes are just yucky. Enough said.

A few days ago I noticed an ant in the house. One little ant. I gave it the benefit of the doubt that it was only a lone ranger who had lost her way, and forcefully removed it from my kitchen and existence. The following evening, another couple of ants showed up. I wasn't happy. This meant that they were coming here on purpose. Bastards.

The next day, the rangers had become a more insidious wave of ants. Big ants. Not little ants. Really, really big ones.  I may have lost my shit at that point.

Ants ran the periphery of the house. They covered the back porch, they had the run of the downstairs, and were, disturbingly, crawling out from under the dishwasher like soliders storming the beaches of my kitchen.

Oddly though, while they were dicking around in every corner of the house, for some reason they didn't find the giant puddle of sugar water leaking from the hummingbird feeder. Not one of them. These ants were not good at anting. What the shit, ants? I thought you were supposed to be good at this.

To give my hatred of ants more backing (like that's really necessary), this was by no means the first time I've had to deal with an invading army of these disproportionately strong and resilient little creatures. In fact, out of the 4 places I've lived recently, 3 of them have been taken over at least once.

In our rental suite, we had a line of sugar ants that regularly made its way from the entry way, up the wall and into the ceiling. This happened every spring, and throughout the summer. I tried everything I could think of to get rid of them. I vacuumed them up, washed them away, tried house-safe poison, and once, in a fit of desperation, windexed them. Nothing lasted for long. I finally lost my mind when they made it from the entrance way into my couch at the other end of the house. That was the end of both our tenancy and our couch.

After a brief reprieve from ants in our 2nd story condo, we bought a house. The family room exited into the backyard through a set of beautiful french doors. The backyard was infested with ants. It was mainly covered by a patio, and I can imagine that said patio was mainly held up by ants. Every year we fought the good fight to rid the backyard of the ant incursion. We had some successes and ultimately many failures. I took solace in that fact that these ones kept to the outside, so I could tolerate that.

Until they didn't. 

It was a bit surreal. The night before the defence walls figuratively crumbled, I dreamt the floor was covered in bugs. I got up the next morning and had a small heart attack because it was. The entire living room floor was moving. Creepy doesn't really do it justice.

I spent the morning corralling a toddler, trying to get ready for work, and vacuuming like mad woman. As best I could tell the bastards were making their way in under the french doors. I taped up the bottom as much as possible to keep any further hoards out, and went to work. When I got home I pretty much raided the shit out of my backyard. I think I emptied two cans of the stuff around the doors just to be safe. They never had the nerve to enter the house again, but I'm sure they are still out there. Waiting.

Which brings us back to the present-day ant army.  They were coming in, but we didn't know where.

And so began the hunt.

Eventually we discovered that there was a hole in the side of the house. Like, a pretty significant, mouse-could-get-through-it-easily sized hole. Given that this is a new house, let's say I was....unhappy. It looked like the 2x4 they used to build that wall wasn't actually long enough, as it ended about two inches off the ground. This left a nice gap at the bottom, and subsequently, and ant highway. 

Rather than, say, fixing it, the builders just put some siding over it. Poorly. This also probably goes a long way to explaining why it got so cold downstairs...there was a FUCKING HOLE IN THE WALL!

Anyway,  once we found the giant ant run, we needed to plug it. I guarded the hole with my vacuum while Husband found something to fill it with.

The best thing we could find on short notice was a tube of silicone caulk.
Which is pronounced "cock".
Which is what I call the builder who left a giant fucking hole in our house.
Call me if you want to know who not to hire to build your house.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Me vs Mission Creep

It started innocently enough. We have septic tank lids in the yard that needs to be covered.

The offending septic cover
The builders we hired were supposed to build a little wooden cover for them, however like in so many things, they failed to do that and told me that they had left us enough wood that we could figure it out for ourselves. Ass hats.

So this left us with a bit of a dilemma. What to do with the unsightly septic lids in the middle of the yard? If we simply grassed over them then when the inevitable time came to drain them we would have start an archeological dig to find them. Obviously we should build a deck over them so we could have access to them if we needed them and they would still be safely covered.

Then the deck got paced out. Then it got bigger. Then it got a hot tub.
This is the definition of mission creep, and I have lived it.

Ultimately, this evolution of my building plan has one major drawback. I can’t afford to get someone to build this for me, and I’m not a carpenter. Nor is Husband. This is ironically the reason we wanted the original septic covers build by the builder who basically gave us the finger and told us to do it ourselves. So now in order to spite them, we’ve tripled the complexity of the project. I’m not sure this is winning.

Because I’m not a patient person, now that we had decided to do this, I wanted to start immediately. Husband drew up the plans, and figured out what materials we needed. Since I was headed to the city, I said I would take the trailer and pick up the cement blocks we needed for the foundation.

This seemed like an easy enough task; take the truck and trailer, pack up the toddler, find the building yard, get the bricks.

Nothing is ever that simple.

First, I had an almost-2yr old with me. This complicates every task by at least 120% without question.  And it's always very loud. Then it took me 5 circuits of the block to actually FIND the place. It was only then that I realized there were two places, and I had pulled into the wrong one. Thanks people who have a production location AND a retail location one block away from each other and not uniquely named or specified on the website. That's super helpful. 

I also had a utility trailer. I have never driven with a utility trailer. More importantly, I have never backed up a utility trailer.

Backing up a utility trailer in public is kind of like being a teenager experiencing your first hangover. You feel like shit and everyone around you is laughing at your suffering while trying not to be obvious about it. But they suck at being subtle. 

After deftly completing a 62-point turn, I loaded about 1000 lbs of cement blocks into the trailer with a maximum weight capacity of approximately 1002 lbs. The trailer dropped about 3 feet closer to the ground than it should have been. This caused me some stress.

I was pretty much convinced that the trailer was going to fall apart within 2 blocks of the supply yard, and God help me if there were any speed bumps. I wouldn’t have cleared them.

And so with the refined speed of a two-legged gazelle, I began the expedition home.
The little trailer that could

For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of being chased by an overloaded utility trailer, here is what I discovered:
     1. Rain doesn’t help you slow down. In fact, it reduces your already shitty ability to stop. This isn’t news to me, but when towing a trailer it becomes frighteningly evident.
      2. My anxiety level increases in parallel with the truck’s temperature gauge.
      3. Do not schedule your first time wrangling a trailer on a day when you will also need to race the clock to pick your child up from a rural bus stop. Just don’t.
      4. Toddlers should not be invited. They yell at you all the time for no reason and do nothing to help you load, unload, or back up. But they would like you to pick up the toy car they just hurled across the vehicle. No not that one. The OTHER one.  The one you can’t reach.
      5. Any deer that chooses to leap in front of my vehicle will be run down. This goes for small rodents trying to beat the train as well (See item 1, don’t worry, it lived).

Basically, it was a long drive home going 80% of the speed I would normally be able to travel, and I spent most of the time wishing I had opted to have this shit delivered.

I imagine the line up of vehicles behind me was collectively thinking something similar.  Eat a bag of dicks big trucks; I hate you and your towing capacities.

Finally home. Now to actually BUILD the deck.
I'll call it a work in progress.