Sunday, October 17, 2004
weekend is bust
On Sunday, we eventually said our good-byes to our guests and Alexis did her usual "Please don't go!" fit. She hates it when people leave, you have to sneak away, under cover of darkness or she will become very upset about your abandonment. She will be checking the guest room for the next few days to see if they are still around before she gives up on them. Shortly thereafter, we put the kids down for their afternoon nap. More for our well being than theirs. I was going to rinse off some of the grime and sweat from chopping wood and the Mrs was going out shopping while they napped. The Wife and I were in the middle of gazing deeply into each others eyes when the phone rang. It was our former guests. I thought that they had forgotten something like the last time they were here (they left the keys to their condo behind). It was not that innocuous. They had missed the exit to the turnpike from Rt 1 and in the process of turning around, they had gotten a flat tire in a very dangerous place. The Wife is steadfast in not driving on Rt 1 because it is so hazardous so she implored them not to do anything. She would send me out with my AAA card and we would get someone else to come out and do it. The wife sends me out on a mission. A fools mission as it turns out. I thought that I could probably just get the can of fix-a-flat from my trunk and send them on their way. It was not to be so. I found them eventually on the southbound lanes of Rt 1 about 1.5 miles north of the turnpike. And it was the most dangerous place they could have found. Just on the other side of the hill in an area where the slow lane averages 65-70 mph. The sides of the road are littered with various car parts, shattered glass and remnants of previous vehicular misadventures. When I circled around and pulled over in front of them, I saw the extent of damage to the tire was beyond hope. It was shredded so badly that it had nearly come off the wheel. Further inspection revealed that all but one of the lug-nuts had been removed ... a locking nut. Now this was an after market locking nut and an exhaustive search of the car did not turn up the key that would allow us to remove it. Our hope rested on the inbound AAA fellow that he had the necessary tools to rectify the situation. We were disappointed when he took one look at it and shook his head. This was not like any locking nut he had ever seen and it did not match any of the keys he had. We would have to wait another 45 minutes for a flat bed tow to come and take the car to a local garage. Our frantic calls to the car's owner, my cousin-in-law, were to no avail. He maintained that the key was in the trunk ... or the glove compartment ... or 'you should have checked first'. Heh. The most frustrating angle of this whole episode is that this was the ONLY wheel with the locking nut on it. Murphy, you heartless bastard.
Once the Flat Bed arrived, we got everything all put together again and started off towards the Neshaminy Mall where Sears had an Automotive Shop that just might do the trick. I rode int he tow truck with the car while my in-laws drove my Super Saturn behind us. The trip to the mall was short and as I arrived, I got a call on my cell phone. It was the in-laws who were no-where to be seen. They could not get my car started. It looks like the time we spent with the emergency lights, head-lights and radio on had drained the battery to a point where there was not enough juice left to turn it over. ARGH! I have the portable battery booster in the trunk, but did not think that it would be a good idea to tell them to use it. I would have to call the wife and have her meet me at the garage so I could drive over to them on Rt 1 to start my car for them. Since the wife will not drive on Rt 1 (I can't blame her for that), I would have to wait for her to arrive at Sears AFTER she wake the twins up, lock down the Hounds and put the kids in the Family Tank. After I had gotten all that arranged, the Sears mechanic comes up to me to inform me that he can't take the lock off, he doesn't have the right key. I doubt this because it is a shop manager saying this and I know that they want to cut out early. They barely looked at the nut. Fortunately, the AAA driver is still there and I negotiate a deal that he would take me to the local Pep Boys shop that he know will do the work for us. This guy is getting a tip. Damn decent of him to give us a break. I guess my easy-going conversation with him on the way to the shop and my obviously grungy appearance gave him the idea that I was a hard-working blue collar type of guy who could use a break. The tow ended up costing an extra 6 dollars, chump change. I gave him 10 and called it even. I called the wife and gave her the new coordinates for the rendezvous point. She will drive on Street Road where this shop is located so she does not hesitate at all. I run into the store and wait in line to ask to get the tire changed. Explaining in great detail about the problem with the lock, they indicate that it is a rough job and they might not be able to do it. They will do their best, but if they can't get the lock off, they may have to snap off the bolt and replace the wheel with only 4 of the 5 bolts remaining. I didn't see a problem with this since I knew that the car is currently running with only 3 of the 5 lug-nuts on each wheel. It looks like last time the car had it's tires rotated, the person responsible never put the 2 original locking nuts for each wheel back in place. The Mrs arrives about 15-20 minutes later and we swap missions. She watches over the car while I go rescue the abandoned/stranded travelers. It takes about 15 minutes to get there and about 45 seconds to get the car started. I love my portable battery. Mike looks on with great interest indicating that he could probably have done that, I acknowledge that point but also know in the back of my mind, that his new wife would never forgive me if he had electrocuted himself. With Karen in the Family Tank with the kids and Mike in the Super Saturn, we head back to Pep Boys. When I arrive, they have just gotten the car into the garage. Since there is no reason for the Women and Children to be here, they go off to a Crap ... err, Craft Store and do some shopping while Mike and I watch the awfully lopsided Eagles-Panthers game on the grainy color television in the waiting room. I watch with disinterest as the clock ticks down ... Mike's Fantasy Football team had some link to the Green Bay Packers game which they lost. This is not his day. Every so often, I see the mechanic I talked to about the problem run back and forth with a pneumatic drill in his hand. I hear the tell-tale rat-a-tat-tat and grinding noise of each mis-match. I was sure that he was going to come back any moment with the bad news ... and then I look up to see the tire coming off the car. SUCCESS! It looks like Mike is not going to spend the night after all. They slap on the replacement tire and throw on a new lug nut to replace the one they had just taken off, destroying it in the process. Good. Damn thing is no good if the owner can't even take it off. In the end, the tire change cost 10.60$ with the additional 10$ that I did not tell them about. In gratitude for saving their butts, they volunteer to take us out to dinner. We meet up with the Ladies and Well Behaved Children and head off to a restaurant called 'Nifty Fifties'. Every time I drive by the place, I say to whoever is in the car, 'We should stop there sometime.' ... and then we never do. Finally, we are not heading anywhere else and we are very hungry. Its very clean and has a pretty limited menu. Hot dogs, burgers, fried everything and malted shakes. Works for me. I order a couple of boats of fries for the kids and two bacon wrapped hot dogs with cheese wiz. The buns are fried in butter. My heart nearly stops cold as I order it. There are crayons and paper for the kids and they are entirely too busy coloring to be a problem. They can't get enough of the malted shakes either. The evening is turning out pretty nicely. After we finish dinner, I escort our way-ward guest to the gates of the turnpike before cutting the cord. With a honk and a wave, we part ways and I head off to the Manor. As I pull in through the security gates and up the grand causeway, I notice that the Family Tank is not in the car-port yet. They should have been here for at least 15 minutes ... not good. I call the Mrs and find that she has stopped to refuel at the local Hess station ... Good enough, relief washes over me. Rule of 3 has been broken. Since I did not bring the security card and password generator to get into the Manor, I head out back to split wood until the Mrs gets back. I do a pretty good job on the smaller rounds and get enough split to build a couple of stacks. As soon as she dis-arms the anti-personal devices in the Manor, I head in and release the Hounds. We put the kids in the wing with all their toys and I head out to chop more wood. A couple more stacks and back inside I go to help put the kids in the bath and to bed. A quick communique with the parental units and the evening is done. It's a good thing that tomorrow is Monday, I don't think I could do another day off this weekend.