Ever been hit by a car while walking? Well, now I have… {UPDATED!}

As I’ve mentioned to anybody who’ll stand still long enough, I love my car partially because it’s just such an awesome car and partially because it saved my life 7-1/2yrs ago. So, Volkswagen has held a special place in my heart as a brand that can SAVE LIVES. Those ads they used to run where the people would be talking in the car and then suddenly you’d see them standing on the side of the road next to a wreck of a car that they easily escaped from? Yeah, I’ve had that happen to me.

And now I can add American Tourister to the list of “life-saving” brands.

Last week, I was at a conference in that bastion of civilization, Alexandria, VA. As a native Washingtonian and a naturalized Marylander, I have a general sneer when it comes to the parts of Virginia that are just damned inconvenient to get to, and Alexandria is on that list. As a matter of fact, in the 24 years I lived in the DC area, I think I went to Alexandria TWICE. When I was offered the option to go to a conference there, I pulled on my big girl panties and said, “FINE – I’LL GO TO NOWHERESVILLE NORTHERN VIRGINIA”. (As my Arlington friends chuckle, because they know that I’ll happily hang anywhere on the Orange line and miss my time on Clarendon.)

The last morning of the conference, I was walking the 1/2mi from my hotel to the conference hotel, with my American Tourister rolling bag on my left and my laptop bag across my body, hanging on my right. There is an apartment complex across from the hotel where the conference was held, and the crosswalk in front of it is broken up by a small island (one lane into the complex, island, one lane out). The walk light was firmly lit, so off I went across the first part of the crosswalk...and that’s when it happened.

With no warning, my rolling bag came flying into my left leg and I was promptly dropped on my ass (what I described to others as a very rough version of falling rapidly and harshly on an extremely icy ski slope, in terms of the hardness of the surface). What in the…? I looked up and saw a small white car stop.

Holy crap, I was just hit by a car.

I went over to the driver, who didn’t get out of his car (what a lovely human being!), as he stammered over and over again, “You have to forgive me! Please forgive me!”

I honestly wasn’t sure WHAT to say. I was just hit by a car.

I said a few choice words at the driver – although far fewer than I expected myself to say – and I made it perfectly clear that I wasn’t going to give him the absolution he craved. How do you forgive someone for hitting you with a car? I can understand forgiving someone who accidentally let a door swing shut on you, but that’s not a one-ton thing powered by an engine.

I checked the one leg that felt a little off, and it just sustained some minimal scrapes; it wasn’t until later that I felt somewhat bruised on my hip – but that was also minor and I had a very large bottle of ibuprofen. Honestly, it was the bag that saved my life – or at least my left leg. If I hadn’t had my rolling bag on the side where the car hit, the car would’ve taken out my already dodgy knee, and instead of angrily walking to the conference in shock – and a snit – I would’ve been in an ambulance en route to one of Northern Virginia’s fine hospitals. The suitcase did sustain some minor damage, specifically a crack in one of the handle rods, but I managed to resolve it well enough to get myself home and am now just hoping American Tourister can help me get a replacement handle to solve the problem fully.

The bag in question is this awesome little suitcase that I got as part of my DisneySide party gear; it’s the PERFECT bag for a 2-3 night trip, and now I know it can take some serious body blows…like from a moving vehicle probably going 15mph. I took it on a bunch of trips this year, and it’s small enough that you can stow it easily on a plane or a train, yet it’s also roomy enough that you don’t feel like you’re cramming in just a few days worth of stuff into a one-night bag. It rolls very smoothly and the ball wheels make it super-easy to navigate even without putting it on an incline. It’s also light as all get-out, so it’s very maneuverable and easier to wrestle in/out of an overhead bin.

Party Kit

The awesome American Tourister bag – plus all the lovely party supplies for my #DisneySide party from February

For a better close-up of my new favorite bag (which I actually fell in love with before it saved me from a trip to the hospital), check it out at Amazon.com: American Tourister Have A Ball 20″ Spinner.

So, kids, I guess the lessons are as follows:

1. When offered an opportunity to stay at the conference hotel, even if it’s not a Marriott and you won’t get all the awesome points that you want, JUST STAY THERE FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY.

2. Always walk with your rolling bag on the same side as where a car may hit you.

3. ALWAYS take the opportunity to buy a Volkswagen if you have the means; they are built like tanks and that may come in handy someday (hopefully you’ll never need it, like I did).

4. Buy American Tourister. They’ve got a fan for life in me, and now I know my luggage brand of choice from this point forward. Any luggage brand that can keep me out of the hospital wins my money forever.


