Category Archives: Ford/Toyota Chronicles

Horror Story, Anyone?

From a very young age, I have had an extremely overactive imagination. And one that goes beyond the realm of cerebral pictures and passing thoughts, and straight into my cells as if all that’s conjured is as real as the racing heart it creates. The last horror movie I saw was in 1987 and images from it continue to eerily dance and taunt me whenever they catch wind of the rare occasions on which I lack company after sundown.

The scenario that has always sent the most frigid chills up my spine, is that of the best friend, sister or parent, after three hours of trusting camaraderie, being unveiled as the demon or serial killer.  Even as I write this, I take brief pauses to look behind me with caution, expecting to see my husband with red eyes and an open mouth screech, holding a hatchet and a satanic symbol. (I began to google “satanic symbol” in order to add specificity to my writing, but I could not bring myself to type those words into the search bar for fear of opening an evil portal.)


So, with this background information, please understand the complete emotional breakdown that occurred this afternoon, and don’t judge me as harshly as those who man the phones at dealerships in the states of California, New Mexico and New jersey.

I can honestly say that when this car debacle began 60 days ago, I stayed relatively calm.  Clear, deliberate and emphatic about what needed to be done, but calm and collected. There was nary a screaming match or a curse word uttered. (Not on the phone, anyway)

But, today…my goodness….. today…..
I LOST IT.   COMPLETELY LOST IT.  The raging monster within was unleashed after two months of captivity. Horror of horrors!

I mentioned in previous posts, that the Toyota dealership in Albuquerque, where our engine nearly exploded, was the haven to which we ran. They were the good guys joining the good fight against the evil doers at Galpin Ford of California. I even titled one of my posts “My Friend Tim“, referring to the dealership’s service manager. They took our hands, held our babies and assured us that they were our saviors in this nightmare of a tale.

However, as many of you know, 48 hours after receiving our car back from Albuquerque Toyota, fresh with a new engine, radiator, and a long list of other  engine related components, to the tune of 10,000 dollars, the transmission died in the middle of the highway, as Rocket carried the precious cargo of my Husband and two babies.

After nearly three weeks and three new transmissions, New Jersey Toyota was coming up short. Finally, upon connecting with the Japanese engineers via internet, they discovered that the radiator installed by Albuquerque Toyota was faulty and shooting metal shrapnel through the system, destroying each transmission.  Toyota refused to cover the new radiator because for some reason, Albuquerque Toyota, although a Toyota dealership, did not use a Toyota certified radiator.

Up until this news, our rental vehicle had been paid for, along with all parts and service.  So our main concern was getting the car up and running safely, no matter how long it took.  But, all companies cut the cord of their assistance at the same time, leaving us to watch as 60 dollars a day would begin to take flight out of the window with no real time frame for completion.

THIS was the reason for my screaming and yelling. Not the four million other back asswards things that have gone wrong since the purchase of our Sienna on December 17th, 2011, not the childish finger-pointing all three parties have been doing, insisting that they themselves are not at fault, and not the countless hours a day we have spent on the phone and awaiting return calls.

On basic principle, I refuse to see even two dollars of this mess come out of our pockets. It’s just not OK. The full time job that dealing with all of this has become should be providing us with a six figure salary AT LEAST!

In conclusion (as if there is any chance in hell this will actually be the conclusion) we were able to get the extended warranty to cover the radiator.  Shocking, as they have found every reason in the book to weasel out of paying for anything else. And, although the service manager at New Jersey Toyota thinks I am a horrible human being, fresh out of his own worst nightmares, my demonic phone call did result in a free loaner vehicle while Rocket undergoes his fifth or sixth open heart surgery.

This vehicle just so happens to be…….

A Toyota Sienna.

How’s that for a nail-biting cliff hanger?

As I did get carried away in my own story telling with this entry, I feel it needs to be said that I believe that Tim at Albuquerque Toyota is not a demon. Nor are the guys here in Jersey. And, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that even those at Galpin Ford are not evil either.  In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe any of these people did anything purposefully and knowingly wrong, and all parties have gotten burned. Galpin the most. I believe they have shelled out 19,000 dollars for this mess. But, although unfortunate for all parties involved, I’m standing firm that it has affected us the most.

