Let’s Talk About Money

For all that is holy, how horrifying.

Let me preface this post with the understanding that I had, for my entire life, an extremely dysfunctional relationship with money.

My narcissist father was a degenerate gambler. Many paychecks were lost on the same day they were paid.

So, my mom had to work two jobs.

She was a temp at Merrill Lynch. Although back in the seventies, it was Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner and Smith. She also worked at Sonitrol. Sonitrol was a security company where they’d install cameras and employees would watch those cameras. My mom did that. She had some really funny stories. I should ask her about that.

Anyway, I learned at a very young age, if I had any money, then I should spend it because if I didn’t, my dad would eventually get around to stealing it to bet on horses.

This is a terrible lesson to learn and thus started my unhealthy understanding of money.

I unlearned those lessons. Or, to be fair, I am still unlearning them. It took decades of struggling with money to get to a place where money is no longer jockeying for the number one spot on my anxiety playlist.

I still have to work on my habit of indulging in retail therapy. I mean, it’s not horrible. On a scale of “Essential Oils” to “New rugs for every room in the house” I am usually at “Buy all the cat toys” or maybe “Just one more sweater and everything will be perfect”.

This doesn’t mean I’m Scrooge McDuck or anything. Not only can’t I swim in money, I don’t even have enough to soak my feet in. But I am prepared if something goes sideways.

Well, something went sideways. And I am so pissed.

We are planning a trip to Tennessee soon. I can’t way to have a few days of relaxing with our friends.

So, we had a few things we needed to address before our trip. One thing being, our car developed a slight shimmy. Back in February, we had a little accident that destroyed two tires and had them replaced. They shimmy started after then, so it needed an alignment. Also, we were due for an oil change and needed a little brake work. No big deal.

Randy wanted to take our car to a place that rhymes with Liar Miscounters because we’ve taken our car there before for maintenance type work. This place is about 30 miles north of where we live now, but it’s fairly close to my job.  So, we decided that Randy would drop me off at work on Thursday and he’d take the car in for service.

Our car was finished around Noon. Randy made it about half a mile when our car’s engine started knocking. Knocking in that horrifying way that tells you all your spare money is about to disappear.

He took the car back, where the engine experts at Tire Discounters informed Randy that they did nothing wrong and that he shouldn’t drive the car and to have it towed to a dealership.

Let me set the scene of my Thursday afternoon. My dearest friend at work retired on Friday. I am going to miss her so bad and I have no idea how I’m going to get through my days without her in the cubicle next to me. I spent most of the day trying not to cry because my friend is leaving and trying not to cry because there was a fairly horrifying problem I had to deal with on Thursday morning.

Then Randy called me to tell me that the repairs cost 610.04 and that the car was no longer drivable.

Wait. What? Wait wait wait.

Randy was trying to set up a tow and trying to find a dealership that could look at our car. I sat at my desk and stared at the wall while thinking “What the fuck are we supposed to do now?”

How was a going to get home from work? Did I just live at work now? I mean, there’s vending machines. I guess I could live there if I had to.

Then I came to the point in absorbing this news where I got pissed. They didn’t do anything wrong? What the shuddering fuck? Or course they did something. Our car’s engine was fine. We had no engine troubles. We drove there fine. They took the car out for a drive to experience the shimmy and there were no engine problems then. They did the work they did and our car was no longer drivable.

I called the corporate office and got voicemail. I asked for a call back.

By the time they called back, my anger had gotten to the point where the angry tears were at the ready. I explained what had happened in an extremely agitated manner. Once I got through the story, I apologized to the woman who called me back. This problem was not her fault. She was kind and understanding and promised that she would escalate the issue.

I also made a few calls to local Kia dealership’s service departments. The ones that would actually take my car said it would be at least 5 weeks before they could even look at our car.

5 weeks. Okay, so that is problematic. 

Randy called our son Joey and Joey went to pick him up and then they would pick me up. My frantic call to corporate got immediate attention, because when they were about to drive away, the manager came running out and stopped them. He said he got a call from his regional manager and they went back through what they did and realized they put the wrong kind of oil filter in our car. He asked to keep the car overnight so they could fix the problem.

At this point, I didn’t want the car anymore. Even if they fixed it? Anytime an engine starts knocking, I feel like that engine is no longer reliable. But at least they were finally taking responsibility.


I had to work from home on Friday because I didn’t have a fucking car. I missed my friend’s last day at work. They fucked my car up and now I don’t ever get to experience her last day. I mean, that wasn’t the worst part about this, but damn, I felt pretty bitter over that.

We waited until late morning on Friday to call Tire Discounters to see what was going on. They were still looking into it and promised a call back within 1 to 2 hours.

At 2:30 that afternoon, I called the manager back.

He proceeded to tell me that unfortunately for us, they hadn’t done anything wrong. He said the engine knock wasn’t as bad and that it only happened in reverse or when idling but the car was definitely drivable.

I sincerely couldn’t believe what I was hearing. We had NO knocks before taking the car in. And how come it went from not drivable to drivable when there was still a knock? He continued telling me it wasn’t their fault and they wouldn’t be doing anything more.

I ended that frustrating phone call and called the corporate office back. I also emailed them and tagged them on Twitter.

I was told a regional manager would call Saturday morning.

First thing Saturday morning, Joey drove Randy and I back to our car. We had a plan. We were taking it to the place where we’ve bought our last 3 cars, trade it in and get another car. They said as long as it was running, they’d give us the value of the car, which was perfect because we weren’t upside down on the loan. I went online to see what they had available, picked one and told them to have it ready. It’s an upgrade and a little more expensive than we would usually consider, but I needed a goddamn car.