Update as of January 9, 2015: The lovely folks at American Tourister were proud of their product that saved me, and they told me to keep an eye out for a special “surprise”. Well, they didn’t disappoint…they sent me a brand new three-piece luggage set! WOWEE!!! I didn’t expect that when I originally wrote this post – nor did I ask them for ANYTHING, but I have to say that a brand that saves your life and then thanks you for it – that’s an AMAZING brand and they have my eternal love and gratitude.

What they sent:

My new American Tourister luggage!

pretty in pink!

Just awesome. I simply can’t put it any other way. Thank you, American Tourister!

Product Review: Kenmore 7.3 cu ft gas dryer w/sensor dry (Model #91372)

Once upon a time, we had a Samsung gas dryer that liked to leave brown marks on clothing for no discernible reason. It was a pain in the butt to get repaired, since most repairs were costly and required waiting on the ONE Samsung repair guy to get the part from the ONE boat that came to New England from Korea. So I decided to go to Sears to get a new dryer. When it gets to the point when you can’t get your husband to wash his brand new work shirt because he fears what the dryer will do to it, YOU NEED A NEW DRYER. {for the saga on what buying the dryer was like, go to the post about buying & receiving then dryer, then read the follow-up post about what happened after I pushed for decent customer service}

One thing that I noticed out of this experience was that few people, if any, ever reviewed dryers outside of the couple of reviews that were on Sears’ own web site. That’s not super-helpful. So, here’s my review of the dryer I bought, in case anybody else wants to buy one. Note also that this is a white-labeled LG, which is also top-rated by Consumer Reports. Figure that if you buy the LG version of this or the Kenmore version of this, it stands to reason that the performance should be within a minimal margin of error.

Kenmore Dryer Model 91372

This dryer currently retails for $1299.99 and we paid $999.99, a mere $40 under the price listed on the Sears web site as of February 16, 2013. Depending upon your state regs, you may or may not have to tack on the cost of professional gas installation; delivery and installation fees above and beyond that are typically things you can get out of if you manage to hit Sears at a time when they have a free installation offer running.

My four key dryer requirements are: performance (must dry well), size (must have excellent capacity), speed (must not take 2hrs to dry a load of delicates), and ease of repair.

We chose this model so that we could have something roughly equivalent in size to the Samsung we were replacing and with similar features, such as the sensor dry. Please note that ALL of the comments below are based on the dryer’s performance FOLLOWING the replacement of the problematic vent flap.

Performance: GOOD. The dryer’s sensor dry settings work quite well when you set the dryer to the “Extra Dry” setting. Leaving the sensor setting on the default middle dry setting seems to leave a few more clothes in the damp / not quite dry state than you’d have if you just bump it up a notch. The time sacrificed for this is minimal; it seems to be maybe a handful of minutes longer to get dryer clothes. We typically stick to the “Casual” setting, which appears to be somewhere between what we know as “Delicate” and “Permanent Press” and that’s our general go-to setting.

Size: EXCELLENT. If you stuff your washer, the dryer can handle everything you put in and then some. it has a cavernous interior with a bonus light that helps you spot that one random child’s sock you’d rather not have to come back for after you made it all the way upstairs with a full load of dry clothes. The one caveat I have here is that the dryer has issues with very small loads. It just doesn’t catch them in the sensor nearly as well because items may not touch the sensor. Super small loads should go in on the time dry settings and just be manually controlled for temperature and time.

Speed: GOOD. Loads finish generally close to the time initially indicated when you set the dryer up, and we haven’t found many cases where we’ve needed to add time or re-run cycles.

Ease of Repair: EXCELLENT. Sears services everything they sell, and it’s easy to set up an appointment with a Sears home technician over the phone. The Sears tech who came to our house to diagnose the problems I was having with the dryer when I first took delivery was friendly, courteous, knowledgeable and thorough. Having had trouble servicing our Samsung dryer, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that serviceability is a key component of any major appliance purchase for us.

The controls are easy to figure out and operate; as you can see from the picture below, you can control with the knob and then tweak (where allowable) with the settings buttons on the right-hand side of the control panel.

Kenmore dryer control panel

{click to enlarge}

One thing that differs here from what I was used to on the Samsung is that you have to turn the dryer ON before turning the knob or pressing a button; the dryer also turns itself off immediately after a cycle ends. Our prior Samsung dryer used to turn on the second you moved the knob and it displayed “END” when it finished. This is just behavioral changes for us; when we see the control panel is dark, we know the cycle is complete.

Overall verdict: I like this dryer A LOT. Once we got the vent flap issue sorted out, I saw the performance I’d wanted to see all along. The dryer meets my expectations, which is apparently a lot to ask of appliances in an era of (expensive) disposable technology. It’s easy to operate, and if I have service issues, I know exactly where to turn and have every bit of faith that they’ll handle it professionally and quickly.

Where to buy: this dryer is available from Sears and I purchased mine via Sears.com. While it may not be on display at your local Sears, you can always order it there. Given my issues with online purchasing via Sears, I recommend either calling or visiting your local store and giving some nice human being the commission.


