Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sucker Fishing- The trip north

I left around 9:00 p.m. Tuesday night, after finishing the last batch of venison jerky, packing 3 times too much gear, and kissing my wife and kids goodbye. I was off for three, maybe five, days of non-stop fun. It was a welcome respite after the day I'd had. Dave and I rushed through a topographic survey on the Maple River, in spite of a bitchy German Shepherd that would lay around for ten minutes then bolt at me and grab my pant leg, survey rod, or the loose glove I was carrying just to give the bitch something to sink its teeth into besides my flesh. Dave and Mike, the owner of the campground we were surveying, had a good laugh every time she rushed me with that deep gutteral growl that raised the hackles from the crack of my butt to my forehead. I know she could smell the fear all over me. I'm not afraid of many dogs but I'm not the dog whisperer either. The beer I drank with Mike, Dave and the two other old river men in Mike's shop redeemed the whole trip. That first beer was great and I wanted to have another but I had to get my stuff together for the trip. I bid them thank you and good bye and hustled out ahead of Dave so he would be between the bitch and I.

Leslie made a great dinner with this pasta, cheese, and sausage dish and sent the rest with me in a container. She helped me pack and questioned me insufferably until I walked out the door. We were staying in a really new camper, close to civilization. It's not like we were not going to survive if I didn't take an extra container of floss.

So I'm on the road at 9:20 and the suburban starts feeling a little loosy-goosy in the back end and then the noise, flump, flump, flump as the rear passenger tire flip-flapped to its completely flattened state. I look all over, through everything, no flashlight. I jumped out and aimed my flip-phone at the tire and sure enough, it's flat but the phone is not enough light to even change it by. I checked the spare. It is inside, on the driver's side, beneath a pile of junk and covered by a gray carpet tire cover with a zipper.
The tab to the zipper was lacking so I had to rip the cloth from the zipper enough to free the spare from its cover. Good news, the white letters on the tire are still covered in blue indicating a brand-new tire! Bad news, it too is flat. How can the brand-new spare be flat?!

I didn't want to but I called home. My wife was out walking with a friend. I called her cell phone. She ended her walk and walked home. She called me back and gave me the road service number to call. I called the 888 number and it put me on automatic hold, for what seemed like an hour but was realistically more like 5 minutes. A young man answered and asked me what I was calling for. I told him I needed roadside assistance and he said "one moment, I'll transfer you to roadside assistance". Now why a roadside assistance number has to be transferred is still a big question for me but he did and I sat for another five minutes listening to elevator music. A voice broke the jazzy beat of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer". "The number you are attempting to reach has been disconnected and is no longer in service. Please check the....", the recording stopped as I flipped my phone closed and sat with my forehead on the wheel whispering, "crap...crap...crap..crap" to the rythm of the green blinking triangles on the dashboard display.

I dialed the 888 number again and only listened to the hold message once before being connected to a very nice young lady. I told her that I'd already called and was transferred to an unlisted number so I hoped very much that she could help me. She did. I stayed on hold while road service was called and she smiled through the phone as she came back on an announced that help was on its way and should arrive in 15 minutes or less. Thirty minutes later a little car with a beacon on the top did a u-turn after passing me and swung in behind me. He aired up the spare and changed the tires. I pulled in to my destination, usually an hour and 15 minute drive, at 11:00 p.m.