Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Latest Adventure

I had plans to drive the 400 miles to my mother's house this month with my husband or son to pick up my mother's car and some more valuables before putting her house on the market.  However, both my husband and son were booked up and didn't have the time to go with me.  As a result, I flew into Los Angeles, took a taxi to her house and started packing up more of her stuff that I didn't want to be stolen during open houses and real estate tours.  I'm not good about flying, driving, or being a passenger in fast moving cars, so I had to load up on my anti-anxiety pills.

Once I got some stuff packaged together, I went into the garage to unlock my mother's car, but the key fob didn't respond.  I unlocked the car with the key, but the ignition wouldn't start.  This made no sense to me, because my mother had just paid Triple AAA to put a brand new battery in her car in February.  I had the receipt.  I called Triple AAA for help, explaining that they just put a battery with a 3-year warranty in her car that only lasted 3 months.

They were going to send someone out to take a look, until they found out that my mother passed away.  Then they said that I couldn't use her card, nor could they transfer her membership to me.  They weren't going to make good on that warranty simply because the member passed away!  What bastards!  They tried to sell me a new membership, but told me that I couldn't use it that day.  I said, "Well, the car is broken down now, and I need help now, so if you can't help me, then I don't want the membership."

I called my mother's neighbor to ask for a ride to Radio Shack so that I could replace the battery on the fob key, hoping the problem was as simple as that.  Some cars won't start if they don't detect the fob.  It's a security feature.  The neighbor drove me up, I replaced the fob battery, he drove me back, and the fob still wasn't responding.  He said the car battery was probably dead then, and he brought his portable charger over to charge it up.  We let it charge all afternoon and overnight, but the battery was still dead.

We began thinking that something else was wrong with the electrical system.  My husband tried talking me through checking the fuses over the phone, but by then I had lost patience.  I needed to get this car up and running by morning or I would be stranded in L.A. and my husband wouldn't be able to go to work, because he'd have to stay home to take care of the animals.

I called my mother's mechanic and explained the situation.  He knew my mother well.  She had been bringing her cars to him for over 40 years.  She lovingly called her mechanics "her Arabs", as her town has a strong middle eastern presence.  He said he would call a tow truck to tow the car to him and he'd try to fix it, but he closed at noon on Saturday, and if he didn't have the parts, I'd have to stay in town until Monday.  He was the only mechanic at the shop.  It didn't sound promising.

However, the tow truck driver was awesome.  He lowered his flatbed like a ramp at the end of her driveway, then rolled the car backwards out of her garage, down her driveway and right up the ramp.  He chained it down, raised the ramp flat, and we were out of there in five minutes.  It turned out that the mechanic was just sitting around with not much to do, so the tow truck driver rolled her car off his truck and down the driveway right into a bay at the shop.  Within two minutes, the mechanic had her battery charged and the car started up.  He said that battery Triple AAA gave her was no good and we'd need a new one.

I told him I had to drive the car 400 miles in the morning, so he installed the new battery, put air in the tires, checked the oil, filled all the fluids that were getting low, and had me out of there in a jiffy.  When all was said and done, he didn't even charge me for most of his services, and the battery cost less than the one my mother bought with her "Triple AAA discount".  I gave him a big tip and thanked him for taking care of my mother for 40 years.

I made it home safely without any further complications.  I was a bit paranoid that a cop would pull me over and want to know why I'm driving a car that isn't registered to me.  I mailed off the forms to transfer the pink slip, but haven't received anything back yet.  Part of the reason why I had to rush in getting the car across state lines was because its registration is going to end in July.  Once that happens, if I don't have the pink slip transferred, no one can drive it because no one can register it other than my mother.  I didn't want the car to get trapped in her garage, and then have us sell her house with her car in the garage.

I am now starting to get letters from people saying that they can't honor my beneficiary status until they receive the final death certificate that contains cause of death.  The latest I can get that is in October.  Since my mother's cause of death was undetermined due to the fact that she had so many health problems, and any of them could have caused her death, the Coroner can take up to six months before issuing the final certificate, which means I can't have access to any of my inheritance until then.  In the meantime, I'm still paying her bills out of my pocket while I'm unemployed. 

I'm unsure why they can't just issue the certificate.  They completed the autopsy last month, and all they have to do is fill in the paperwork.  The government sure has a wonderful way of setting things up so that people get screwed to the full extent.


Breathe said...

Dieing is way too complicated.

Glad you had some help from the mechanic at least!

fernvalley01 said...

Glad the mechanic and tow truck drivers were at least kind and helpful. It is amazing to me all you have had to face all with the loss of your mom so recently

Grey Horse Matters said...

There's way too many rules to deal with after the death of someone, in my opinion. After we informed all the billing companies my mother used before her death they kept calling for payment and sending bills. We finally told them she'd moved and gave them the address of the cemetery. That stopped their harassment.

At least the mechanic was helpful and got you on your way.

Dreaming said...

Geesh...if it's not one thing, it's another. I'm gonna have a talk with my dad and tell him he is NOT ALLOWED to die!
Glad your trip home went smoothly, after all the hassles on the front end.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, car troubles when you need them least! Great tow driver and mechanic, thought.

I want to thank you again for sharing this with us. Your experiences have motivated me to get things in order and I have been quite busy!

Linda said...

Wow, three cheers for the mechanic! You should tell us his name in case anyone wants to support an honest businessman in the LA area. Pisses me off about AAA. We let our membership go a few years ago. I had no idea death was so complicated. You'd think businesses would be prepared for this by now and know better than to harass grieving family members. It's sickening to hear your experience.

Mikey said...

I can't believe all the stuff you've had to go thru. The car... gah. AAA I've found to be a huge waste of money.
As for the death certificate, my mom said it was very difficult to get my grandma's, and she's told me about the hassles. Yours seems to be more so, since they had to do the autopsy. Boy, they make it hard on everyday folks. How is a person supposed to make it in this country and not go completely insane? Although when I feel like this I look at places like Joplin, MO this morning, and I'm pretty grateful for what I've got. Make that very grateful :)
It's gonna get better. It will.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Holy crap! It's a sin that the death of a loved one can be so painfully long and drawn out like that just because of all the ridiculous demands and delays for paperwork.

Shame on AAA! They should have honored your Mother's membership and stood behind their work. I will never be a customer of their company just because of all of the negative word of mouth.

It's wonderful to read about a small company that is as honorable
and respectful as "The Arab" Mechanic is.


ellie k said...

people reading your blog should take notice and get there papers in order, we have a living will and it spells everything out.

The D-Meister said...

It really sucks that you're having to do all this. Even though you're the one who takes care of me, let me know if you need anything.

Cheryl Ann said...

I'm VERY disappointed to hear that about AAA. Her membership was paid for a full year, so unless that year is up, her membership should have been honored. I mean, what? They get to keep the money? Bastards. I'm sorry to hear of all your problems with your mom. When my dear uncle died, my doctor, who is also his doctor, got everything done without an autopsy. She just listed "heart failure" and was done. He, too, had a lot of complications, it turns out. Sending you a (((BIG HUG)))...from Southern California!

achieve1dream said...

Yep the government likes to screw us over. And big time companies do too. It's really irritating. Sorry you're having to go through all of this. You're doing really well though and it will all be over soon. Keep up the good work and please take care of yourself.