So, this morning I fell victim to one of the more unsightly side effects of the Chicago winter. I hit a pothole.
Personally, I blame Matt Rodewald. He’s the traffic guy on NBC here in Chicago, and right after Andy Avalos told me I was going to freeze my butt off again today, Mr. Rodewald backed that up by telling me there was an accident on the Stevenson and that my commute into work was already screwed. Did I mention I already had a headache when I woke up, and that no amount of coffee was going to fix things?
So with the good news already in hand, and after I dropped Molly off at the secret “back of our neighborhood” entrance to her middle school, I headed off on my way, but not to the Stevenson. Matt already told me that was a bad idea, and the entrance ramp up from 53 was already jammed, so I continued south to make my way to one of my short cuts, an industrial road called Old Chicago Drive. The road was named for the debunked shopping mall/amusement park of the same name that had occupied that space back in the mid-seventies. It was a complex way before it’s time, and the park closed after only five years. It is now the sight of one of the most enormous auto auction locations, where most dealers in Northern Illinois come to buy their stock of used cars. Odds are, this is where my car came from.
As background information, let me tell you a little something about my car. I bought the car, a used 2003 Chevy Malibu, during the height of the battle that was my divorce. My little black pick-up truck, which I liked a whole lot, had up and died on me after only about 180,000 miles, which was very disappointing to me since my previous little black pick-up truck had actually eclipsed 250,000 miles before I had to get rid of it. And since I was short on cash and in a bit of a bind, I was sort of forced into buying this car, which I have hated since I drove it off the lot. As you can see, it is a lovely shade of road salt grey, so even in the summer it still looks dirty. I have chosen to show the car from this angle to accentuate the hole my oldest daughter Stephanie put in the bumper about a year after I got the car. I actually saved the missing plastic piece and plan to give it her as a wedding present some day. You will also notice the missing center cap from the plastic looking wheel rim. The car now has close to 145,000 miles on it, and is just less than $2,000 from being my very own. Maureen and I have had many conversations about just getting through the winter and then going out car shopping. Then I ran into Old Chicago Drive.
I spotted the gaping hole in the road just as I turned a curve, but it was too late. I hit it with quite a thud. Instantly, I knew something was wrong. The steering wheel started vibrating uncontrollably, and the car seemed to want to veer off to the left into warehouses on that side of the road. I knew it was not good, and I found a place to pull over and take a look. The tire was certainly now low on air, but it did not blow out. I could still drive it, and I knew there was a cheap tire place on the other side of town.
I pulled into Discount Tire and had time to call Maureen and my boss to let them know what had happened. The young sales person who looked fresh out of high school quickly learned that I was not in the mood for some razzle dazzle up-sale, and I told him that I needed someone to look at my front tire and fix it in the absolute least expensive way. Oh, there was an attempt to sell me a full set of tires for that monstrosity, but I am pretty sure the look on my face said it all. The kid quickly changed tactics and pulled my limping vehicle into a stall. The diagnosis? I bent the rim when I hit the pothole.
After much pushing of keys on his computer, the kid found the cheapest rim that would fit my car. After a very feeble explanation of how it wouldn’t match the rest of the wheels, I basically told the kid I didn’t give a crap, and he set off to put the new rim and my old tire back on the car.
At about 9:30 this morning, I departed Discount Tire with my new bitchin’ chrome wheel with locking lug nut, and headed back out onto the open road sans that rotten vibration in the steering wheel. The kid did a good job, and he even cut me a little slack on the installation. So what do you think?
I think he pimped my ride just fine.