Randy and I drove our car away and stopped to clean it out. There was a slight knock that came and went, but other than that, it seemed fine.

We cleaned out the car and drove it to the car place. The woman who was working with us asked if she could take our car out for a spin to see what the knock sounded like.

She didn’t make it out of the parking lot. The car died while in drive and never started again.

So yeah, getting the blue book value of the car was now off the table.

They were willing to offer me 3500.00 less than the blue book value which also took us underwater on the loan. There was just no fucking way.

I asked them to run the financing without a trade in. I had to put money down to get a decent rate.

To recap: We took our car in for minor maintenance and ended up having to buy a new car. I had to use my “new stove” money for the money down and my car payment is 100.00 higher than it used to be. I also have an extra car payment and owe 10 grand on a car that may have a completely destroyed engine.

By the time the regional manager called us, we were driving away in our new car that I hadn’t planned on buying. Randy talked and that was for the best. He was calm and spoke without including a single sarcastic comment. At that point, I was speaking in nothing but sarcasm.

The regional manager is having our car towed to a dealership and will arrange to have it looked at sooner than 5 weeks from now.

At this point, I have no idea what will happen. I can assure you, though, that it is in Tire Discounter’s best interest to fix what they fucked up. I will be a thorn in their side just on principle. I have a stubborn streak. I don’t call on it often, but when I do? It is loyal.

This really does have something to do with my relatively new and definitely healthier relationship with money.

I just got here, you guys, I didn’t need to have something stupid and unexpected to derail my plans. I have more home repairs to make. I have projects. I just watched them all get moved back and I’m angry about it.

I am also grateful that we have proven that an issue like this is more inconvenient than devastating. After living so many years in “devastating”.

And now, we are not quite so far removed from devastating. But it will be okay.

I’m still mad though.

I probably should have figured out this part of adulting way before now.

I’m a late bloomer

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  • Oh, this is maddening! I wish you all the best in your joust with Corporate…
    I’m still reeling in shock from the rape & pillage of my eminent domain buyout by my Great State of Texas; nevertheless gotta get on back to work this AM.

  • Holy shit, nothing will ever prepare you for this sort of thing no matter how old you get, at least as long as you maintain a certain level of trust that “professionals” will do their jobs properly. And, let’s face it, unless each of us could figure out how to completely build a car from scratch and repair anything that goes wrong with it, not to mention all the other things we rely on other people to do, a certain level of trust is going to be necessary. Even if you lived at work you’d still have to depend on someone to stock the vending machines, although those people, in my experience anyway, tend to be pretty reliable. Someone who’s too incompetent to stock a vending machine has to do something simpler, like working at Tire Discounters.
    I hope you can still make the trip to Tennessee. You need it and deserve it.

  • Was your left palm itching at any time during the previous few days? I’ve always found that to be a sign of money unexpectedly owed. (Right palm, money in). Never fails. Left palm itch the day FEMA called me and told me the money they gave me to help pay for my husbands funeral was wanted back. Some fine print. Good thing I kept it separate and didn’t spend it.

    My childhood was slightly different because my parents grew up during the depression and my mom learned to squirrel away small sums of money in her purses (upwards of about 15). So after she passed, going through pockets and purses amassed about $100 – a habit I picked up as well. Except I keep it all in one place.

    I’m hoping you can still make the trip to see Mountain Girl and your repair place makes good on your old, trusty reliable car.

  • I used to do pretty much all of the maintenance on the cars I drove. Brakes squeaking? Get some new pads and put them in. Battery won’t charge any more? Get out the VOM and find out if the alternator’s bad. Brake pedal goes all the way to the floor as we’re backing out of the driveway to go to Oakland and see the Who?
    New master cylinder when we get back (that’s right, I’ll see the Who or die trying), water pump dies on the Honda Briana got from her mom? It’ll take all weekend and an extra trip to Auto Zone after I fucked up the first rubber seal, but we were driving again Monday.
    Then I had a stroke.
    My brother was a professional mechanic, but he died back in the nineties. My friend John is the finest mechanic I have ever known, but getting him to fix your broken shit is a hit or miss deal, everyone else also knows how good he is.
    My friend Rob runs a wrecking yard, and he’s the one who got Briana her car for $500 when I got my inheritance. it needed a radiator and a head gasket, but it’s a Mercedes 190e, and it has been fairly reliable for a thirty year old car.
    We had it smogged last month, and the mechanic found a split in a hose in the cooling system, and charged us sixty dollars to cut two inches off of said hose and slide the clamp up so it works again.
    It needed to be done, but sort of felt like we got hosed. That, added to the month we were late registering it made the entire price of the little green sticker $400. I am just now getting over the hole that blew in our budget. Almost over it. No grapes for three more weeks but we get cookies again over it.
    So, yeah, I can make things work on a surprisingly small income, but small things that go wrong can be catastrophic. Good luck with your broken car, I really hope you get some satisfaction out of those folks.

  • Not to be gossipy, but in this case, it’s warranted! I live in Virginia. My husband has been an automotive technician for over 25 years. Since 2010, he has been the master tech at a smalltown, family-run tire, and repair facility…until, in March, the owner sold out to, yep, you guessed it, a large tire store conglomerate from OH called, Liar Miscounters AKA Tire Discounters! My husband has loyal customers because he is not one that will rape you when you come in for a simple oil change. The upselling of services, the increased labor, and parts cost, and many other bullshit additions to a business they said “would not change that much,” were more than my hubby’s morals could take. He quit after six weeks under the new owners and it’s actually been a positive choice. So thank you Liar Miscounters, but also fuck you for being crooked af!

By Michelle


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