“Problems always appear big when incompetent people are working on them”
State 26: New Mexico - January 10 & 11, 2018
We woke up at a Walmart in Roswell, NM well rested and ready for a brand new day. The first task of the day was to drive across the parking lot to the Walmart Auto Care Center to get Rosie an oil change. We were surprised to discover not only did they have a bay capable of accommodating Rosie’s height, but in addition there was no wait! Usually, we have to search high and low to find a garage which can fit Rosie. Today, it appeared as if all the planets had aligned in Roswell for the Cross Country Couple! What great fortune, or so we thought!
The Oil Change from Hell: Day 1
The following is a true story of a timeline of the events which occurred on January 10th &11th, 2018. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. DUN DUN DUN DUN!!!
January 10, 2018: 11:00 am
The Cross Country Couple are two vagabonds in the midst of a year-long cross country journey to discover America, and find a new state to call home. They pull up to a Walmart Auto Care Center for a $29.99 oil change for their 2014 Dodge Ram Promaster High Top Converted Cargo Van, which they have lovingly named Rosie.
January 10, 2018: 11:40 am
The mechanic greets the vagabonds in the waiting room to notify them the oil change was complete, and Rosie was parked outside ready for pick up! The Cross Country Couple was so excited to get back on the road!
January 10, 2018: 11:55 am
The Cross Country Couple exits Walmart, and finds Rosie parked along the side of the building. They insert the key, turn Rosie on, and instantly made a very disturbing discovery! Rosie's check engine light was on!!! DUN DUN DUN DUN!!! Since the check engine light was not on prior to the oil change, the vagabonds walk back into the Walmart, to have a few words with Jose, the mechanic. Jose stated he would do his best to get to the bottom of the issue, and the Cross Country Couple retires to a nearby waiting room desperately hoping for a positive outcome!
January 10, 2018: 12:55 pm
As Jose enters the waiting room, the Cross Country Couple rises to their feet locked in a nervous embrace yearning for good news about their beloved Rosie! Unfortunately, there would be none on this day for these two vagabonds! Jose informs the Cross Country Couple he was unable to identify the cause of the check engine light! Since Walmart Auto Care Center's do not have the means to diagnosis check engine lights, Jose suggests the vagabonds drive Rosie across the parking lot to an O’Reilly Auto Parts store to have a check engine scan performed, and to return with a printout of the results. The Cross Country Couple immediately departs for O’Reilly's Auto Parts on the opposite end of the parking lot!
January 10, 2018: 1:00 pm
The vagabonds safely arrive at O’Reilly Auto Parts, walk up to the service desk, and request a check engine scan for Rosie from Tony, the clerk on duty. Tony exits the auto parts store to run diagnostics on Rosie! The Cross Country Couple waits inside of O’Reilly’s hoping for the best, but fearing the very worst!!!
January 10, 2018: 1:45 pm
After Tony returns to the store, he casually strolls over to a computer behind the counter to process the data obtained from Rosie’s assessment. Every moment felt like an eternity as the Cross Country Couple waited with baited breath for the results of Rosie’s diagnostics! Tony glanced up from behind the computer screen looking at the vagabonds square in the eye, and stoically reveals the 3 probable’s causes for the check engine light! The first potential culprit is the wrong oil filter had been installed! The next issue could be a faulty oil pressure sensor, and the final problem could be a broken oil pump.
January 10, 2018: 1:46 pm
The Cross Country Couple takes a few moments to reflect upon the information they have just been provided. The vagabonds recall having Rosie’s oil pressure sensor replaced 3 months prior, so it was most likely not the cause! Repairing the oil pump is an expensive repair requiring a tow, but Rosie has had no issues with her oil pressure prior to the oil change. These vagabonds were hoping the mechanic had mistakenly installed the wrong oil filter, and installing a new one would be the solution to Rosie’s woes. Tony printed out the results of Rosie check engine scan along with the screenshot of the appropriate oil filter, and the Cross Country Couple limped poor Rosie back across the parking lot to the Walmart Auto Care Center.
