Last fall, you may remember, D and I found ourselves the proud owners of a wonderfully shredded tire on our car. OK, I figured, maybe the trip from Nashville to Dallas was a bit too hard on the low-profile tires, especially that tiny little piece from the eastern edge of Arkansas to the western edge of Arkansas.
Those are 279 ugly, nasty brutish miles of pavement. It reminds me of the Louisiana gravel roads I learned to drive on, roads into which the daily summer thunderstorms carved a deep washboard pattern that-t-t k-k-k-k-k-ind of m-m-m-m-m-ade your-r-r-r t-t-t-eeth r-r-r-rattle and bounced all of the fizzy out of your Coke real fast.
So, after carefully weighing our options for 3.2 seconds, we got a new tire. I might’ve grumbled a bit.
‘Twas just a couple of weeks later when my cheery mood was again darkened by another shredded tire. This one looked as if razor-toothed rats from hell had been chewing on it. The flat occurred along a dicey strip of Josey Lane between D’s lab and our house, and it was about 183 degrees that evening, which just added to the good times.
So, after carefully weighing our options for about 2.4 seconds, we got a second new tire. I definitely grumbled a bit.
At least this past Friday night, when D called to tell me our third tire had blown up, it was a beautiful 73 degrees. Unfortunately, it was along the same colorful strip of Josey Lane. And this time it was later and darker and a weekend night, so the most colorful of the colorful elements were roaming around.
Indeed, I had to wade through a a cloud of fragrant herb smoke and a crowd of teenagers clad only in black and carrying bolt-cutters to even find to the car, which D had managed to pull into the parking lot of a closed Korean church. So I arrived on-scene accompanied by Chase, a small cooler of beer, two flashlights and a 9mm Glock.
Now, we’re pretty handy. But the tires on this car aren’t the easiest to change, requiring a degree in automotive design from MIT; a wheel lock tool molded only in Ingolstadt, Germany; proficiency in Archimedean theory; and a wad of chewed bubble gum.
So imagine how difficult it is to change that tire with one hand, while the other is holding a cold beer and a flashlight, with a loaded 9mm tucked in your waistband. Besides, it gets your hands all grimy, and I hate to be grimy almost as much as I hate to be sticky.
So, I caved in. However, a call to roadside assistance brought an estimate of two hours for a tire-changer to arrive, for the privilege of charging us $100 for the experience. It was $100 when the dispatcher first answered, and it was still $100 after I explained politely that no, I didn’t want them to tow the car, or go get a new tire to install, or include a free Picasso original sketch — I just wanted them to change the tire. ($100? I’ve found my next investment: I’ll spring for the tow/tool truck. Who wants to drive?)
So we noticed a nearby auto shop whose exhausted crew was just closing up, and looked crestfallen enough that the manager agreed to help us. He changed the tire himself, as his guys were busy moving all 27 of the cars waiting to be repaired into the shop so there would be a tiny chance they’d still be there this morning. I realized we really were in a colorful area as they somehow made room inside the shop for a 1983 Corolla with no fenders or bumpers. I’m not even sure it had an engine.
Turns out this third shredded tire was one of the new ones, for crying out loud.
Seriously, experienced Dallasites… Do you guys realize just how bad our roads are? I can name 47 other states where you can drive without having your car shaken apart as you drive. (I have to admit Alaska and Arkansas might be as bad.) I can’t even drive on Inwood Road anymore, after my car lurched into a massive, sharp-edged pothole the size of Denmark, necessitating an international rescue operation involving three Army Chinook helicopters and a bunch of those ratchety tie-down straps.
That flying through the air thing was kinda fun, though.
Our poor cars have experienced more indignity lately as well, this time courtesy of those damn grackles I may have mentioned before. Once or twice. OK, maybe 18 times, along with that recipe for grackle pie.
The big shiny-black monsters apparently are breakfasting every day at a nearby wilderness area, where they ingest massive quantities of white food. There must be a large field there covered in marshmallows, grits, cauliflower, navy beans, potatoes, crackers, powdered sugar, yogurt, cream cheese and crabmeat. Inside their bellies, these tasty treats mix with a stomach fluid which consists mainly of concrete and Super Glue. Then they fly back to our office, just in time to empty the remnants of this nourishment over our parking lot.
I usually park in the garage, but one day last week I had to head to an off-site meeting, so I parked in the front lot. BIG mistake. The head grackle noticed my transgression, then radioed all of the other grackles. They then coordinated a synchronized assault, dive-bombing my car in wave after wave of perfectly planned poopism. They must read my blog, and have taken my anti-grackle musings rather personally.
Heading off to my meeting, I wandered the parking lot for 15 minutes, looking for my dark-blue car, which no longer existed. When I stopped by Plaza Car Wash after work later that day, the guys laughed so hard that one of them actually exploded into a small pile of goo. They called all of the other guys out of the car wash line, to look and point and stare. “Ha ha ha ha! Grackle! Ha ha ha ha!”
They finally got it all off, using a power washer and an industrial-sized hacksaw.
So every time I lust over the breathtaking new Audi R8 at the dealership near our office, I think of the potholes and the super-pooper grackles and the folks who would steal a fender off of a 1983 Corolla.
And I decide that I won’t buy it, after all. And by the way, my decision has nothing to do with the $181,000 price tag. Really.