Followup: Buying a dryer from Sears

This is a follow-up to a post I wrote last month regarding the completely un-fun experience I had purchasing, receiving, and then using the dryer I bought from Sears. In accordance with my standard refrain of not wanting to review a product before I’d used it a few times, I gave them quite a walloping over what I felt (and still do feel) was a bad purchase process, a deeply flawed delivery process, and a product that left me wondering if I should just return it and start all over.

My social media contact was very nice throughout everything and went as far as to connect me with a “Care Manager” who would handle my specific case. I have no idea how easily such people are typically reached and whether or not you have to raise some form of unholy stink to get to these people if you’re not in some form of media…but I can say that the person I worked with was communicative, friendly and helpful.

He offered me the option of replacing my dryer, either with another of the same model or with a whole other dryer completely. So, I hit the books…well, er, Internet, to try to see what else they had that might fit the bill. The answer really wasn’t promising; there are precious few reviews of dryers, and the ones we found made it fairly clear that no dryer really seemed to be a prize. Dryers either didn’t dry well or didn’t make enough noise to let you know they were done or made too much noise when they were working or OMG ALL DRYERS HAVE ISSUES.


Ultimately, I couldn’t find another dryer that seemed to meet our requirements better than the one we had. Which didn’t work too well. So, crap.

In my desperation to see if there was ANY way to salvage the situation, I called for service. I explained what was needed and made it abundantly clear that I was NOT going to pay for the visit, even though I was told up and down by the apologetic and completely unable-to-think-for-himself CSR that I would be on the hook for $90 if they didn’t find anything wrong with the dryer. There’s a point at which no amount of cussing at the phone will solve a problem, so I just let the steam drain out of my ears and informed him through clenched teeth that I would NOT be paying for the visit and they WOULD fix whatever was wrong or I WOULD have them haul away the dryer. I could hear him nodding while he filed his nails. I’m sure he hears this stuff all day.

And then, a few days later, the repairman came out. I’m not sure how to put this, but he was just utterly fantastic. HE was the reason I bought this dryer. Remember, I wanted something that could be serviced, unlike my Samsung that needed parts swum over from Korea on the back of a whale or something, so having a repairman able to come out, diagnose and fix things is EXACTLY what brought me to Sears.

He plugged his computer into the dryer and got the two machines talking to each other. Then he took my dryer apart to check the motor, vents, and such, and then he took a walk outside to check on the vent outflow. His diagnosis: it’s not the dryer, it’s the vent. The vent flap, a small plastic piece that sits on the end of the vent, wasn’t moving, so airflow was restricted and the dryer was shutting off prematurely. Not being a vent flap expert, I took him at his word and sent him on his way. Even though the issue wasn’t with the dryer itself, per se, the tech fixed things in their system so that I wouldn’t pay. Of all the people in this, he was the first one to proactively suggest that perhaps I didn’t need to undergo one more bit of nuisance. Bless that man.

DH, extremely dubious by this point, went to the local Home Depot and purchased a new vent flap. He fitted it onto the pipe and then we ran a few loads.

And this is the moment where the clouds part, the angels begin singing, and somewhere, wherever he was, that wonderful service tech deserved every bit of the 5-star review I gave him: the dryer dried the clothes properly. I ran a few more loads. It still worked. DH was still dubious – nearly incredulous at the idea that a vent flap could’ve caused all this trouble, and yet it did.

So, here’s the final outcome of the story: I don’t rescind one word of my complaints with the Sears.com purchase or delivery processes; they were both awful and the next time I purchase a major appliance I’m doing it IN THE STORE. At least there I know I can coordinate with a human being who can sort things out for me the first time. I feel utterly vindicated in selecting a product that can be serviced by a Sears tech, because those guys know their stuff.

Lastly, because I don’t want to leave any stone unturned and I’d rather not leave someone in the same position that I was in, I’m going to post a review of the dryer. It’s just not right that purchases of $1000 or more have to be made virtually blind. You take it on faith that the manufacturer built exactly what you want and then you suffer the repair bills or the frustration of wasted money when they didn’t.

Is it all better? Well, I have a working dryer, so that’s a huge plus. Do I feel any better about Sears? When it comes to purchasing IN THE STORE from nice people like Marlon or getting my dryer serviced by nice people like the tech who came out a few weeks ago, YES. When it comes to buying online and having it delivered by people who can’t be bothered to set an appointment in a reasonable fashion…well, that’s a whole other story. I’d also like to reiterate my appreciation for both the social media contact and the Care Manager I worked with; both were patient and tried their best to turn my frown upside down. And now that I have a working dryer – which is all I’d wanted in the first place – that’s much easier for me to do.