We should all meet at a midpoint spiritual retreat center, hold hands, raise our voices in a harmonious rendition of Kumbaya, beg for forgiveness, and pray for the end of all pain and suffering.

Until then, for the love of all things Sacred and Holy, someone…..PLEASE just fix the freakin’ car!


And, that’s that.

Al, from Galpin Ford, North Hills, CA finally returned our calls.  He stated cheerfully that they believe that they have gone above and beyond and will not doing any more.   Evidently “things happen to cars” and this is nothing out of the ordinary.


We are going to look for a lawyer.  If any of you know one well versed in California Consumer Protection/Lemon Law, let me know.

The funniest part of all of this is the post-card we received in the mail today from Galpin.  It was a picture of the gentleman who sold us the Sienna, shaking hands with the owners of the auto company.  The caption read:

“Salesman of the Year”

It is displayed on our fridge for our amusement.

As for the rest of the evening.  I am going to urge my husband to attempt to let go of the angst he’s carrying as a result of the extremely heated conversation with Galpin Ford, so that we might enjoy what’s left of Valentine’s Day.  Our crazy, romantic plans?  A  Gin Rummy tournament.  Winner gets a foot massage.  If the winner is me.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Pseudologia Fantastica

Before posting my last entry, I paused. Do I dare publish this?  People are going to think I’m making this up? This is ludicrous!  This CANNOT be a true story!

And then, I myself started to question it. You know those moments in life when you think, “This is insane.  It has to be a dream,” and you close your eyes and will yourself awake? Well, I have yet to awaken out of  this knotty and disheveled yarn.

Interestingly enough, on my way back from Fresno, a magazine article on personality disorders appeared in the seat-back pocket in front of me.  I became intrigued as learned about “Pseudologia Fantastica”. AKA, pathological lying.  Hmmmm…. interesting, indeed. Definite peanuts for thought.

It seems as though this psychosis can actually create a steadfast belief in the mind of it’s victims, that all they are saying is in fact the truth.

“Pseudologia fantastica may present as false memory syndrome, where the sufferer genuinely believes that fictitious events have taken place, regardless that these events are fantasies.” (1)

As the puddle-jumping aircraft toted myself and ten other passengers to our connecting flight in Los Angeles, the mind numbing drone of the engine propelled me into a rabbit hole toward the Twilight Zone.

If it is true that those suffering from Pseudologia fantastica often believe their own lies with absolute, unwavering conviction, could it be possible that none of what I have been posting is true? Could I actually have no husband, no children, no Broadway career, and most importantly no Sour Sienna?

My head was spinning! Who am I? What is life? What is reality? Does this blog exist?

Cue creepy “doo, doo, doo, doo” music.

Upon my supposed landing in Newark, NJ, I am going to request an immediate transport to the nearest mental ward for observation.

But, before I check in to my padded room in Belleview, shimmy into a straight jacket and allow them to administer shock-waves and electrodes to my brain, I will give you the update to my current “fantastica” reality.

Erin’s husband fetched my babies from the side of the road, and brought them to the safety of their home for a joyful play-date, fully serviced with Clifford the Big Red Dog, and strawberry pancakes.  This sickly brain sure does conjure unbelievable friends!

Hubby was towed, along with the Sienna to the nearest Toyota Dealership to get the news that the transmission is completely irreparable. Gone. Kaput.

However, it seems that this malfunction slipped undetected, under the noses of the Toyota Warrantee Commission and is fully covered. Good news.

Bad news…

Although the two major components of the car are about to be brand spankin’ new, the Hogles no longer feel safe in the Sienna. Call us worry warts if you will.

Erin and her Husband have graciously lent us their second vehicle for the weekend.  GALPIN Ford has agreed to pay for our rental car thereafter while we await the repair, and will be contacting us on Monday to discuss the possibility of saying a final farewell to Rocket.  The Bottle Banning Baby fared perfectly well.  She was still completely offended at the mere suggestion of milk in a bottle or cup, but ate lots of food, drank lots of water, and found no need to awaken during the night-time hours.  Who needs Mommy?

Stay tuned…

If the hospital is unable to rehabilitate, I may have more stories for you.

