Friday the 13th: Nightmare on Dry Creek

Friday, January 13, 2017, was a very stressful day for me. That morning, I had a dermatology appointment. The doctor was performing a mole check before I embarked on my solo trip. I’ve had suspicious moles removed before and we thought it would be a good idea to do a final check before spending three weeks in the Galapagos. There was a mole on my thigh that had suddenly appeared and had been changing rapidly. The doctor decided to remove it and performed a biopsy. Awaiting the results is always a nerve-racking ordeal but she said I would have an answer the following week.

After the procedure, I went home to pack as I had planned to move my belongings out of my apartment and into storage at my mother’s house. Moving is always a stressful situation. Moving your things into to storage because you are leaving your life behind to go off on your first solo trip that would last for several months is even more daunting. A million things were going through my mind that day. All of my doubts and fears had finally surfaced as the reality of what I was doing started to hit me. I had a reservation to pickup a U-Haul truck on Dry Creek Drive and my friend was leaving work early to take me to pick it up. I called to confirm the reservation and let them know I would be running a bit late to pick up the truck. No one answered and my call was not returned. I called the corporate office number to confirm that the truck would be ready when I got there and to ensure that the late pick up would not be an issue. They explained that the location where the truck was waiting was new and they too were having issues getting ahold of the employees. However, they assured me that the truck was there and the later pick up would not be an issue.

After a few hours of packing, my friend came to pick me up. We pulled up to the address and it was a gas station with a few U-Haul trucks sitting in the parking lot. I went inside and told the clerk that I was there to pick up my U-Haul. There were two employees working that day. Neither seemed to know that I had a reservation. Now, I have rented several U-Hauls in the past and the pick up process has always taken about five minutes. You show them your online reservation, they pull up your reservation, they go with you to inspect the truck, and they give you your receipt and send you on your way. This was not at all my experience at Dry Creek!

Apparently, I was the first U-Haul renter from this location. I asked if they had received the voicemail I had left several hours before. They had not. I asked if they had spoken to the corporate office. They had not. They didn’t know how to work their computer system. They kept asking me for the same information over and over again. And I don’t just mean three or four times. I mean at least ten to fifteen times. I watched in disbelief as they kept starting over because they continued to get the same error message. I tried so hard to keep my composure but the rage was welled up inside me. They kept telling me, “it’s ok” and other condescending remarks, which just further infuriated me because no, it most certainly was not ok.

At one point they asked to see my credit card and I refused. I had entered my payment information when I made the reservation online and they didn’t need it to pull up the reservation. They called their boss and he tried to walk them through the system to no avail. I was beyond angry now. I had already been there for over thirty minutes. My friend was sitting in her car in the parking lot laughing because she said she could tell I was making a scene by the looks on the faces of the shoppers leaving the store. I called the corporate office again and explained the situation. They apologized and said they would find me another truck at a different location but it would take some time. I told them I had already been there for almost an hour. I wanted them to sort out the paperwork now so I could get the truck and leave. The corporate office said there was nothing they could do on their end unless I wanted to cancel my reservation and make a new one for a different location. I was livid. Finally, the morons got something to print out.

One of the employees went with me to inspect the truck. Once again he told me, “it’s ok, it’s not a big deal,” and I fucking lost it. I went off on him, telling him that this should have been a quick process and instead, due to their incompetence, I had wasted an hour of a busy stressful moving day waiting for them to get their shit together. He replied that it was my fault for being two hours late to pick up the U-Haul. I could have stabbed that stupid fuck to death right then and there. I told him that I wasn’t late because I called to tell them what time I would be arriving and it’s their fault for not answering their phones, for not checking their messages and not knowing how to run their business. They gave me what looked like a receipt and I stormed out. I got in the U-Haul and it hardly had any gas which was just ridiculous considering it had been parked about two yards from a gas pump. I told my friend I would get gas somewhere else because I would be damned if I was going to give these idiots any more business.

We started driving back towards my apartment. My friend was ahead of me in the left turn lane. The light was red. I was trying to calm down when I felt a bump from the rear driver’s side of the truck. I looked out to see that some stupid bitch had tried to cut through traffic and clipped the bumper of the U-Haul. Once again, rage. I got out and told her to hurry up and give me her insurance information because I didn’t have the time or the patience for this shit. She said, “I don’t know why you’re so upset. It didn’t do anything to either of the vehicles”. Had her stupid ass gotten out of her truck to see the gaping hole she made she wouldn’t have thought that but the U-Haul was fine so I said ok and let her drive off. I got back in the U-Haul and went home. When we got there, my friend asked me what happened because she had looked back in her rear view mirror to see my little legs jump down out of the U-Haul and run around the back of the truck. I told her what happened and we laughed about the surprise that girl was going to get when she realized the damage she did to her own truck.

