So this weekend we finally moved into a much bigger, nicer, cooler, hotter, brand new house with everything we need and most of what we would want. Fortunately (depending upon your point of view), it is only about four miles from our old rabbit hutch so we saved a lot of money by renting a 26ft truck and moving ourselves.
This was a mixed blessing at best as there is a vast amount of time, labor and stress in packing up all of your own stuff, including all of the honking big furniture items, and ferrying them across town without professional help. My 18 year-old daughter is gone to Americorps, my 15 year-old son was at his mother’s for the weekend, my parents are out of town, my brother just moved back to California, so it was Dawn, me, and her parents doing it all. Yow.
But you all have done that at one point or another, so let me get to the story. As I mentioned, we rented a 26ft truck for 24 hours to haul the big stuff and everything else we could stuff in there. Dawn’s father and I handled the furniture and appliances without particular incident, and we slept for the first time in our new house Saturday, exhausted but satisfied and relieved to be in.
The truck was funtional – barely. There were no dash lights, as I first noticed in the dark with a full load, driving from our old to our new house. The gears were, shall we say, imprecise, and getting it into 4th brought back grim memories of football practice and blocking sleds, but noisier. There was no parking brake either, but they warned me of that when I rented the truck.
But despite these imperfections, all was reasonably well until I hopped in to take it back Sunday morning. Our new house has a long, steep driveway, and is on a busy two-lane road, so to back out of the driveway you must be vigilant, quick and efficient. I eased the rear end of the truck down to the edge of the drive, then cut the wheel sharply to back onto he road. Just as I was cutting the wheel all the way to the right, the brakes gave out, the pedal dropped to the floor, the truck lurched back onto the road.
I pumped the brake rapidly with all I had and it suddenly caught a bit, slowing just enough to keep me out of the deep ditch on the other side of the road. But I was stuck in the mud nonetheless, very neatly blocking the road.
As the Sunday morning traffic backed up on both directions, I grabbed the phone, dialed 911, then jumped out to direct traffic up around the truck, over a corner of our new lawn and the bottom of our driveway. Many glared, some smiled and looked sympathetic, a couple offered help.
The police got there very quickly and blocked off the road in both directions, called a tow, and reassured me that all would be well, which it eventually was.
The Sunday truck-rental employee was very sympathetic and offered me essentially free rental, which I accepted. Obviously, given that I was warned about the emergency brake, I never should have accepted the truck in the first place.
I got a call later in the afternoon from the manager, who asked if I was going to pay for the tow – he said he couldn’t find anything wrong with the brake. I almost blew my milk out my nose. I politely said no.
The district manager called me today to discuss the situation – I am on hold right now. Stay tuned…
Dawn Olsen has more on the topic here, including some choice comments from other satisfied customers.