This is the start of my third week back at work, and I am gradually getting used to my new routine.
It was really hard going back to work after three months off, and the timing was not exactly good as there were things I still wanted to work on, but will now have to wait until I have the time.
True to form, this job is in an area of South Florida that I didn’t know, and actually I think that every single job that I have ever had has been in an area that I didn’t know before I started working there. It’s a bit daunting at first, but it does give you a chance to explore new areas, and you never know what you will find. Here for example there is a state park opposite where I work, so I can walk through there at lunchtime, look at the turtles in the marine center, and stand at the top of the beach, enjoying the cooling breeze while I talk to Debbie on the phone.
The sad thing is that I started back to work the week before my daughters finished school for the year. It would have been nice to be able to take them out during the week, especially since they live with their Mom 25 miles from me, but now I am too busy at work to be able to do that. Also this is a long drive for me, as the work location is 45 miles north of where I live. The girls of course live 25 miles south of me, so if I was to try and see them in the evening during the week it would be a 70 mile drive in rush hour traffic and in my old car too, so it isn’t going to happen unfortunately.
Admittedly the drive is 45 miles each way, but so far apart from Friday evening when it was raining heavily, the traffic flow has been good, and it takes about 50 minutes. That’s not so bad, considering that in the early 90’s I used to drive the 10 miles from home to work in London, and it would take at least an hour, and on several occasions 2 1/2 hours! My last job was really close to home, so that took just over 10 minutes to get to and from the office, but most of us aren’t that lucky. In the scheme of things 50 minutes isn’t that bad really.
My main worry though is my car. I drive a 1996 Toyota Avalon, which has almost 142,000 miles behind it. It’s in good condition, the engine runs great, there is no rust, it even still has the original muffler (exhaust), but the suspension needs looking at.
The Toyota dealership said that it needed new struts and quoted me $1,800 to replace them, which is rather expensive for a car that’s only worth about that if I was to sell it. Especially after three months off work that’s a big financial OUCH! Since the car was starting to vibrate a bit at speed, I took it into a tire place, where they put it up onto the ramp, and checked it out. No mention of any problem with the suspension, but they said that one fo the rims was bent and the wheels needed to be rotated and aligned. $22 later the car now runs smoothly.
However it’s not all good news, as they said that the tires were cracking and would need replacing. There is still plenty of tread on them, I have probably only done 10,000 miles if that, so now with driving over 500 miles a week I have to watch out for that too. I can’t justify paying expensive maintenance bills right now, and I also can’t afford a newer car. Don’t you love being in these catch-22 situations?
So I just have to drive carefully, not do any sharp manoevering or braking, and keep my fingers crossed that my car will last as long as I need it to without having to spend a lot of money.