I was exhausted and frustrated but it was time to load up the U-Haul. A couple of friends from my hometown were going to drive the U-Haul for me and I was going to follow in my own car to bring us home. After getting everything loaded up they said they would drive it and I could go in the morning since I obviously needed to get some rest. So, they set off on the four-hour drive to Abilene in the U-Haul truck. The next morning I woke up to hear a voicemail the manager had left around midnight demanding I call him and give him my credit card information or he was going to charge me more. Uh, no! I called my mom to tell her there had been issues with renting the U-Haul and to wait to return it so I could be there to talk to the staff at the Abilene location. She didn’t listen of course. So while I’m driving, she called to tell me that the Abilene staff said that the U-Haul rental hadn’t been processed correctly and that my friends had technically been driving a “stolen” U-Haul truck during the night.

When I got there, the Abilene staff was amazing and said that after such an ordeal, I shouldn’t be charged for the rental. Unfortunately, that was not up to them and the Austin manager disagreed. He said he would only refund 15% of my fee and then when the refund was processed, it was only a 10% refund. I wasn’t surprised; incompetence seems to be the norm in that branch, why would I think they could do basic math. I called the corporate office and complained. Once again they told me there was nothing they could do except to ask the Austin manager to issue the full 15% refund. The remaining 5% was refunded and I tried to forget about the whole ordeal. A few days later, my dermatologist called to tell me that the results of the biopsy were worrisome and she wanted me to come back in to have a more aggressive removal. So, on my birthday, I had the fun experience of another biopsy and several stitches. Friday the 13th will always be an ominous day for me and if you are ever in need of a U-Haul rental in Austin, Texas…beware of Dry Creek Drive! Haha

Note: Based on a quick Google search, it seems this U-Haul dealer is no longer in business. Good riddance!

Post Trip Blues

2017 has come to an end. It was an amazing year for me. A year of full of big changes in my life. It will probably be the most transitional period I’ll ever experience. I quit a job I loathed. I packed up my apartment and put all of my belongings in storage at my mom’s house. I said goodbye to my friends and family and embarked on a three-month solo trip that somehow turned into an eight-month trip. I tried things I thought I would never try. I did things I thought I would never have the balls to do. As scary as some of it was, I loved every second of it! Sure, there were experiences that were not ideal and times that I wasn’t happy but that’s life. Sometimes you have to experience the bad to really appreciate the things that are truly amazing.

Before I left for my trip, I thought that I would write weekly blog posts about the things that I was doing and seeing but for some reason, I didn’t want to do that. I’m still struggling to do that. I journaled a lot but didn’t feel like I wanted to share my experiences with the world. I haven’t even talked about many of my experiences with those closest to me. Maybe it was all so personal for me that I want to keep much of it for myself. They were my experiences, mine and mine alone. I feel almost protective of them. It was a sacred time for me. Maybe I’m still processing how many of those experiences made me feel. How they changed me deep down. How they are still changing me today.

Now that I’m back in Texas, I’m struggling to find balance in my life. I feel almost lost in a place that is very familiar. I feel like I have reverted back to many of the tendencies I thought I had rid myself of while taking this journey. Maybe those tendencies were always there and it was just harder to recognize because I was often very far out of my comfort zone and exposed to different ways of life. Maybe I’ll never really be rid of them and the only thing that changes are my circumstances.

I feel more confused now than I ever have before. Many people who have traveled for long periods of time told me that it would be difficult once I came back. That I would struggle to adjust back to a “normal” life. Well, the struggle is real and far worse than I anticipated.

I want many conflicting things. I miss having my own place. A place that is only mine where I’m surrounded by the material things I love. A place that is my personal sanctuary. But I also want to live out of a backpack with only the necessities and sleep in a different place each night. I want stability and routine but I also want a life where every day is different and unpredictable. I want a companion but also don’t want to be tied down to one person. I want responsibilities but I also want absolute freedom. I guess the bottom-line is that I have no idea what I really want.

The one thing I know for certain is that I miss traveling. I miss waking up in the morning and just wandering around some unknown place. Not having any idea what I will see, who I will meet and what I will do. Most days, I would just walk for miles and miles and it brought me a sense of peace. Calm tranquility. I keep telling myself that I can have the same experience here, at home in Austin but it just doesn’t feel the same.

So, I’m sitting here at the library, looking out the window, wondering what will come next. I thought this trip would help me decide what I wanted in life and who I really wanted to be. Or maybe it has and I’m just too much in my head to realize it. For now, each day will continue to present the same question. Now what?

I would love to hear from my fellow wanderers out there. How do you deal with these conflicting feelings? How did you decide if the nomadic lifestyle was for you? Please comment below!