AAA: The towing from hell.

So, my jeep started having trouble with the clutch in the Liberty Tubes, and having seen this before, I realized that it was probably losing clutch fluid. I planned to just drop it at the shop at 15th in the South Side, and hike it home from there. Sadly, 4 blocks shy of the shop the last of the fluid left, and I could no longer get the jeep into gear. I pulled the car over to the side and called AAA at 10:20pm.

“Expect a 2 hour wait right now.”
“OK, it’s cold, so I’ll head over to somewhere warm to wait. Just make sure I know when it’s coming.”
“No problem!”

I went to a nice warm bar, had some food and a cider while I waited.

At 11:25pm, I get a text saying the tow truck is on the way, so I head over to the jeep to wait.

and wait.

at 12:40am, I call AAA again, “Hey, where’s this tow truck?”
“It’s about 10 minutes out.”
“OK, I’ve been waiting in the cold for an hour, any reason I got a text so early?”
“The truck started to respond to your call after it dropped off the last vehicle, but it had to drop the last vehicle off an hour out of town.”
“Oh, where is it now?”
“The 6th street bridge.”
“Why would it be on the 6th Street Bridge coming from an hour out of town? Well, no matter, I’ll wait.”

and wait.

at 1:20am, I call AAA again. “OK, I’m really really cold, and shivering now, and I’ve been waiting for this tow truck now for 1.5 hours. Where is it?”
“He had to respond to a call just around the corner from you, but he’s just finishing up there and will be to you.”
“Wait, what? But he was coming here, why didn’t he come here?”
“The other call was older than yours. You need to be patient.”
“But why would I get told he was coming when he wasn’t?”
“Look, he’ll be there any minute now. Just be patient.”

I’m not sure what happened here (it was late and I was starting to pass out in the cold so my memory is fuzzy), but I got transferred to another rep who was much nicer after this, and she did get concerned about my well being and suggested that I authorize the tow truck to pick up my car without me there. OK, I did that.

I called a Lyft, and he got me at 1:50am. I saw the tow truck pull up as I got into the Lyft, so we went over to talk to him.. he said he’d take my car the 4 blocks to the garage. OK, great.

I got home and passed out. Somehow dragged myself out of bed in the morning, and at 8am was entering the number for the garage into my phone when it started ringing.

“Hello, this is AAA calling to inform you that a tow truck is on its way to pick up your car.”

WHAT? The robosystem suggested I dial 0 for an operator, which I did, then waited an hour on hold.

After an hour, I got annoyed, hung up, and called the regular number and got through to someone right away.

“OK, the tow truck is on its way to the South Side Giant Eagle to pick up your car right now.”
“OK, let me explain that I am really angry right now. [Details of what had happened overnight.] It has now been over 10 hours since I first called for a tow, and it has not yet happened. And now I find out my car isn’t even where I left it. What is going on?”
“The tow truck couldn’t find a parking lot or street parking to put your car at, so they took it to another location.”
(They could have called me and I would have said it is totally OK for them to put it in front of the garage doors, but of course…. the theme of this whole thing is lack of communication.)
“OK, look, this is beyond ridiculous. Why was this not relayed to me?”
“I don’t know. But the tow truck is there right now to take it to the garage.”

I head into work (another Lyft, sigh). When I get into work, i have some stuff to do, but at 11am I call the garage. They haven’t seen the Jeep. WTH.

I call AAA.
“OK, at this point I need to let you know I am livid. It has now been over 12 hours to tow my car 4 blocks, and this has not happened yet. Furthermore, my car has been left without my knowledge in another location. I’d like to know why it is that no one is informing me about what is going on with it, and why it has not yet been towed to the garage? Because I am tempted to call the police and report my car as a stolen vehicle at this point.”
This rep was fortunately sympathetic and she tracked down what was going on, removed this as a service call against my plan, and apologized that the tow trucks were not communicating the status to me (neat trick, blaming the tow agencies AAA is supposed to represent and interface for me.) Turns out that the tow truck broke down, so they had to send out another one.
“OK, look, I get that tow trucks break down, but this was not communicated to me at all. I am left wondering where my car is, and remember that we are over 12 hours of my car not reaching its destination 4 blocks from its origin.”
Again, side-winding apologies were made.

At 1pm, I call AAA, “Has my car been towed yet?”
“I am unable to find that information, I’ll have a towing dispatch superviser get back in touch with you about that.”
I call the garage, they finally have my Jeep. I don’t expect to ever hear from the dispatcher at this point.

So  I now realize that I pay AAA to just press a button and claim no responsibility for what happens to my car. I am going to switch to a different roadside assistance provider.


A Couple of Big Announcements

I promised this in the last post, but missed my “couple weeks” deadline, sorry about that!

In any case, here is announcement #1: I was cast as The Baronness in The Grand Duke by The Pittsburgh Savoyards. This is double cast, so keep an eye on the site for which days I’ll be performing this role. But also know I am cast with someone who is absolutely super phenomenal, so you can’t go wrong seeing her as well! I am really excited for this role because I get to play someone very different from any previous roles; and someone who is entirely unlike me. It’ll be a challenge! But I am performing with an amazing cast of great people too.

As for announcement #2: Cryptic Canticles will be putting on The Medium next year. We’re still undergoing the early planning for this, but we have decided this should be done finally. It’s going to be a major undertaking putting together an opera ourselves!