(1) a b Dike CC, Baranoski M, Griffith EE (2005). “Pathological lying revisited”. The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 33 (3): 342–9. PMID 16186198.
^ a b c d Dike, Charles C. (June 1, 2008). Pathological Lying: Symptom or Disease?. 25.


I apologize for the crass title. I truly do. Mostly because my Mother, Mother-in-Law, childhood church Minister and his wife read my blog from time to time, I believe. But, there simply is no other phrase more appropriate at this moment in time. Any others offended by my choice of acronyms, I would advise you to stop reading, as you will be more offended by what’s to follow.

I am on a plane as I type on my blackberry.  Device in “airplane mode” of course. No real connection to the world below. I am dying right now. Seriously dying.

We packed up the kids in footed pajamas, at 7 a.m., loaded them in our refurbished Toyota Sienna and headed for Newark airport. I am scheduled this weekend to perform in a “Wicked Divas” concert in Fresno, CA because, as you all know, I am a huge Diva. HUGE. (But that’s not the offensive part.)

In 2010, when I agreed to this job, I must have thought that in February 2012 the children would surely be off to college and fully independent. Or possibly at that point, as our move was not yet planned, I thought it would entail a 3 hour drive North, not a cross-country flight.  (Yes, the thought of anyone in this family journeying back West at this point is offensive, but still not the reason for the abrasive title.)

An hour ago, my anxiety level reached what I THOUGHT was it’s max, at the fact that not only is my 13 month old still nursing frequently, but she refuses milk products from any spigot other than those of Cafe Mamma.  She is cut off for the next 58 hours. Cafe Mamma is temporarily closed for dough making.  Good Luck, Daddy and big bro! (Still not the offensive portion of the tale, although describing breasts as “spigots” could be offensive to some, if not just a touch unsettling.)

As I said my goodbyes, walked away from my family, and on to the ticket counter, I thought “Wow. How is Steve going to handle this? How is she? She’s going to think I abandoned her! I might be the worst Mother ever and this will surely affect our relationship throughout her teenage years!”

That was an hour ago, when trivial matters such as starving my child and creating abandonment issues were the most of my worries.

NOW, onto the “WTF” portion.

After getting through Security, I saw I had missed a call from Steve. I quickly called back and got an immediate text response saying, “On the phone.”.

On the phone? Who would he be talking to at 7:30 in the morning?  I spiraled down fast, and images I cannot put in writing swarmed the movie in my mind. Hyperventilating by Gate 75 C, I preceded to dial my husband over and over and over and over and over, as airline passengers spun around me in a blur.

Finally, an exasperated Steve answered the 27th call from his Wife.

The kids are fine. Well, more fine than in any of the horrific possibilities conjured by Mommy’s overactive and terrifyingly picturesque imagination.

The last piece of information I got was that my children and Husband were stranded on the side of the road near Newark, NJ (it seems as though everything I say in jest comes true…see previous entry), due to a failed transmission.

I know nothing more. The flight attendants held the doors open as long as they could, while I frantically dialed friends whose number’s Steve does not have, and googled Toyota service centers in our area. Thankfully, the gentleman with the Iphone overheard, and found this information much quicker than I could on my blackberry. (Note to self: buy an Iphone and stop whining about the lack of button keyboard. You’ll get used to it like the rest of the country.)

Before I was forced to shut off my phone, I got a hold of my blessed friend, Erin who lives 10 minutes away. She said “Mamma! You get on that plane. We got this. I love you.”. I pressed and held down the power button and burst into tears.

5 hours and 42 minutes of radio silence remaining….

5 hours and 41…

5 hours and 40……..

This is gonna be a long flight.

Rocket Has Arrived!!!!

For those of you who are new to this blog, Rocket is our Toyota Sienna whom we abandoned in Albuquerque, NM on our way from Los Angeles to New York. He got his name from our son who stayed glued to episode after repeating episode of Disney’s Little Einsteins in an effort to save a small portion of our sanity during the epic road trip with 2 small children and 2 small dogs

If you missed the Ford/Toyota Saga, click here.

The rental car in which we continued our journey from New Mexico, is now being returned after 35 days in our possession. We’ll be sure to notify Enterprise of the punctured tire, which we have been placating for 2 weeks with a daily stop for air at the local gas station. Thankfully, the slab of metal protruding from it, only caused a slow leak and not one that left us on the side of the highway awaiting a tow truck.  I boycotted getting it fixed in a silent protest of sorts. The thought of being stuck in sub zero temperatures near downtown Newark, NJ with two children, was one that sounded rather appealing, compared to that of dealing with yet another vehicle repair.  Judge if you must.

