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The $115.25 Car Wash

February 17, 2003

I really don’t know where to start telling the story of my weekend, so I’ll jump right to the end: my decision to get the truck washed Saturday morning cost $115.25, and that doesn’t include the value of my and Mr. Karen’s time. Or the J.B. Weld, for that matter. It seemed like a simple thing; I was going to pick up Erica for a mystery quilt day and I thought it would be nice to be able to load and unload our sewing machines and supplies without having to worry about getting road salt on our clothes. I briefly considered going to the do it yourself car wash and just quickly rinsing off the worst of the dirt, but since it was only about 10 degrees (F) and I didn’t really want to risk getting wet and messy before the quilting party, I decided to go to the automated attended one next door. I was a little concerned that the antenna ball would get ripped off, so I kept an eye on it (what exactly I thought I’d do if it came off is not clear to me now– leap out and battle my way through the sudsy brushes to rescue it?) and was relieved to see it holding firm. It wasn’t until I pulled out of the dryer end of the car wash that I noticed the right side mirror dangling at an unnatural angle. Damn it! If I’d remembered that mirror had been knocked off and glued back on, I probably wouldn’t have risked the car wash, but it had been broken so long ago and Mr. Karen’s repair was so robust that I hadn’t thought about it in months. I was obviously not thinking clearly at this point, because I tried balancing the mirror back in place– sure, that was going to work, especially once I hit the highway. I pondering going back home to get some duct tape and try reattaching it that way, but decided that would make me late and probably wouldn’t work anyway. Besides, there was no point in getting Mr. Karen’s day off to a bad start, too. I’d just go get Erica and she could keep an eye out on that side of the truck for me.

We got to our destination without any more parts of the truck breaking off, so things were looking up. This was to be my first experience doing a mystery quilt. The two hostesses picked a design and cut all the fabric and would reveal the sewing directions step by step, so we wouldn’t know what we were making until very late in the day. I’d never done this before because it really didn’t sound like something I’d enjoy. My favorite parts of quilting are picking the fabrics and working out the design, and I wouldn’t get to do either of those things with a mystery quilt. Still, it made sense to try it at least once, since it might turn out to be different than I expected. Skiing sure was; why not mystery quilting? As it turned out, it was so much fun that Erica and I are thinking of hosting our own event. We’ll do a smaller project– not one person there left with a finished quilt top– so we’ll have more time for eating and talking and sharing sewing tips. It’s not really about the quilting; it’s a about the camaraderie.

We called it a day around 8 or 9, and I took Erica home. When we’d gotten to the party, I’d noticed one of the truck tires looked a little low. Nothing major, just something I made a mental note to check when I stopped for gas on the way home. When we got to Erica’s, the tire looked even lower. That wasn’t a good sign. Fifty cents worth of air at the gas station pumped it up to a normal level, but by the time I got home, it was low again, and I could hear it hissing. Damn again. So instead of being able to go inside and relax before bed, I got to layer up and help Mr. Karen put the spare on in the cold and dark. At least now I have experience with using the super secret spare tire key. Too bad I hadn’t paid for the deluxe wash with underbody spray; the dirty spare really detracted from the shiny clean truck look. When we got the leaking tire inside and got a good look at it, it was clear the problem was in the sidewall. We can’t be sure that the car wash caused the rip, but it was on the side that went into the track. Mr. Karen took it in to the tire store today, but as we expected, they can’t fix it like they do when I run over a nail. Cost of a replacement? $109. Ouch. And all because I didn’t want to get salt on my coat. I guess the moral of this story is: it’s a truck; it’s supposed to be dirty.

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