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This story went out early today, after I spent hours in attempts to import photos and their captions, an effort that involved several phone calls to Wix, which powers my website. Now, I see that the fourth paragraph was deleted, and the story makes little sense at that point. My car stopped on me after I left the Home Depot, and that was the reason for the call to Triple A. Ironically, I could make the same conclusion about the Wix website operation that the story makes about Home Depot and Triple A.

Here's that fourth paragraph, and below that, the entire story is repeated:

Just before the exit from the parking lot, Mr. Mazda quits on me. While I’m driving. The motor just stops. A guy helps me push it into a parking spot, and I walk back to the store to call Triple A, because I forgot my cellphone because I never use the piece of !@%^&*. The employee lets me use the landline at his station in shades and blinds.

My neighbor, aware of my escapades traveling to Costa Rica and Nicaragua for dental work, along with a long stay in Tampa Bay, suggested I write a book about my travels after hearing of my most recent experience.

Actually, this was a non-travel story, a tale of travel truncated. To tell the truth (the spirit brims with TV nostalgia), the only travel was perambulation – by your faithful scribe – under the sun’s torrid rays. Remember Car Talk on public radio? This story would take up four episodes.

It all began innocently enough. I drove my shiny, newly repainted 2010 Mazda 3 to a Home Depot near the city of Lake Worth Beach to have a new bedroom window shade shortened. Alas, the cutting mechanism was in pieces, awaiting repair. I went to this store because the blade for the one in the Boynton Beach store had been inoperable for 10 months. The Lake Worth employee advised me to visit the Home Depot west of nearby Lantana.

Just before the exit from the parking lot, Mr. Mazda quits on me. While I’m driving. The motor just stops. A guy helps me push it into a parking spot, and I walk back to the store to call Triple A, because I forgot my cellphone because I never use the piece of !@%^&*. The employee lets me use the landline at his station in shades and blinds.

2010 Mazda 3

I give the information – a 2010 Mazda 3 -- to the Triple A operator, who promises to call back “in a minute” – which wouldn’t do any good; I’m at a Home Depot. Fifteen minutes later, I call back, and a guy says the driver is having trouble finding the Sam’s Club. Huh? “Home Depot, you … the Home Depot at Lake Worth Road and Military Trail.”

“Oh, that’s the problem. He’ll be right there.” Another 15 minutes of thumb twiddling, and I call again. “It’ll be about 45 minutes,” the lady says. “Oh no, he’s out there now, looking for you.”

I run to my car and, spotting a tow truck in the distance of the vast lot, run toward it, waving frantically. The driver sees me, and pulls up to my car.

“That’s not a Volvo,” he says. “No, it’s a Mazda 3 – as I told Triple A three times.” “Did you own a Volvo before?” “I’ve never been near a Volvo.”

He tells me to sit in the cab of his truck while he waits for something, chatting and laughing on his cellphone, the truck spewing out fumes all the while. A half-hour later, we depart, and he deposits my Volvo – I mean Mazda – in a space at my condo.

It’s Saturday night, and I have to wait till Monday to have the car towed again, this time to the repair shop. I call the shop, and the mechanic tells me to bring it in. I give Triple A my home address, and a tow truck driver calls a half-hour later, saying he can’t find it. I describe exactly where I live, and he says his GPS isn’t working right. Now he’ll have to refuel, so it will be a while. Finally, he arrives, and I ride with him to the shop.

“Why did you come?” the owner brusquely wants to know. “Well, I needed to explain the problem.” “You already told me. I have two or three cars ahead of you.” “It’s okay. I already checked the bus schedule.”

He drives me in his cart to the main street, and a bus arrives soon. It takes me three miles to a stop where I need to transfer to another bus. I begin walking in the blistering heat and cloying humidity. Where is that damned bus? At each bus stop, I turn to see if the green monster with the orange headsign is in the distance. After three miles of trudging, with no bus in sight, I’m home, my knit shirt soaked.

I collapse into my desk chair and check my emails. After 25 minutes, the phone rings.

“Your car is ready.” “What?!” “Yeah, it was just a disconnected wire to the battery.”

The reverse route likewise involves two buses, but they’re timed close together, and I have to walk only about three-quarters of a mile. The shop owner refuses to accept payment. He was similarly generous 15 years ago.

2010 Volvo

Car problem solved, shortening of shade in limbo. Next day, I’m off to the Home Depot west of Lantana.

“The cutter doesn’t work.” I stare at the guy in disbelief. I’m holding the six-foot shade, and visions of my boyhood days wielding a baseball bat flit in my head. I stifle an impulse to swing this baton at everything and everyone in sight.

One Home Depot left – in south Delray Beach. I ask the employee to call the store to make sure the shade cutter works. It does.

Late the next day, I drive the 10 miles in the other direction from my home.

“The guy who does the cutting isn’t here.” “Uh huh. Well, you better find somebody who can operate that thing, ’cause I’m not leaving till this shade is cut.”

The manager is summoned. He’s not sure how to operate the device, but is determined to make it work. He finagles with one end, then the other. Breaking open a box with a new shade, he borrows a pin, which he inserts into one end of the shade to keep it in place on the mechanism. He asks me to hold it firm, and pulls the cutting lever. The result is a little ragged, but will do.

A mechanical neighbor inserts the end piece and affixes the shade. We lower it as I hold my breath. It rolls down, and rolls back up – smoothly. The odyssey is over.

To be fair, the Home Depot stores were flexible in allowing me to replace the shade – the spring had broken – without a receipt several months after I purchased it. But if you’re going to sell window shades that often need custom sizing, shouldn’t your cutting mechanism work? In more than one out of your four stores in a geographical area?

Shouldn’t Triple A have people on call who are sentient early on a Saturday evening?

There is much talk lately that our government is headed in the direction of Third World countries. Our society may already be there.

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