But, it is over…

….albeit the passenger seat headrest  ____Ford promised to order and send within 10 days from the time of our original purchase. That detail was overshadowed by the slightly larger issue of a disintegrating and on-the-verge of exploding engine. But, on the way to Target this evening, my neck grew weary and longed for a cushiony reprieve.  ____Ford got a call from me today requesting it.

I have yet to hear back, but I’m sure I’m on the top of their list.
The name of that list, I shall not say.

But, our car has arrived, making our move across the country officially complete.

Now….let’s get to work!  The cost of the next catastrophe will surely be on US!!!

See?  There I go…being negative again.

My Friend, Tim

I received a call today from my friend, Tim, at  the Albuquerque Toyota service department. He sounded sort of down.

“Hey there, Timmy!  Why so blue?  Tell me your troubles. Maybe I can help?”

Well, Tim was upset because the long-awaited engine they ordered to doctor up our Sienna, had arrived and was missing parts…or had incompatible parts….or broken parts…something about parts. I was wandering around Ikea and wasn’t really listening. He said he had ordered  another, but it would not arrive for another week and a half. I think he was bracing himself for more of a reaction from Yours Truly.

“Well, turn that frown upside down, Tim!  All is good. Just kindly inform ___ Ford that we will be keeping the 2011 Town and Country rental, on their dime for another 2 or 3 weeks.”

He thanked me, and I went about my business searching for do-it-yourself furniture.

But, while trying to decide between Skojig wall lamp and the Ekby Hemnes ceiling fixture, a harrowing thought occurred to me. We absent-mindedly left Zachary’s dirty clothes hamper in the Sienna, 2037.36 miles away, in New Mexico.  Countless times a day, we are faced with the conundrum of what to do with his soiled articles of clothing. Do we walk across the hall to our hamper? Or, one door down to Isabelle’s? Or, must we take the clothes directly to the washing machine itself?

What on earth would you do??

Journeying East – The New Solution

Are you all tired of this story? Cause we are!  We were notified by Albuquerque Toyota this morning that ___Ford had still not contacted them and that because the engine had yet to be ordered, it would not be here until next Thursday or Friday.  This would not put us on the road until the following Monday or Tuesday.  I then called Ford for the 384th time and explained with stern kindness, this sentiment:

“Hi Al.  It’s Emily Smith. (I am amused by the fact that I still use an alias on this blog, as everyone knows who I am, but playing anonymous makes me feel mysterious) I so appreciate all you have done to make this right and know that this has been just as much of a headache for you as it has been for us.  Here is what I think would be most cost-effective for all involved.  As you guys are paying for our Hotel and food, and days continue to be added on to this as we await for all parties to OK everything and get all of the necessary paperwork in order, it would make more sense for you to get us a one way rental and have the car shipped to us once it is repaired.  As lovely as Albuquerque is, we have a long drive ahead of us and were not prepared for a month-long sojourn”


“Ummmm.  Ok.  Let me talk to the powers that be and get back to you”

Later, as we were enjoying the polar bears at the Albuquerque Zoo, I received a call from Al. He said,

“Hello, Emily.  When would you like to leave Albuquerque?”

“What do you mean?  As soon as possible?”

“Can you leave now?”

I laughed out loud as his subtext seemed so clearly to be “Can you people kindly get the bloody he@# out of the Southwest and never return!?”

“We would love to get back on the road tomorrow morning if you can work that out.”

“OK.  There will be 2011 mini van waiting for you at the Albuquerque Airport this evening.  You will keep the car until yours is fixed and shipped to you.  We are calling the Hotel today to fax them a credit card authorization form.   And you will soon receive the paperwork stating that both of your warranties are valid.”

“Thanks so much, Al.  I’m sure you will be happy to not hear from me 17 times a day!”  I added with a giggle.


“Thank you, Emily.  Good luck on your move.”

So, that’s that.  We are back on the road tomorrow.  All of our belongings on the moving truck will be arriving on Saturday.  Let’s get the show on the road!