January 10, 2018: 1:50 pm
While enroute back to Walmart, another symptom of Rosie’s distress appeared. The oil pressure light illuminated on Rosie’s dashboard, and her console repeatedly displayed the ominous message no vehicle owner ever wants to witness; “Warning, Low Oil Pressure!”. The Cross Country Couple was beginning to get very worried for their beloved Rosie!
January 10, 2018: 1:55 pm
The Cross Country Couple arrives back at the Walmart Auto Care Center, presents Jose, the mechanic the printout of the check engine diagnostic, and informs him of the low oil pressure light which had just appeared on Rosie’s console. Jose decides to replace the oil filter with the one O'Reilly's recommended hoping this will rectify the check engine light and low oil pressure alerts. Satisfied with Tony’s course of action, the Cross Country Couple retires to a nearby waiting room for the duration of the 2nd oil filter change.
January 10, 2018: 2:45 pm
After installing the 2nd oil filter, Jose emerges from the greasy garage, and enters the waiting area to inform the Cross Country Couple the check engine light remains lit! The vagabonds then requested to speak to the store manager!
January 10, 2018: 3:25 pm
The manager on duty named Andrew arrived and greeted the Cross Country Couple in the waiting room of the Walmart Auto Care Center. Andrew apologized for keeping the vagabonds waiting as he was in the middle of an important meeting. The Cross Country Couple informed Andrew they did not feel comfortable driving Rosie with a check engine and a low oil pressure light on, and discussed options for having Rosie towed to a repair shop to be looked at by a certified mechanic. Jose then called auto repair shops, and towing companies in Roswell to check on availability. Andrew remained with the Cross Country Couple in the waiting room, and discussed the process of filing an insurance claim. The vagabonds had a pleasant conversation with Andrew, and shared with him their cross country journey. Andrew appeared to be genuinely sincere and receptive. While chit-chat and social pleasantries served as an effective distraction, it failed to change the reality of the situation that faced the Cross Country Couple. Rosie is both the home and transportation for these vagabonds on their year-long cross country journey to discover America and find a new place to call home! With Rosie’s undiagnosed engine issue, the Cross Country Couple was not going anywhere! At least for the time being, the Walmart parking lot in Roswell, New Mexico was now these vagabonds new home! DUN! DUN! DUN! DUN!
January 10, 2018: 4:25 pm
Jose, the mechanic, entered the waiting room and revealed the results of his efforts to arrange a tow and mechanic for Rosie. Andrew and the Cross Country Couple all rose to their feet in anticipation of the news. Jose looked down at the floor revealing his role as the bearer of bad news, and stated, there weren’t any garages in town with mechanics certified to work on Dodge Ram Promasters including the Roswell Dodge Dealership! The closest mechanic certified to work on Rosie was the Dodge Dealership in Hobbs, NM 121 miles away, and the lowest quote for the tow was $529.00! Andrew stated he was going to call his supervisors for approval to submit an insurance claim. The Cross Country Couple collapsed back into their chairs overwhelmed by what they have just heard! Did this news just end the vagabond’s year-long cross country journey? By default, would New Mexico now become the new home for the Cross Country Couple? DUN! DUN! DUN! DUN!
January 10, 2018: 6:05 pm
After Andrew returned to the Walmart Auto Care Center waiting room, He told the Cross Country Couple his boss approved the submission of an insurance claim, and provided the vagabonds with a case number and a phone number to the insurance agent. Lori called the agent right away to begin the process, but was stuck in a endless loop of automated responses all leading to a voicemail. Lori redialed again, and again, and again, but kept getting funneled to the same automated voicemail! Deciding to try a different approach, the Cross Country Couple googled the insurance company revealing they were based in Kentucky, and closed at 4:00pm Eastern time. It was now 4:05 pm Eastern time! Andrew stated only the insurance agent could approve the tow and repairs now that a claim has been submitted. The Cross Country Couple had no choice but to accept the reality of their current situation; They would have to spend another night in parking lot of the Walmart in Roswell New Mexico! DUN! DUN! DUN! DUN!
