Tag Archives: Austin

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!

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My First St. Paddy’s Day in Austin, Texas

During my first year in Austin, my friend and her new boyfriend came to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on 6th Street. A friend picked me up and we went to another friend’s house downtown. From there, the three of us got on a party bus driven by a guy that was trying to date me. It was too early in the night and not much was going on. The guy was kind of creepy and made us feel awkward so we finished our drinks and headed off on foot.

Several other people joined our group and we went to meet my friend and her boyfriend at a bar. Things started out well. We bar hopped. The drinks were flowing and everyone was having a great time…

The next thing I knew, I woke up to my alarm clock blaring. I felt disoriented. Not hungover, still drunk. I had to get dressed and go to work. I somehow pulled myself out of bed and staggered toward the door. There was a strange aroma in the air. I couldn’t figure out what it was. I went to the bathroom and showered. I still felt horrible. My friend and her boyfriend were asleep in my living room so I crept back to my room to get dressed. Ugh…what is that smell?! I was starting to feel nauseous. I threw on some clothes and started putting on my makeup. When I was done, I went to get the lip gloss I had used the previous night from my purse. When I opened my pink purse, the smell of shitty street food was overwhelming. I looked in and saw a white paper plate with orange grease stains folded up inside. I opened the plate to find a slice of half eaten pepperoni pizza. I was really confused. Why was this in there? Who put it in there?

I finished getting dressed and walked into the living room. By this time, my friend and her boyfriend were awake. They saw the folded paper plate in my hand and started laughing. “What happened last night,” I asked. They were both cracking up and she said, “I told you not to put that in there!” She explained that I got completely trashed (obviously)
and said that I wanted pizza. So they followed my drunk ass around blurdowntown Austin to Roppolo’s Pizza. Once I purchased the pizza, I took two bites and then tried to pawn it off on another friend. They already had their own so I decided it would be a good idea to save it for later, despite my friend’s urging to throw it away and not put that greasy mess in my purse. I’m stubborn, probably even more so when I’m drunk, so into my purse it went.

Now that the mystery was solved, I headed off to work. When I got there, I checked my phone for the first time that morning. Another friend that had been with us the night before had texted to asked if I was ok. Before I responded, I read back through our recent messages. Apparently, she and another girl had gotten separated from our group when we went to find pizza. She texted me to ask where we had gone. My response read, “Pizza!!!” She asked where we were getting pizza. My response was the final text I sent that night. It read, “djghkshgflsdk,” or something to that effect. There were many more texts from her and several missed calls. Poor girl. She probably thought I was dead in a ditch somewhere. I texted her and let her know that I was ok. I told her about the pizza in my purse and she filled me in on other things I didn’t remember, which was pretty much the whole night!

My cherry vodka sours were strong and I’m a lightweight. Luckily, we were responsible and had arranged designated drivers before the night began. Austin, Texas is a great place to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day but prepare yourself for the throngs of drunkards and know your own limits before you become one of them! I sure learned mine that night and I clearly can’t handle my liquor like the Irish!

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Cherry vodka sour!!!

TRAPPED IN THE BATHROOM AT THE TEXAS STATE CAPITOL

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While wrapping up my master’s program, I interned for a State Representative at the Texas State Capitol. For those who have never had the opportunity to wander around, the Capitol building is essentially a maze. I immediately got lost on the way to my interviews, even after the security guard at the metal detector gave me detailed directions. Luckily I ran into a very nice gentleman that walked me to the correct corridor and assured me that everyone gets lost. I had two interviews and was offered one on the spot. The office staff was awesome and laid back so I accepted.

On the first official day, I was so proud of myself for finding the office on my own, after only being lost for like 10 minutes. I was shown some of my duties and spent most of the day doing data entry. I was given a key and left to lock up the office when I was done. After everyone was gone, I needed to use the bathroom. I figured I had better go before I left anyway because Austin traffic can be horrible. I left all of my belongings in the office and ventured out to find the bathroom.

The bathroom was relatively close to the office. There was no one in there. It was late in the day and it was during the interim so there wasn’t much staff around to begin with. When I went to leave the stall, the lock handle turned and turned but the latch never retracted. I tried rattling the door. Nothing. I was trapped in the bathroom stall. I didn’t have anything with me to pry the latch open. I continued to try to get the lock to retract to no avail. After several minutes, I was preparing myself to do the unthinkable… crawl under the door on the nasty bathroom floor. Now, the floors might have been as clean as a bathroom floor can be but I still didn’t want to touch it. Feeling defeated, I tried the lock one more time. It still didn’t open. Ok, time to get out. I’m crouched down, still not touching the floor, when I hear the main bathroom door open.

I shot upright! “Ma’am?! The lock is broken and I’m stuck in here. Can you please help me?” The lady on the other side of the stall door was the sweetest Southern woman on earth. She kept saying, “Bless your little heart!” After a few minutes of struggling from her side, she managed to pry the lock open. The stall door opened and I emerged, relieved and grateful. She told me to be careful because getting locked in the bathroom is not unheard of in the Capitol building. I guess the locks are old. I thanked her profusely and went back to the office. When I was done for the day, I locked up and headed out, determined not to get lost on my way back to the parking garage.

