My greatest fault and probably only fault as a human being rests in my inability to comprehend cars. I am completely ignorant when it comes to vehicles and honestly, I have no desire to learn anything about them. My knowledge ends right after it has an engine and four wheels. The latter part played a critical role in my weekend and in my wallet.
Saturday afternoon, upon returning from that frigid day at work I was whining about with colorful graphics, Becky and I decided to do a little errand running. These wimpy sub zero temperatures were not going to prevent us from our normal course of events! After leaving a local business, I drove my car onto Interstate 35 and peered over my left shoulder to merge into traffic. At this exact moment, one of those ice balls that gather behind your tire in winter weather fell off of a separate automobile and into my path. With no time to react, I smashed it with my front left tire. On lucky days, this ice chunk would be nothing more than slush that would slide away without another passing thought. However, being that Minneapolis was just a touch above Absolute Zero, this particular ice chunk was immovable. Instantly the car began to pull, and I forced the car onto the shoulder with a flat tire.
After a brief expletive break, I decided to get out and look. The tire was not seeping out air slowly. No, this bad boy was gone. I could not change a tire in a domed stadium, and I sure wasn't going to get adventerous with wind chills in the quadruple digits below zero. I quickly hopped back in the car, half frozen from the 30 second viewing and had Becky dial AAA. She explains not once, not twice, but thrice where we are (a major interstate that splits St. Paul and Minneapolis) to the ignorant woman on the other end who is more interested in laughing with her coworkers than offering any real assistance. At the conclusion of this call, the operator says, "We'll have someone there within two hours."
Two hours? Are you serious? This is major metropolitan city! We are on the Interstate, not some desolate road! And it's the coldest day in the history of Minnestoa!
Ok, fine whatever. We have gas, and we have all the time in the world. Merely an inconvienice.
30 minutes into the ordeal, I'm getting kind of comfortable. I have my big winter coat on with some music playing, and remember I was up at 4:30am to unload a Walgreens truck. I start to doze off. Becky, ever vigiliant, keeps watch for the towtruck and/or horrible people who would take advantage of a stalled car. I think Bill Cosby had a kid who was murdered when he broke down on the side of the road, and I with no thought whatsoever mentioned this while we were waiting. All of a sudden, a car pulls over. I jolt up not sure if this is a dream, the towtruck, or my life ending.
A man in a suburban pulls along side and asks if we are ok. I assure him that we are and the kind, concerned citizen continues on. Whew.
50 minutes into the ordeal, a state trooper pulls behind us. I figure that he's not thrilled that a car is on the side of his highway, but I want to be there even less than he does. Probably should get the license and registration ready. The cruiser does that squak thing that it does and I look in my rear view mirror. The officer is motioning for me to come to his car. Are you serious? It's -10 below outside, I'm stranded, and I'm miserable, and he wants me to come to him. Fine, whatever.
I bundle up with the hat and the gloves and whatever else I have to cover myself and go to his cruiser. He rolls down the window not bothering to let me in out of the cold. He is, though, very nice and checks to see that we have help on the way (presumably), gas, and cell phones. Convinced that we are no threat to him, his highway, or ourselves, he carries on.
65 minutes into the pulling over, KS 95 decides to play Nickelback's "Savin' Me." I thought it an approrpriate time for the towtruck to come and save us. Becky hates Nickelback's over exposure and says that if it has not arrived by the end of the song she is calling AAA again. The moment for a tremendous bit of coincidence passes, and we are still stranded.
Becky decides that instead of calling AAA, she is going to call the towtruck company directly. She gets through to the dispatcher who proceeds to tell us that our call has been scratched off as having been completed. I'm confident that my wife could have killed a man with her bare hands at this point. Instead, she as calmly as possible at this point reassures the dispatcher that we are in fact still on the side of the road on this the coldest day in the history of mankind.
Ends up that there was ANOTHER Saturn broken down less than a mile from us that the truck stopped to help thinking that it was us. The kicker here is that the truck would have had to have passed us after helping said Saturn as there were no other exits, but be that as it may, the truck was turning around to come and save us.
So the towtruck guy arrives about an hour and fifteen into this saga, and the first thing he asks for is my Triple A card. Ok, so now we are going to follow protocol after he clearly helped some guy pretending to be Andrew Wolf an hour ago? Fine whatever, here's my card and my license and my signature, just change the tire.
I'm not sure if I'm happy he had it changed in about 30 seconds or embarassed. Probably more happy at that point and embarassed after the fact. With that, we were on our way.
Fast forward two days to Monday morning when my local Goodyear tire shop opens. I like these guys. They are really nice about taking my money, and I think that counts for something. Every time I go in for an oil change they tell me about all these problems with my car that need fixing and instead of a small bill, I end up with a big one. I have a big asterisk next to my name as "the guy who doesn't know a damn thing so sell him on everything." But, like I said, they are very nice and if you are going to steal my money at least be polite about it.
As such, Goodyear had to be licking their chops when I came in with a legitimate problem. I also came in with a counterattack gameplan. I was going to shock them with asking for not one, but four new tires. I figure if I'm being proactive and getting my first new set of tires in 60,000 miles I'll look like I know what's going on.
I mosey on over to the guy and tell him of my incident this past weekend and that I think that it was an omen that I needed to replace all of my tires. Concealing his overstimulated commision exhuberance, he calmly asks which of two types of tires I would like. Knowing absolutely nothing about these tires, I ask hard hitting questions about them with the end result being there is no difference except the second pair are going to cost a helluva lot more. Now I'm feeling pretty good about myself as I have stopped them in their tracks. I politely ask for the less expensive, yet equally black pair of tires.
I head over to the waiting room where I kick up my feet with a job well done. It's 7am in the morning, I'm the only one in the place, and I'm going to be on my way unscathed!
30 minutes later.
Why is everyone calling me by my complete first name in this story?
"Um, your rim is completely damaged and is going to need replacing. Not to worry, I've ordered a new one for you and it's on the way."
This rim took 90 more minutes in making its way from the other local Goodyear who now no doubt has me on file should I try and run to them. I'm also pretty sure that I paid for its transport, labor, the rim itself, and donuts for the guy delivering. It jacked the price of this whole operation up about 25%. The bastards got me again.
There is no moral to this story except some stock market advice should your feel like you need to invest or sell off some of your stock in the two companies discussed. Pity me.