Thu 31 Mar 2011
The debacles began on Feb. 22 when I bought $3.67 worth of Asian chicken wings from the deli counter of the San Anselmo Safeway store. I thought the spicy wings would make a good snack on my way back over the hill to West Marin.
The fried wings seemed tender enough, but when I bit into one, I felt a sharp pain in my lower jaw. I checked and discovered the wing had been sitting in the warming tray so long that the bottom side had become rock hard. Biting into it was like biting into a pebble.
When the pain stayed with me, I went to my dentist, who took an x-ray and confirmed the tooth had fractured at the gum line. He removed the top half of the tooth and referred me to an oral surgeon to remove the root and start me on the way to getting a new tooth implanted. That will take about seven months and cost about $4,500, I was told.
On March 16, the oral surgeon removed the root and sent me home with a mouth full of gauze. The surgeon’s office is in Novato, and I decided to drive home by way of San Rafael. As I was passing the sound barrier just north of downtown, however, the engine on my Acura suddenly died. I managed to coast into the slow lane and turned on my blinkers.
My car had just enough momentum to reach the Heatherton Avenue offramp but not enough to make it around the corner at the bottom. Fortunately, a San Rafael policeman came along and used his patrolcar to push my Acura around the corner to a safe spot.
Unable to reach my girlfriend Lynn Axelrod by phone, I rented a car and drove home.
The next day Easy Auto called to say rainwater had gotten into the computer that controls the engine, and that, in turn, had also ruined the fuel pump.
Heavy storms are annual events in West Marin. Flooding from a storm three years ago blocked my drive down Mesa Road in Point Reyes Station.
Replacing the fuel pump was not a problem, but my 1992 Acura is so old replacement computers are not available from the dealership, and it took a week of calling around to find a wrecking yard that had one. For awhile I feared I might have to replace the entire car.
The repairs cost $1,600, and when they were done, I was still stuck with the problem of water getting to my engine. To solve that, I called Teeters & Schacht in Novato, a shop that specializes in such work, and the owner told me to bring in the car.
On Wednesday, I headed off to Novato but didn’t get beyond the bottom of my driveway. Something felt wrong, and when I stopped to check, a brand-new tire was flat. Fortunately, Greenbridge Auto in Point Reyes Station was able to fix it relatively quickly, and I resumed my trip.
After I left my car in Novato (with a $500 estimate for repairs), Lynn drove me home where I discovered that my computer was in its death throws. Steve Bowers, a computer techie from Inverness, made repeated attempts to revive it, and finally we agreed I needed a new computer.
Computer technician Steve Bowers installing my new iMac.
That required another trip over the hill, where I spent $1,600 at Best Buy for a new iMac. Yesterday evening, Steve began installing its software and transferring backup files from an external hard drive. He came back today to install more and is scheduled to return yet again to finish the job.
Meanwhile, my car is still in the shop. Including the cost of a computer technician, I’m spending more than $8,500 to get things back to normal. And — worst of all — my posting is late this week. My only hope is that Safeway will reimburse me for my dental work. The store manager said I will be “made whole” but was startled when I told him that will take more than $4,000. I’ll keep you posted on the outcome.
While all this has been going on, we residents of Campolindo Drive have gotten into a scrap with our garbage company, Redwood Empire Disposal. The garbage trucks have been doing so much damage to the turnaround at the end of our private road it looks like Libyan tanks have been maneuvering on the pavement.
Each week one or two large garbage trucks lays waste to the asphalt while turning around at the end of Campolindo Drive. In what seems like extortion to me, Redwood Empire Disposal is threatening to cut off garbage pickups along the road unless residents agree to let the damage continue while promising not to sue.
When one neighbor complained, Redwood wrote all of us, “Our trucks are quite heavy, and the maneuvering of the tires does sometimes cause damage to the roads.”
The company acknowledged, “Redwood Empire Disposal does have small garbage trucks. However, these trucks are reserved for use on county-maintained roads that are too small to handle our regular trucks…
“If possible, we will offer private roads the service of the smaller truck for a special service fee. Unfortunately, at this time we do not have a small truck available to service your private road.” Assuming Redwood someday gets around to buying another garbage truck, doesn’t this sound like protection money? Pay a special fee or we’ll damage your road!
Redwood concludes by saying that unless all eight homeowners along Campolindo Drive sign letters saying they won’t sue the company for the damage it has caused and is causing, it won’t pick up our garbage — unless we haul it to Highway 1.
Not only would that be a long haul for most of us, it could result in a line of 24 garbage bins along a section of highway that has no shoulder. In West Marin, it’s common to see recently emptied garbage bins that have blown over. In this case, they could easily be blown into a traffic lane of Highway 1. The situation would be neither safe nor sightly, and Redwood Empire’s financial liability for any traffic accidents its row of bins causes could be hundreds of times greater than the cost of fixing its damage to our road.
Since the Marin County Board of Supervisors franchises Redwood Empire to pick up garbage around here, we’re waiting to see if our supervisor, Steve Kinsey, will help us out. I doubt residents along Campolindo Drive are alone in having this problem with Redwood Empire Disposal. I’ll keep you posted about this too.
All this could get a person down, so the trick is to appreciate its absurdity. Write a wry posting or entertain the crowd at the Old Western Saloon.