Sunday, October 25, 2009
How to Pull the Front Panel off Your Car- a Practical Guide
So as a follow-up to my traffic accidents post, I thought it appropriate to blog about my own little car disaster. Rewind to last Thursday. Now, Thursdays in Kuwait are fabulous because Thursday is our Friday (the start to the weekend!). So I was in a great mood...counting down the hours til freedom. As the clock struck 4 (quitting time!), I strolled out of the university with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step. I went out to my car, which was parked close to campus due to my clever use of what is really a non-spot. Basically, parking around my campus is horrible, so people find all kinds of creative ways to stash their car before heading into work. Over the past few weeks, my favorite spot has been an area that was previously a parking spot, but now has a human-sized pile of dirt/sand over it. However, there's a nice little indentation and just enough room to squeeze my car up against the pile of dirt without hitting the other car to my side. Most other people are too scared to try this spot (or rather, most other people aren't stupid or desperate enough to use this space), so I consider it my private reserved spot. In any case, when I approached my car on this particular Thursday, I noticed with dismay that the surrounding cars had almost boxed me in; however, confident in my driving skills, I figured that with a little maneuvering, I would be able to edge out without any problems. Thus started the parking-exit-dance...you know the one...reverse, angle, forward, turn, reverse, angle, forward, turn, etc etc. When I was finally almost out of the spot, I gunned the engine to back out the rest of the way. Throughout this process, I had sort of lost track of the human-sized pile of dirt...so in backing out, I accidentally edged my car over the corner of the pile. It made a scraping noise but I didn't think anything of it. In Kuwait, we are always taking our cars over curbs, huge potholes, piles of trash, broken glass, etc. So what's a little sand? Well, I finally got my car out and proceeded to head home. I cranked up my music, ready to celebrate the advent of the weekend. As the music lulled me into my happy place, I started to notice that every time I took a left, there was a strange scraping noise. Dismayed, I turned down the radio and realized that the scraping noise was getting worse and worse. I had planned on stopping to get some groceries on the way home, but decided to just get my car back to my house so I could see what was wrong. I made it (with much staring from the surrounding motorists), parked, and got out. I walked around the car and gasped in shock. The entire front panel was torn off and hanging by a couple screws. The engine was exposed, the panel was scratched up and dragging on the ground...basically, it was not a pretty picture. My first thought was to just "pop" it back into place. So I started pushing and shoving...but no popping occurred (I think I actually bent it more). Dismayed, I scanned through my list of phone contacts to see if I had a number for the service center. Overjoyed, I realized that I had the cell number for the English-speaking manager of the car service office! (courtesy of all my car problems this summer...I guess God saw this one coming...what a blessing to already have a contact who knows me!). I called him and he picked up right away with "Hello Ms Amy, how can I help you?" For Kuwait, that's like hitting the jackpot!! Turns out the service center was closed until Saturday (surprise surprise). But everything worked out fine. One of my neighbors was able to help me re-attach the panel so that I could drive it to the service location, which I promptly did at 8am on Saturday. When I got there, the fabulous Mr. Nidal (the manager) was there to look at my car. He told me that I would have to file an accident report. I told him no accident had occurred...it was just me and a poorly designed pile of dirt. He told me that he believed me, but they would still say I had been in an accident and want a report (note: if it's an accident and the other person drives off, I have to pay a percentage of the repairs...which is why they always want it to be an "accident"). I told him again that there was no accident...no paint from another car...nothing that could possibly look like a traffic accident! I gave him my best "poor me whatever shall I do" look, and he sighed and asked me to take a seat while he worked on it. I had brought a book expecting to sit there for a few hours. I saw him pull my car into the regular parking lot (not the mechanics area) and call over a couple of the guys. Then I returned to my book. Lo and behold, 20 minutes later he walked in and gave me the keys and said everything was fine! I went out to find the panel re-attached, all new screws, a new plastic piece to replace the one that was crushed, and except for a few remaining scratches...everything back to normal! NO paperwork. NO charges. The man is my hero. Although all of this caused some anxiety and stress over the weekend, it could have been so much worse. Praise God that my first real car disaster was a simple matter of tearing off the panel to my car, nothing involving injury (see previous post about traffic accidents). Everything is now back to normal, and I chose a new parking spot today. No more piles of dirt, although the spot did involve a curb, piles of trash, and some broken pottery. Crossing my fingers that today's surprise isn't a flat tire. I'm not sure if Mr. Nidal could handle seeing any more of me. I'm pretty sure that they refer to me there as the crazy american gal.