Auto Dealer Service “Fun”

I have been spoilt. In Arizona, the major dealers all competed with each other to provide awesome customer service. As there was plenty of competition with the independent service shops, many who were excellent, they needed an edge to keep customers coming back.

I had become accustomed to fast internet, good coffee, fresh donuts and pastries, ample “quiet” comfortable chairs, and workstations to focus on doing my real work. I never minded spending a couple hours with them when I needed service.

Of course, here in California, I am in shock. Small, uncomfortable lounge area, bad coffee made by a machine, packaged pastries for free (but a vending machine), and a loud TV blaring gameshows and soap operas in the background.

Add to that prices that are about double for the same service in Arizona, and pushy upsell. I know I have a sports car, and I expect there to be additional service, but fuck me, you are taking advantage of me.

Since my extended warranty is long gone, it is time to find a local independent shop. Fortunately, in the San Jose area, I should be able to find someone who can treat my S2000 right.

Cycling in the Bay Area

From the first time I slung my leg over that second-hand Schwinn Stingray (banana seat and all), I have love bicycling. A happy day when I was able to start bicycling to school, and then getting serious about it after I finished with college, my happiest times were when my work schedule allowed me to get in 200+ miles a week. Last year, while living in Chandler, I got back in the saddle in a serious way, putting on 50 – 90 miles a week, even riding into the office.

Having moved back to San Jose, the place from which I hail originally, it is comforting to get back on the bicycle again here. Having spent time in the south San Jose area, I know a lot of good routes, and am taking advantage of them. Slowly getting back into shape.

After a lot of time in Arizona, riding where it is basically flat, and the biggest grade you see is the slight elevation gain on the irrigation canals, you get a bit spoilt. Of course, there was plenty of wind to add to the challenge.

Here in San Jose though, there are actual, honest-to-God HILLS. Holy shit batman, I am out of shape. The minor hump in Santa Teresa south of Bernal road almost makes me barf my lungs out. I used to think nothing about heading up Big Basin way and riding up to the top of Highway 9, north on Skyline, and then dropping down Page Mill road for a 40 mile loop.

Well, I will have to get back into the grind. Being almost 50 is hard enough.

A Tale of Two Apartments

When we first moved back to the Santa Clara area, we were put up at a newish apartment complex in Sunnyvale. When that month of free rent expired, we moved into an affordable apartment in South San Jose. This will compare and contrast these two experiences.

Sunnyvale: Avalon Apartments

The Avalon Apartments were built in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s. They are modern, well appointed and very functional. There was wired internet (although our relo package included Comcast Xfinity cable and internet), plenty of power outlets, and a reasonable floor plan. It was a 1 bedroom, so it was a bit cramped, but we dealt with it.

Located at Lawrence Expressway and the 101 freeway, it was built in a formerly heavy business district. So a lot of the amenities that you find in communities were missing. The nearest Safeway or Lucky’s supermarket was 4 – 5 miles away, there were plenty of fast food/lunch type places, but few real restaurants. Typical of what you experience in office-park hell, which is where this was located.

Read moreA Tale of Two Apartments

Public Bathroom Etiquette

A sort of gross topic today, I am going to discuss some of the oddities I have witnessed in the rest rooms at work. This is not solely my current gig, but instead it is a montage. If you are squeamish, navigate away now.

The Stall Snob

Most public restrooms have both normal stalls, as well as larger, handicap accessible stalls. Larger, they give you a little more privacy, and often a dedicated wash basin (sink).

There are people who will leave a restroom if the handicapped stall is occupied. (hint: they aren't handicapped) They will turn around and either go to a different restroom, or come back later.

You can tell they are stall snobs when they pull on the handicapped stall door to make sure it is occupied.

Is a little privacy really that important? I guess it is.

The Walk Through

At one place I worked, there were two halves of the building, and in the center were the mens' and womens' room. Opening on both sides, they became a freeway between the two halves of the building.

This in and of itself isn't a problem. In one door, and out the other. No big deal.

But add to that the fact that the cafeteria was on one side, and that if you wanted coffee, you had to go to the cafeteria.

This leads to the grossness. The steady stream of people walking through with empty mugs, and returning with full cups of coffee. Or with their microwaved lunch. Or with snacks from the vending machine. Through the bathroom, with people dropping deuces, and draining their bladders.

Eww.

Oh, and you are carrying you coffee, and you need to whiz? Set the cup on the urinal and drop your fly. As evidenced by the perpetual coffee rings on the top of the urinal.

The Hygiene Freak

Every company has some people who are super attentive to their hygiene. They brush after every meal, so they drag their toothbrush and floss into the bathroom. Grab a cup and brush your teeth. In a public bathroom sink.

Nasty.

The Talker

The advent of cell phones, and good wireless headsets mean that you can continue your conversation from the bathroom. There is nothing like taking a customer support call, and continuing the discussion in the loo.

Or to answer your freaking cell when you are dropping the kids at the pool.

This is rude to both the other users of the restroom, as well as to the person on the other end of the line. For fuck's sake, hang up the phone, and do your business.

Summary

Well, I could go on. There are endless odd happenings at public facilities. This is enough grossness for this evening.

Finally, our House is Sold

The saga continues, but some good news is in the air. About 6 weeks ago, we got the call that we had an offer for our house in Chandler. I didn’t get immediately excited, as we had been through this before without result.

The offer was less than I hoped for, and they wanted a couple of unreasonable requests, so I was thinking “not this shit again“. But I played nice. We countered, split the difference, and met them halfway with their requests.

They accepted the counter, and off to the races. They wanted to close on August 20th, and we of course had to go through the inspection, and the fixes. All this happened on schedule, and low and behold, on August 20th the transaction closed and was funded.

We ended up selling for $268K, (original offered at $280K), which netted us about $23K over what we paid in 2 years.

The bad news is that we made less than we hoped, and our down payment here is less than we expected. Alas, our budget for a house here will be about $100K less than we were planning. This will crimp our choices.

I guess we will have to sell our Tucson house to get us back into a comfortable price range. We have 11 months left on the lease we signed, so we aren’t in a rush.