05 August 2008

White Flight Blues (or "Deflated Hopes")

...or, even, "That's 45 minutes of my time I ain't gettin' back!"
No! I've got it: "Remember how they dazzled Nettiemac with their sheer brilliance and breathtaking automotive competence?"


There are plenty of advantages of living in a place like Effingham County.
  • Better schools.
  • More bang for the housing buck than Chatham.
  • Lower crime rate (read: not like Savannah, where 9 out of 10 houses have little blue signs advertising whichever alarm system they use. -- "I HATE Safe Touuuuch!!!!!!!").
  • Lower property taxes (especially in Rincon, which assesses no city millage).
  • Quiet neighborhoods (you hear trains, not sirens).

  • In general, friendlier service at establishments.
But, to be fair, there are drawbacks:
  • There's only one way to get into and out of Effingham without resorting to extremely counterproductive and out-of-the-way routes: Highway 21.

  • Regular: $3.77/9 (price at Gate as of about 30 minutes ago). At least Sera and I are blessed in that our work schedules and locations are so staggered so as to allow us to take one car into Savannah on most days.

  • Restaurant options are still extremely limited. Rincon is the fastest-growing municipality in the state of Georgia ... 4,376 folk as of the 2000 census (and probably pushing 6-7k by now). But from a growth standpoint, business still thinks Rincon is a sleepy railroad settlement of 200 people along a bucolic, two-lane Georgia 21. But hey - we're getting a new Dairy Queen! Uptown we go!

  • And merchants haven't gotten the clue yet: Easily 2/3 of the residents of Rincon, and elsewhere in south Effingham County, commute into Chatham County to work.

  • Have you seen Highway 21 at 7:30 a.m., or at 6:00 p.m.? Granted, it's not commuter hell like Georgia 400 or (I'll pause while you get the defrib paddles) I-285. (check out my friend Steve's "salute" to the illustrious 400) But for Slow-vannah, it's our little version of Hotlanta.


  • And most of the car garages, including our favorite 'shadetree indies', close shop at 6. Now, it's not a real inconvenience in most cases when we drop off a car to get serviced. When they call me at work to say it's ready, I give 'em the credit card number over the phone, they run it through and lock the receipt in with the keys. We drop back by on our way back in and retrieve freshly-oil-n-lubed buggy with our other key. No problem.
Unfortunately, today I realized that early closing times present a big problem when one encounters a sight we did yesterday morning. The left rear tire of Rupert King Family SUV-ster, a/k/a our 2008 Ford Escape, was flatter than flitter. Seems I ran over something Sunday night while running errands.

I couldn't do anything about it last night due to our WW meeting, although I did swing by Pep Boys on the way to picking up the missus and bought a small air compressor. Figured we needed one - it sure beats the hell out of Fix-A-Flat. And is more conducive to making friends and influencing people among tire store employees.

Wellllll, this evening, faced with the only option of getting a flat fixed in Rincon, Georgia after Sidewalk-Rolling-Up-Time -- Wal-Mart -- I fired up this new toy and in less than 10 minutes, that tire was back to its usual 32 psi (this gadget even has a built-in pressure gauge).

And after I turned off the compressor, that tire was hissing worse than a Certron cassette full of teenybopper tunes recorded on a Yorx all-in-one stereo system.

In other words, this was a doozy. I could see the little shrapnel I'd run over, too. Phew!

I thought it prudent to haul my pimpled white assparts over to The Tiger Ridge Discount House Of Groceries, General Merchandise and All-Around White Trash Heaven, because 1) they stopped taking cars at 7:00 (it was now 6:45); and 2) I wanted to get there before that tire lost its mojo again.

I got there, and after waiting upwards of 10 minutes, the guy finally came out with his little blackberry-like device. The first thing out of his mouth was to ask for my home phone number.

Can you say "1-800-LIKE-HELL-I-WILL"?

After giving him 912/555-1212, he goes on to enter all my information into the device - name, address, zip, mother's maiden name, tax bracket, number of cockroaches in my sister-in-law's trailer - he tells me that it's going to be a 90 minute wait.

