I arrived in Edmonton around 5.00 pm on Saturday, finding my host's home without too much difficulty.
Inger is a woman I worked with way back when in Vancouver, we have kept in touch over the years. She and her husband moved to Edmonton shortly after I moved to Toronto, to better jobs, more affordable housing, and wonder of wonders, a way better social life. They pay the price of a nasty winter for all that. I have been promising to visit ever since they moved here, finally I've made it.
I told Inger about the dog at the rest stop and wondered if it would be rescued or euthanized. Inger said, Around here they don't euthanize dogs. They'll find a home for him.
I planned to stay a day or two to visit before heading on. Sunday morning we woke to sleet, mixed snow and rain. It only got worse.
My host---who was off to a course at 7.45 am---said, No snow, that's just Fat Rain.
She refused to admit to the possibility of the white stuff.
Sure as heck looked like snow to me.
Inger left for a conference in Vancouver on Monday and I got an invitation to stay in Calgary on my trip east. Although making my trip slightly longer it worked well with my itinerary plans so I packed up to leave the same day as Inger. On her way to the airport Inger was surfing the net on her Crackberry and found a catalytic heater she thought would make my nights on the road a little more comfortable. She sent the info to me and I looked a little further and discovered that a nearby Canadian Tire had such a beast so I hopped in the truck to go pick it up.
Turns out that sometime since I arrived in Edmonton, the windshield wiper motor switch on my truck gave out. Not a good thing when it is snowing, it meant I had to physically hold the switch on to get the wipers to work which is hard to do when you are signalling a turn and then attempting to actually make the turn.
So, I returned to the house and woke up Inger's husband Dale, who is working night shift this week. He was gracious about being woken up and immediately got on the phone looking for a garage that would repair my truck toute de suite.
This was the first snow of the season here, which means most of the city was trying to get into a garage to get their snow tires on. Trying to find one that would fix a wiper motor switch the same day was kind of out to lunch. Nevertheless he tried, and managed to find a garage that would do it the next day. Dale went back to bed and at the appointed hour got up and went off for his night shift. The idea was that when he returned at 6.30am we would then drive the truck to the garage.
However, we did not write down the name and address of the garage, and sure enough, we both forgot where we had the appointment. In a mad scramble at 7.00am we found another garage that would "take a look" at the truck. When we got there though they were booked up and couldn't even look, they sent us off to another garage further out of town. That garage said it could do the job almost right away, however Dale was exhausted and needed to sleep before his next shift, so the earliest we could pick up the truck was considerably later in the day.
The garage called to give me their cost estimate: $350. The switch is inside the steering wheel column, making it a labour intensive job.
Then they called back to say that they had broken something inside the column and would have to replace the entire column.
Then they called back to say that they couldn't find a steering wheel column for my truck. Still later they called to say that they had found one at a wrecking yard, but it was going to be different from my original steering wheel column (something called a slant column), and that they were having trouble removing it from the vehicle it was in at the wrecking yard, so they were very sorry but they would not be able to finish the job until the next day.
My invitation to stay in Calgary is fairly open-ended, they even went so far as to say that if I got there after they were planning to go to Vancouver, they would leave the key at their neighbour's so I could stay over even if they were not home. Who knows when I'll get my truck back. Or what the new steering column is going to be like. I do know that the cost is going to be higher than the original estimate, but the fellow at the garage thinks he can keep it down to only a $50 increase.
He gave me a bit of a rant about car companies that discontinue perfectly good truck models and then don't keep up parts inventories for them. As if we can all afford to buy a new vehicle every couple of years. He expressed some admiration that I had kept this particular truck going for as long as I have, and some chagrin at failing to support me in that endeavour. But he hoped this substitute slant column would be acceptable.
I sure hope it does not have one of those safety air bag thingies in it.
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