June 9th, 2004

Why Do I Even Try?


You might not know it, but I hate to drive. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Little trips around town are fine, but I hate to drive long distances. And, yes, I include 1.25-hour trips in this category.

So when something like the story I’m about to relate happens, it just reaffirms my desire to never leave the house.

I sometimes have occasion to go with our local movie reviewer to see an early showing of an upcoming movie. Tonight we were headed to see Pitch Black 2: Electric Boogaloo (otherwise known as The Chronicles of Riddick), when my van got a flat tire on the Interstate.

No problem! I have a full-size spare in the back and I’m perfectly capable of changing a tire, even though I hate doing it because my hands get so dirty. I get the jack out and jack up the van and get to work removing the lugnuts. It all goes well until the last one. It won’t budge. I try some more, and pretty soon both the lugnut and the tire iron are getting “rounded off,” which means the corners on the nut and the corners in the wrench aren’t grabbing each other any more.

From the road I can see a place called “Wrecks, Inc.” I figure it’s a car place of some sort and might have a better wrench, so I call Information and get their number. A security guy answers and says, no, they’re closed. After I tell him my story, though, he says, “Well, I’ve got one of my own in my truck – I’ll trust you, if you want to come and get it.” It must be something in my voice that causes people to pity me. Can they tell I’m an idiot just by listening to me, I wonder?

So I head in that direction, which involves me climbing over a fence by the Interstate that has a barbed wire at the top. I have a few smarts left (and a healthy fear of tetanus), so I grabbed a floor mat from the van and put it over the barbed wire before climbing over. You know how they put a huge heavy blanket over barbed wire in the movies? It was kinda like that, only a lot more shaky and tentative.

So then I start jogging over this field, which I soon realize is an undeveloped part of a cemetary. Turns out that’s going to be handy, as I am horribly out of shape (worse than I thought!) and have to stop jogging after about 50 yards. I walk the rest of the way, noticing the lovely cement crypts they have sitting out by their warehouse, and the other lovely ones that have been spray-painted gold. Why do people need to have spray-painted gold crypts? No one sees them!

Anyway, I get to the place and get the wrench from the feller (yes, he was definitely a “feller,” not a “dude” or a “guy”) and traipse back to the van. It fits much better, but we cannot get this nut to budge. It just won’t move a centimeter!

So I start calling towing places…

I finally get one that has an available truck, but he says, “I don’t know where we’d tow it – nothing’s open any more.” Grrrrrr. “But,” he continues, “I know a tire place that does roadside assistance.”

Well why didn’t you say so!

I called them up, and yes! they’d be happy to send someone! In an hour.


“Yes,” I said, “Please do.”

While we waited, I took the wrench back over to Ray. I don’t know if that was his real name, but he looked like a Ray to me. I was so thirsty, I asked him if he had a drink-dispensing machine that might have juice or something. All it had was soda.

At this time, let me tell you that, aside from some sips of Vanilla Coke, Vanilla Pepsi, and Pepsi Blue when they first came out, I have not had soda for two and a half years. Let me also tell you that all of this traipsing about and jogging and trying to get the lugnut off had made me extremely thirsty.

I bought a soda. An Orange Crush, because it seemed to be the least damaging of what was available, and I used to like it a lot. Man, was it awful. *shudder* I honestly could hardly drink it. I guess I’ve lost my taste for soda or something. Ugh.

Back to the van. Wait. Finally, the feller came. Yes, another “feller.” But this feller had a HUGE air compressor in the back of his van and was able to use an air ratchet to get the lugnut off in two seconds. Then he put the spare tire on and checked and filled all four tires. Then he charged me a bunch of money and went on his merry way.

I came back home, having not seen any movie and having sat by the side of the road for three hours. Yes. Three.

On the bright side, I got home a little earlier than I would have otherwise, and I was able to get gas for $1.73 on the trip, which is twenty cents cheaper than gas here in town!

So this little trip coupled with the last big one I took really has me wanting to pursue the hermit life. My next one is a week from Friday – I’m headed up to Wisconsin for Father’s Day and my mom’s birthday, and I think Dad has plans to give my van a thorough going-over. I’m thinking that’s not such a bad idea.

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