My wife planned a ski weekend for us that went a bit off schedule when the serpentine belt on our car broke at 4:00 p.m. yesterday. We were 1 mile from our hotel, so I muscled it back. My wife is a AAA member(her parents have kept her in the family plan for a long time) but before calling them, first I contacted an auto repair guy I found that was open late on weekends.

The guy was awful. I’m on the phone with him and he says “I’m close, I’ll just come over and look and see if the parts available.” He arrives, looks under the hood and then puts Herculean effort on a pulley and says the AC compressor bearing failed and jammed which caused the belt to break. I had noticed that some power steering fluid had spilled out and my theory before he arrived was that the fluid had cause the belt to slip off or wear from slipping. When he gave me his diagnosis, I reached down to the pulley and it felt rough, but I could spin it by hand without a lot of effort. I told him I was skeptical, at which point he said, “well yo already owe me $100 for the diagnosis visit.” And I spent a minute fuming, tried pointing out that it was crap really nicely, and then just said, “that’s my sign you shouldn’t be the one to do the work, I’ll pay but it’s pretty stupid to not mention it before you come out.”

So we called up AAA, and they told me, “you’re 100 miles from home so you qualify for trip insurance but you’re still close enough for a free tow home.” So we rented an Altima, got one more night in the hotel, both can get reimbursed and I get to have a long awkward ride with a tow truck driver tomorrow per AAA policy that the owner must be present for drop off.

But we decided to bail on the skiing.