As gestures of goodwill, Andrew graciously offered water and electrical hook ups for Rosie, provided the Cross Country Couple a Walmart gift card to pick up a few essentials, and even gave us his personal phone number if the need arose to contact him. Despite being extremely inconvenienced by Walmart, Andrew did an excellent job trying to make good out of a very bad situation! The Cross Country Couple retired to Rosie for the night!
The Oil Change From Hell: Day 2
January 11, 2018: 9:05 am
The Cross County Couple was jolted awake to a sound they came to know all too well, the dreaded “BANG! BANG! BANG!” on the side of Rosie. After getting themselves situated, the Cross Country Couple exited Rosie to see a waiting tow truck, and a large puddle of oil on the ground surrounding Rosie! The tow truck operator introduced himself as Nick, and invited the vagabonds to sit in the cab of the truck, while he hooked Rosie up. While awaiting to depart, The Cross County Couple's phone rang, and on the other end of the line was an insurance agent named Ann. Ann apologized profusely for missing the vagabonds call the day prior, and committed to being on the case! Ann had already arranged for the tow truck, and said the Hobbs Dodge Dealership was expecting Rosie’s arrival. By the time the Cross Country Couple had finished their phone call with Ann, Nick hopped into the cab of the truck, and they all immediately departed for a 2 hour and 5-minute drive to the Hobbs Dodge Dealership with Rosie in tow.
January 11, 2018: 11:10 am
After the tow truck finally arrived at the Hobbs Dodge Dealership, the Cross Country Couple entered the service department, while Nick disconnected Rosie from the truck. The vagabonds are greeted by a service manager who introduced herself as Angie, who promises to take good care of our Rosie. After filling out some paperwork, the vagabonds turn over the keys to their home and transportation to a total stranger, and retired to a nearby waiting area.
January 11, 2018: 3:30 pm
It was a long and restless wait in the waiting room of the Dodge Dealership for the Cross Country Couple. On one hand, the vagabonds could not wait to finally discover what ailed Rosie, but on the other hand, they wondered how they would afford a new engine? Where would they sleep while the repairs on Rosie were being performed? What if parts needed to be ordered? What if parts were on back order? What if this trip has to go longer than a year? What if little green men abduct them, and take them away to the planet Zultor? Clearly, after 3 ½ hours in a waiting room, The Cross Country Couple's minds were running rampid! Just then, Angie emerged from behind the service door, and sat down on a chair adjacent to the vagabonds. She explained there was nothing wrong with Rosie’s engine, and the check engine light, and low oil pressure lights were the result of the wrong oil filter being installed at Walmart! The Cross Country Couple jumped out of their seats and erupted in cheer, and then cried tears of joy! Rosie was ok!!! Our girl was going to be just fine, they said! After Angie returned Rosie’s keys back to the Cross Country Couple, they drove off into the sunset, and lived happily ever after! THE END.
For a wide variety of very valid reasons too lengthy to discuss in this post, I absolutely despise big box stores, insurance companies and car dealerships, but each went above and beyond to rectify their error and/or help us to our complete satisfaction. In business and in cross country travel alike, inevitably things will go wrong! Although we have little control over other people’s actions, we are all 100% in control of our reactions. Here we found ourselves stranded in the parking lot of a Roswell Walmart facing a premature end to our cross country trip due unknown engine issues from a botched oil change. All things considered, I feel we handled the situation quite well! The fact that we were able to write this blog post making light of what was at the time a very stressful situation serves as proof. Hopefully you found my Dramatic Narrator captivating and amusing, I must stay it was quite hard to write in 3rd person, when you’re not used to doing so! After being forced off the road for 2 days, Lori and I are proud say we survived the oil change from hell! DUN! DUN! DUN! DUN!
Best of all, now that Rosie has been given a clean bill of health, we can continue on our cross country journey to discover America and find a new state to call home!!! After departing the Hobbs Dodge Dealership, we drove across town to a Walmart where we spent our last night in New Mexico! Tomorrow we travel deep into the heart of Texas, and we can’t wait!!!