Cars are expensive pets. Expensive, high-maintenance pets, and no shortage of moving parts and things to break down. This weekend we had two incidents.
The Other Trouble came first, after the "free" $25-a-ticket nacho dinner at the Home and Garden Show, but that's a whole 'nother story. The thing is, a light on the dashboard came on. I'm not sure, but I think it was a picture of a battery. We were on the freeway, with no place to pull over, so I handed the car manual to my Man, who was in the back seat with the Blue-Eyed Boy, and he tried to diagnose us on the run. Those car manuals are chock-full of all sorts of information, just not the information we need. Trying to find anything in there is basically an exercise in futility.
While he thumbed through the book, I drove. It was getting darker by the mile, outside and in, with our dash lights and our headlights fading away, but we were out there in the middle of nowhere, so we kept going on the hope that we would get home before we conked out. But just two or three miles from home we heard some scary sounds from under the van, followed by some scary jolts, and that was that.
Most of the roads in Texas have a shoulder where you can pull over, but this particular stretch of highway has been under construction for the last four years, and the side of the road is lined with orange barrels where the shoulder should be. So ~ taught in my early driving days by my dad, I can parallel park with the best of them ~ I pulled over in between two of the barrels.
A phone call to Geico brought assurance that the wrecker would be there within 45 minutes. Time, and dark enough, to take a nap, only it turned out that we had stopped just before an entrance ramp. We already knew there would be traffic whizzing by on our left side. What we were not prepared for were the cars and every other assortment of vehicles on our right side speeding up to join the freeway. Every time one of these came by we were given a good shake, reminding us that we were just inches away from disaster, so we could never quite relax and enjoy our predicament.
The Tire Trouble came about just a day or two later when we were outside watching the kids play. BB1, who was hiding behind Nellie, suddenly asked, "What's wrong with this tire?" Earlier that day the Blue-Eyed Boy had asked the same question. They clearly knew something I did not. My Man came over to inspect it, and whaddya know, there was a big screw sticking out of the tire, calling for a trip to MoreMart.
Good news/bad news. The good news: "Pull right up!" I cannot remember one other time in my relationship with MoreMart that I have been first in line (Remember when they had "You're always next in line" signs at the checkouts? Definitely another rant for another time.). The bad news: "The screw is too close to the side and we can't fix it. You need a new tire. Only $90." We normally get our tires at MoreMart, and we normally have road hazard, but these tires were bought by D and Da in Temple before M fell heir to Nellie.
So those nice MoreMart employees replaced the mortally wounded tire with the little pretend spare tire and a caution not to exceed 50 mph all the 30-mile way to Temple, but by then it was too late to creep anywhere but home. I arrived with my dialing finger ready and got right to work calling E Tires in Temple and discovered, quite by surprise, that we had to go no farther than Killeen, which was more than far enough on that non-tire.
The next afternoon we headed off to get our new tire. That was one long 10-mile trip ~ driving in the slow lane, hugging the non-shoulder, eating the dust of every last vehicle speeding past us on the road, and when we finally got there, unlike at MoreMart, we found quite a line ahead of us. But only two hours later, it was our turn. Thanks to road hazard at E Tires, we got a brand-new tire for just under $10, and we hit the road toward home.
So that is one little glitch taken care of, and at least I should be lucky that we have cars to spare, because the van, meanwhile, sits at the curb where the wrecker so expertly parked it on his very first try. Its turn is coming up, and this is just a guess on my part, but I'm thinking $10 isn't going to fix this one.
When you're a kid, the scariest noises may come from under the bed. But when you're an adult, the scariest noises come from under the car.
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