Two months ago, I had the tie rods replaced on my car, followed by an alignment. Ever since then, it just hasn’t felt right.
For one thing, the ride has been really bumpy, kind of like driving over a cobblestone street. Finally, last week, after riding around feeling as if my tires were square and my lunch was about to make a return engagement, I pulled into the dealership where I’d bought the car.
“My wheels feel like they’re going to fall off my car,” I told the guy in the service department. “And the car vibrates so much, I practically have to take Dramamine when I drive it!”
“Well, take a seat in the waiting area,” he said, “and I’ll have someone road test it.”
I went into the waiting area, where a man, two women and a young girl were seated. We all sat there in silence for a few minutes until I, having never been a big fan of silence, decided to break the ice.
“I think my car has square tires,” I said.
As it turned out, the guy in the waiting area was a humor writer and singer from Massachusetts, so within a few minutes, he and I were joking about everything from the original bumper stickers he creates (example: “I’m on my way to my anger-management class, so get the &$#@ out of my way!”) to the fact that I’d heard that if you play Michael Jackson songs, they repel mosquitoes.
The guy was jokingly in the middle of singing a stirring rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” switching the lyrics to “Billie Jean is not my bug-girl,” with all of the appropriate moves, when the service technician entered the room and just stared wide-eyed at us.
“Um, whose car has the rough tires?” he finally asked.
I raised my hand.
“Well, the good news is your car is safe to drive and the wheels aren’t falling off,” he said. I was just about to do a happy dance when he added, “The bad news is you need four new tires and an alignment. The tread on the tires is badly worn off on all of the outer edges.”
“But I just had it aligned,” I said.
“Then you must have hit a really bad pot hole.”
I didn’t remember any pot holes – and I was pretty sure I’d have remembered one bad enough to destroy all of my tires. Unfortunately, the dealer was booked until the next week, and I, the queen of impatience, wanted the job done right away. So I headed over to Sears.
“Is it possible to get four new tires and an alignment today?” I asked the clerk. By then, it was 5:30.
“Sure,” he said. “We close at 7:00, but someone will stay and finish the job if it’s not done by then. And we’ll thoroughly check out the car first to make sure it actually needs tires and an alignment.”
I felt like hugging him.
He took down all of my information and then proceeded to give me a tire tour, where he showed me the various tread patterns on about eight different brands. They all looked about the same to me – rubber. I picked the Road Huggers, mainly because they were on sale – and their tread had a really pretty pattern.
He then gave me a $5 gift certificate, encouraged me to shop around the store, and asked for my cell phone number. He said he’d call me if he had any questions – or if no questions, he’d call when my car was ready.
He didn’t have to tell me twice to go shopping – I was off and running.
The trouble with my cell phone is that I use it maybe once a month because I work out of my house and don’t really need it. I took it out of my purse to check it and it said, “no signal.” So I stepped outside to see if I could get a signal out there. I did everything but climb the flagpole before I finally got one. The minute I did, the phone rang.
“This is the automotive department,” the voice said. “You took your car keys with you.”
So back to the department I went.
I then spent over an hour roaming throughout the mall and shopping. I bought “must have” items like lemon-scented body spray, a Red Sox T-shirt, a couple packs of The Walking Dead trading cards, vacuum-cleaner bags, a pair of earrings and a Johnny Depp as Tonto action figure. I was just about to buy a CD of the greatest disco hits from the 1970s, when I looked at my watch. It was 6:45. I remembered the clerk telling me the automotive department closed at 7:00, so I raced back over there. To my relief, my car was ready.
“We left you a voice mail when we finished,” the clerk told me.
“Yeah, well, I forgot to step outside again, climb a tree and face east,” I told him. The poor guy had no clue what I was talking about.
“So, did my car need four new tires and an alignment?” I asked.
“It sure did!” the mechanic, who was standing next to the clerk, said. “I don’t know how you drove a straight line with it, it was so bad.”
That might explain why my car recently seemed to develop a strong attraction to trees on the right side of the road.
So now I don’t feel as if I’m riding around on a washboard any more. But I’ll probably have to live on peanut-butter sandwiches until Halloween to pay for the tires.
On the bright side, they are under warranty for 100,000 miles. The way I figure it, by the time I drive that many miles, I’ll be 127 year old.
So I think I should be safe for a while.