More on these later, but I am now very excited for what is to come in 2018.

Upcoming Holiday shows (and teasers)

Hi all!

Just to let you know, I’m singing with the Renaissance City Choirs for this holiday season, and we’re doing two concerts. One is with the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra this Saturday at First Presbyterian Church in Edgewood. We’re singing some familiar carols and Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata during this concert with the Edgewood Symphony, and they’ll continue with their own works (and also with soloist Robert Frankenberry!) Tickets can be obtained online for $15.

We’ll then have our own main holiday concert on December 9th at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. We will be once again singing the carols and the Pinkham, but also will sing many other works of humorous or touching natures. Of course our traditional audience-participation 12 Days of Christmas will be part of the show! It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to support the GLBTQ community. Tickets can be obtained online for $25.

Lastly, I have a couple of big announcements coming up in the next two weeks… including some great news from my Cryptic Canticles group!

Update! General news about Gwen.

So, for those who were following my surgery recovery path, I am recovered. I’ve been back on the bike and even went for a swim today! In fact, two weeks ago I rode a 25 mile course with PedalPgh… that hurt, but I’m glad I was able to complete it. It was the up that killed me!

In other news, I’ll be in Pittsburgh Savoyard’s HMS Pinnafore in October. I do have tickets for $15 a piece, contact me if you’d like one! I accept Paypal and can leave tickets at Will Call.

I am also in the Renaissance City Choir‘s Holiday concert coming up in December.

Dracula continues to go well, though it’s very busy right now. We’re in the last month for recording, but the month of October is half the book! So much to do yet!

Anyway, this is a short update. Hopefully there is more to come soon.

Surgery and the Recovery

Hi all!

I’ve been asked repeatedly how I’m doing, so the really simple answer is: Recovering faster than expected, really!

OK, here’s the more complicated answer. On Wednesday evening I woke up out of anesthesia with no less than 5 tubes coming out of various parts of my body and a full on heart monitor strapped to my chest. I was remarkably not feeling much in the way of pain… well, from the surgery area. The tube going down my throat through my vocal chords did cause a sore throat, and the bruising from the constant poking of needles…. those caused some pain. The sore throat was the major pain though. Ugh.

Because of the sore throat pain and the fact that I have a pretty massive phobia of certain medical things that was being massively triggered, I spent most of my time at the hospital asleep. Well, as much as I could, because I was being woken up every hour for various tests (vitals, blood draws, “you need to get up and walk around”, needles into the stomach, etc etc.) even all through the night. Many friends wondered why they didn’t hear from me those three days in the hospital, and well, that’s why. Also, typing on a phone with an IV in is impractical.

Anyway, Friday morning they did a “swallow test” to verify that I could swallow liquids without leaking, and subsequently took out some of the tubing, including the one down my throat (yay!!) Saturday morning saw the rest of everything removed and I was discharged home. Really, by Friday night the nurses had started ignoring me (except for those hourly pokings and proddings) because my recovery was clearly going so well they should put their attentions on the more serious cases in the ward. My mom got me Saturday afternoon, and I got home around 4pm, exhausted so I pretty much just went back to sleep.

I think I did the most of my recovery on Sunday in terms of recuperating my energy and getting back to feeling human again. I didn’t do much that day except rest, but being able to walk around the house and sit on my couch was lovely. Monday morning I finally got a shower and really felt human again.

So, at this point I’m just slowly returning to being human. I do have some stamina issues, and the fact that my diaphragm was stitched up means that it’s super tight and hard to breathe — I actually cannot breathe in a deep breath at all, all of my breathing is very shallow. This means exertion is hard on me, and I need time to slowly breathe in my shallow breaths for a period to be able to recover the oxygen I need. But that’s the primary recovery point I’m having now. Otherwise I feel pretty good.

Other little bits of trivia from this surgery… so, what was being fixed was a long tendril of stomach that had poked its way through the diaphragm into the esophagus, a very serious hiatal hernia. When the surgeon went in to get it, he found that it was in the process of strangulating. So how’s that for Just In Time surgery? I’ve also been on surgery related diets for almost 3 weeks now, 2 weeks of a “Liver Reduction” diet pre-surgery (plus two days of full liquid diet right before). Before the swallow test I was on an IV only diet, and since that swallow test I’ve been back on a liquid diet. I’ll move to a “soft diet” on Thursday, which will remain in effect for 6-8 weeks. So, no beer (or any alcohol), soda, broccoli, berries, er… actually there’s a huge list of what I can’t eat for that time period. Very sad I’ll be on these restrictions through Origins.

One of the questions I get though, “Have you lost weight?” Well, yes, I’ve been basically starving myself for 3 weeks, I’ve lost about 20 lbs so far. Well, that’s just from the hospital scales from pre-op testing a month ago until day of the surgery. I suspect I’ve lost a bit more. But I don’t like this weight loss because I know I’m losing muscle because I can’t exercise. And this is likely to be weight that comes back later. This is incredibly unhealthy weight loss. :(

And one thing I have learned through this surgery… because I’m actually in pretty good muscle shape underneath all of my fat is why I’m recovering so quickly. I do not want to lose this muscle! But I will work on getting it back after I’ve recovered enough to work out again. :)