“Arcade away from home” Part 4 – Smoke and Rain

In part 1, part 2, and part 3 of my story about picking up a couple of games in Chicago, everything had generally went well. I had some problems getting into town, some more expenses than expected and a hiccup on the way home from St. Louis but it seemed as though things were going fine. It didn’t end up that way…

It started with a frantic call

This was the deal. Mid day on Monday I was supposed to meet up with my father in law to pickup my wife and my son. On the way home from St. Louis we had talked about where and when. As I said, that night was short, and we went to bed. Little did I know I had little battery left on my phone and I didn’t plug it in.

In the morning, Chris and I got some breakfast and we got to work on replacing the flyback on the G07 chassis. Chris had a flyback that I bought from him, and we started soldering. All the while I was monitoring the weather. My wife had mentioned that it looked like rain all day on Monday in Chicago, and sure enough it was raining cats and dogs while was upsetting to say the least. The storm was passing through, but might not before I left. Whatever, I’ll worry about that when it’s time and I hear from her with final plans.

And I wait. I wait some more. We keep working. We fully replace the flyback and the monitor still didn’t come up. We’re chalking it up to a cracked or cold solder joint. I leave the chassis board with Chris to have Mark H. check it out. So close, but I don’t care that the Pengo won’t be fully working when I get back, I have a Happ Vision Pro to put in it for the time being. Eventually the rain lets up in Chicago so we start to do the final shrink wrapping of the games.

I decided to come inside and check my phone and Oh crap, the battery is dead. So I plug it in and proceed to check my messages. I have five. I figured I knew what they were about, so I just called the last number, which was my sister in law’s cell. She picks up and says they’re at the vet with the family dog and that my wife is still at home. Thinking nothing of it, I call the home line.

When I get a hold of her, she can barely talk. The dog has not been doing well all night and they all took turns staying up with him. If you don’t own a dog, this will be lost on you, but I know for us our two dogs are like a family member. And her family is no different. At 13 years old, he was getting up there, but everything happened so suddenly and no one knew what was going on. But they were fearing the worst, that they’d have to put him down.

Chris and I went outside and finished the major packing, figuring out how to get two games in the back of the cab. Loading each one up in the truck, I wrapped down past the bottom of the cabinets. Man I am glad I did that.

Mad Planets Laying Down

The bed was 1/2 inch too small due to the wheel wells to lay them side by side. So, we used some 2×4’s and piled some panels up to make an angled sled to raise the Mad Planets above the left wheel well. They barely fit and they weren’t going anywhere.

Wood Ramp for the Mad Planets
The worst possible news

Two hours later I found out the news. X-rays came back, and where the lungs should have been black, they were completely white. The vet said it was aggressive cancer, and his heart was enlarged to 2x it’s normal size. There was no choice, he was suffering. I did some growing up with this dog, and he meant the world to the family.

What do you do? There was talk that I might travel all the way home to Grand Haven and pick them up myself. But in the end, Dad agreed to still meet us. I finally got a hold of her later and she said they had already left! Oh crap. Dad had to be back to work for second shift, so I had to get on it. I rushed around like a crazy person packing all of the little items, said a quick goodbye and I was out. Weather looked like it should be passing through South Bend now, so it should be smooth sailing.

Slight meetup mixup

In all of the craziness, I thought we talked about meeting just north of the 80/90 interchange, at the first exit. It was just short of two hours for me and it looked as though I’d have enough gas to make it. But as I drove along, it was apparent I was running low, but this was after I got on the toll road. Well, there aren’t any gas stations on the road. I take that back, there was one, but it wasn’t well marked that it was a combo with a McDonald’s.

So when I went north on 31 I had about no gas left and couldn’t be wandering around before filling up. Well, turns out that they were all the way down at the interchange of 20 and 31. I hit construction, so I couldn’t turn around, I was going the wrong direction (north) and needed gas. They agreed to meet me and I pulled off to fill up. I found gas at exit three, filled up and pulled off to the side of the drive and waited.

When they arrived, my wife was still a mess from the day. We packed her up, said a couple of tearful goodbyes and he turned around to head out. We got buckled in and I put the key in the ignition. The truck wouldn’t turn over!

Crap. So, we flagged down her dad to wait, it appeared as if we needed a jump. I don’t know how, the battery should have been fine, charging over from Chicago. We tried for a half hour to jump the truck from the van, but it just wasn’t turning over. It was starting to look like the starter was out. A trucker walked over to offer his help and suggestions, and we decided we’d try to push start it and pop the clutch. Simple enough.

All the while, the weather progressively worsened. By the time we were pushing it started to rain. Not a downpour, but not a sprinkle. The push start didn’t work, not at all. We pushed the truck over to the other side of the lot, a long ways from the awning by the fuel pumps. We tried to jump the truck from a semi. Nothing. So there is the truck, sitting there, dead and it’s raining.

Did I mention the truck was borrowed?

We threw in the towel. It was time to call the owner and see what he wanted us to do. The truck is a 2007 F150 with 4,000 miles on it. Nothing should be wrong with it.

I called the owner and yet another part of the ‘perfect’ storm of the weekend. His car got hit by a deer and was out of commission until Wednesday. He had no transportation and needed the truck. I also thought I had called him on my new cell number, but I hadn’t, so he had no way to get a hold of me. Here I am calling him to tell him that his truck isn’t working either. My cell phone is about out of battery again, because I didn’t have time to fully charge it before I had to quickly leave this morning and I don’t yet have a new car adaptor for it. Dad leaves me his cell.