Good thing I had gone to the bathroom before I left because I immediately got turned around and it took me a while to get out of the Capitol building only to find I came out of a totally unknown exit. I had to walk around for a bit before I found the parking garage I had parked in. It was an interesting first day but I eventually found my way around, to a very limited extent, and never ventured to the bathroom without my phone again. So let my horrible humiliation be a lesson to you. When enjoying the beauty that the Texas State Capitol has to offer, remember where you parked and venture into the bathroom stalls at your own risk!

Why I Decided To Quit My Job To Travel

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Bamboo Walkway – Maui

Since I was a little girl, I loved learning about science and animals. You could even say I was a bit of a fanatic. When friends would come to my house to play, I would make them give presentations about animals based on the information found in my beloved Animal Fact and File Cards. I would tell my family that when I died, I wanted my body to be left in the African savanna so the lions could eat me; something my mom still teases me about from time to time. Even as a small child, I knew science would be my life.

Then I got sick. It began as a constant painful upset stomach. I was feeling tired all the time. Then the bleeding started. I was terrified, exhausted and ashamed. I didn’t understand what was happening to me but I knew I wasn’t myself anymore. I kept it to myself. I would sit around wondering what I had done to bring this on myself. It was over a year of having symptoms before I finally told my mom. When I was about eight years old, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s has been an incredibly destructive force in my life. It, and the chronic anxiety it brings, has controlled my life for as long as I can remember. It’s always there, influencing every decision I make. Dictating what I can and can’t do, where I can and can’t go, what I can and can’t eat or drink. Crohn’s made getting though school, and life, very difficult. I couldn’t focus anymore. I felt angry, sad and isolated all the time. Some days I didn’t have the strength to pull myself out of bed. When I did actually make it to school, I would often have to spend the majority of the day sick in the bathroom. My childhood memories are mostly of doctor visits, hospital stays, the horrible side effects from the medications prescribed and the loneliness Crohn’s has caused me.

Despite all of this, I knew what I wanted and nothing was going to stop me, not even my own failing body. I worked hard and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Animal Biology with a minor in Spanish and a Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management. I went on to take a job with an environmental agency. I hoped it would be fulfilling and make me feel like everything I had struggled through had been worth it. I realized immediately that it would not be the job I was hoping for. The work was basically data entry for people with science degrees. Constant issues with management left much of the staff feeling unappreciated and disengaged. The turnover rate was shockingly high because many felt as though management saw them as completely disposable. It was a very depressing place to spend 40 hours of your life every week for years. I feel that place caused me to lose my passion and drive for life.

During this time, I felt stuck in a relationship with someone I had nothing in common with. From the beginning I wanted things to change but any time I expressed even the slightest negative feeling towards our situation, he would freak out and guilt me into tolerating it. Everyday was the same dissatisfied boredom and I was incredibly unhappy. I decided that I needed a break from the monotony and wanted to take a group vacation to Costa Rica for my 30th birthday. I talked about it for weeks and began planning. Several friends had already committed to the trip when he had one of his meltdowns. He made me feel so guilty and selfish for wanting to take this trip that I cancelled it. Then, a couple of months before my birthday, I couldn’t take it anymore. After two years, I finally ended the relationship. I hated myself for letting someone else influence my life choices so much and for so long. I vowed that I would never forgo my own happiness to appease someone else ever again.

I began focusing on bettering myself. Going to yoga more often. Trying to meditate, which is a huge challenge for someone with a mind that does nothing but bounce from one insane worry to the next obsessively. I tried to think about positive things. The idea of a taking a solo vacation kept coming into my mind. When my birthday came, my friends threw me a great surprise party. I felt loved and thankful to have so many amazing people in my life.

A week or so later, I had my first sensory deprivation experience. It was exciting and calming while also being somewhat unsettling. Something happened in there. I’m not sure what. On the drive home, I realized I had decided that I was not just going to take a solo vacation. I had made the decision to quit the job I loathed and go spend several months in South America. I eventually chose beautiful Ecuador as my destination country. The Galápagos Islands have always fascinated me and I felt it would be the perfect place to reignite my passion for science and living life. I will be living on San Cristóbal Island for three weeks while I do volunteer conservation work with the Ubelong organization. I will also spend a month living in a yoga ashram. During this time I will focus on meditation and mindfulness while I obtain my yoga teacher certification at Durga’s Tiger School – Casa Kiliku outside of Quito. Yoga and meditation have become great tools for easing my Crohn’s symptoms and calming my mind. I hope that by taking my practice deeper, I will find a place where Crohn’s and anxiety are no longer an issue.

As excited as I am, I’m also terrified. I have no idea what will happen over there. Maybe everything will be wonderful and it will be the best decision I have ever made. Maybe I will be sick and alone the whole time and it will be awful. Regardless of what happens, I will be satisfied knowing that it was a decision I made for myself, in spite of the fear. Crohn’s disease has been the biggest obstacle in my life, but it will be an obstacle I continue to overcome everyday. Now is my time. No more 40-hour weeks in windowless cubicles doing soul sucking passionless work. No more dealing with people who hold me back from what I want. And especially no more going through life letting fear dictate my level of happiness. Fear took my childhood and a significant portion of my adulthood away from me but now I decide what I’ll do, where I’ll go and what I’ll eat and drink. There is no point in limiting myself anymore. It will be with me no matter what and I refuse to let it keep me from the things I want any longer.