The truck should be under warranty, so I end up getting a hold of Ford’s roadside assistance. They will dispatch a tow truck to our area. We find the nearest Ford dealership, it is now after 6 pm. My father in law has to call in to work to see if he can come late, as he should have been back at 3 pm. The Ford dealership is on the east side of South Bend in Mishawaka, about a half hour away. Fortunately they are open until 8pm. But after researching the starter, if that is the problem, they don’t have it in stock and can’t get for two more days! What the heck?

How many times can I say, perfect storm. It’s like dominos.

If it’s not one thing, it’s the next. My wife then tells me, my explosive son is running out of diapers. They need to head out and try to find a grocery store. While I wait, the rain stops enough that I get out some rags I have packed and start wiping down the shrink wrap and inspecting the damage on the games. The Pengo doesn’t appear to have any water on it, phew. The Mad Planets, although angled, did manage to get some drips on a four inch space of the base. That part of the cabinet has swelled, three scratches that hit wood were now mounds. What can I do? I’m upset, but helpless a little bit. They’re in there so tight that if I take everything out, I risk not getting them back in, and we’re in a sopping rock parking lot. Not to mention we have to get to the dealer as soon as possible. If the game wasn’t angled, things might have been worse.

My wife is gone about an hour and soon after they return, the tow truck finally arrives. It has been long enough now that I think, well, maybe something overheated, let’s try starting the truck again. I try it and it starts!!! Yes!! Hope!!

Immediately smoke pours out from behind the right tire. The truck was on for less than 30 seconds before I turned it back off. This is getting worse all the time…

Ford F150 loaded up on the tow truck

I am so thankful that I at least had the shrink wrap. We agree to follow the tow to the dealership. Remember when I said I couldn’t find the adaptor for the GPS? And dad left his at home. Well, my GPS was dead and the tower just takes off down the highway. We’re following him and all of a sudden it appears as though a piece flies off the truck!! We quickly pull over as he continues speeding off into the distance. It appears as though a chunk of plastic chrome comes off the truck. I am pissed. Not my truck, and I didn’t notice anything as I watched them hook it up, but if there is additional damage I’m going to rip a new one.

So, we lost him. He’s no where to be found, and all I have is the main dispatch number to contact the driver. We get dispatch to give us some cryptic directions, but they aren’t really sure about the exits on 20 either. Oy! We were fortunate in that dispatch must have gotten in contact with the driver because he called me from his cell. He had exited three miles down the road, we had gone about 10, so we turned back around and met him at the exit.

The penny tour of South Bend

The driver then proceed to take us the most retarded scenic possible route through downtown South Bend and residential Mishawaka. My dad and I are fuming, because we are quickly approaching 8pm. Mishawaka is easily accessible from 20, we just didn’t know the location of the dealership. When we arrive I immediately run out with the plastic chrome piece in hand, but I couldn’t find where it could possibly go on the truck, it didn’t match at all. So, for all that hassle, he must have just hit a piece on the road and it looked like it came off the truck.

Ford F150 at Jordan Ford Mishawaka

The driver apologizes for the route, his GPS took him that way and admits it was a terrible way to take. It’s 8 pm, the dealership basically takes the truck and tells us they’ll look at it in the morning. So, I am freaking out on all accounts, including the fact that I am now just leaving the two games loaded up in the F150.

We head out and I direct Dad as best as I can directly south to 20 based on a general map. He is running low on gas, so we fuel up and I use the phone book in the gas station to look up Jeff W. in South Bend to try to find a hotel right off the highway. There was no time to go driving around looking for one, Dad was now in a terrible place, he had a 2-2.5 drive and then he had to go into work for as much as 8 more hours and risked his job in the process.

Jeff helps us find a new Comfort Inn and Suites just south off 20 and 31, drops us off and heads out. After we get all the hords of stuff we unloaded from the truck into the room, I realize I haven’t eaten anything but peanut butter toast again all day. She said she spotted an Arby’s across the way, so I was on baby duty. She came back and said that it was an Arby’s at one time, but now a mexican place and they weren’t open. So we had pot pies from the gas station. Mmm, yummy. I probably could have ordered pizza, but whatever, we would have been asleep when it arrived.

There we are, the whole family marooned possibly until Wednesday without knowing anything more of what is going on with the truck. I missed my MBA course and we’re emotionally exhausted and drained with no real answers. I only hope that the worst has passed. I am not going to be able to laugh about the ‘perfect storm’ of events that happened…not yet.

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I finally read this post and all I have to say is “wow”. Did you forget to mention your wife freaking out? Or is she usually a calm person who just goes with the flow. Rain + Gottlieb cabinet is not a good thing!!! I’m sure Pengo doesn’t like the rain either!

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She’s very even keel, more so than me, I think she has more practice on a day in day out basis.

She was only stressed for her father who was unfortunately saddled with us three….

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I’ll tell you what… If a flash flood came your way… You wouldn’t have anything to worry about because Mad Planets would absorb 50 gallons a minute for 2-3 hours!

I’m glad your wife is even keel. I could picture my wife giving me a lot of heat if this happened to us.

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