90 f(BLEEP)king minutes.

To plug a golldurned tire.

I mean, this isn't a mount/balance of new tires, an oil change, or rotation. Fixing a flat is something as easy as wheeling the jack outside, with the basic tools - pliers to remove the offending foreign object, and plug kit - within reach of an air hose. It's a simple procedure, requiring no longer than 15 minutes on the part of the service tech. I know, for I've had it done at least a dozen times at service stations over the years.

Service stations. You remember those, don't you? Back when a gas station had a mechanic on duty who could fix a flat ... instead of a guy named Patel who has all sorts of overpriced sodas and snacks inside a small kiosk.

Well, I grumbled and handed this guy the keys. It would be awhile before he could pull Rupert into the service bay. (Did I mention by the time he hemmed and hawwed with his hand-held steely dan computer-thingy, the tire was again close to flitter-flat?)

I called Seraphim to tell her that I'd be awhile, and as I was talking to her, I realized something: a couple of years back, when Nettie was down here visiting, she had a low tire. She took it by this very Wally World on her way out that Monday morning. And, if memory serves, they royally fooked things up for her.

Much as I could've used the 90 minute "actunity" (as our WW leader calls an 'activity opportunity'), and the 9 points therein, I was in no mood to walk around that place as I slowly developed loose teeth, heard banjos in my head and started having carnal urges for my first cousin.

Plus, my stomach was getting the rest of me into Tal-Hungry-Pissy mode. Waiting 'till 9:00 to eat supper was not an option.

I went into the service area to request my key back and to strike my name from the list. The woman working the counter scared me. She looked like she came from the depths of the worst trailer park in the central business district of Greater Tiger Ridge.

The cherry on the sundae: I saw the price board behind Miz Deliverance. Wal-Mart charges $9.95 to fix a tire.

I don't think so, Tim. The little garage in Eclectic, Ala. where we took Tiger's car when it had a staple in one of the tires, charged $5.00 per plug. And we were in and out of there in less than ten minutes. Sorry, but I'm not gonna spend a ten-spot for two hours' wait as they somehow manage to f(BLEEP)k up a simple tire repair.

I had the compressor in the vehicle, now regarded as one of the smartest investments of $34.95 I've ever made in my life, so I could put more air in there to get me back home. Let the sick tire deflate in the convenience of my driveway, and Thursday - when I'd be "teleworking" for the day - I can air it back up and drive it over to Randy & Rhonda's, where THEY would do the job, do it right, and without my having to wait for several weeks.

Oh well, it's my own fault. I know better than to trust my car to Wal-Mart.

And in spite of it all, I do like it out here in Effingham.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "...but 21 sucks!" Gleck


Georgia Road Geek said...

Thanks for the video plug and, as always, I enjoy reading your blogs.

IIRC, Texaco's jingle from the 1950s was something like "you can trust your car to the man who wears the star". Wal-Mart must use "you can trust your car to the man who wears the smiley-face". Seriously, sorry about your "Wally World" experience. :(

Talmadge Gleck said...

That jingle was used for a number of years - into the '70s, even.

"You can trust your car / To the man who wears the star / The big bright Texaco staaaaaar!"

Yeah, but it ain't 1974.

As for Wal-Mart, my own fault. I'm one of those who wants to get these things fixed two minutes ago, and I didn't want to wait 'till Thursday to take care of it. Guess I'll have to.

Lucky for me, the sensible side kicked in before they had a chance to get their grubby, 6-finger hands on it.

Kate/Susan said...

My favorite phone number to give people is 765-4321. It looks real and even if people think it's a scam, they will usually let it slide once they look at it. But I always say "Seven sixty-five, forty-three, twenty-one". This slides past pretty much everyone.

nettiemac said...

DOH!!!!! You nailed that one: the Greater Rincon Wal-Hell Tire and Lube Center (heh heh heh, she said Lube and "nailed" in the same sentence....) is not exactly the best place for a tire purchase or repair.

Sorry about that, my inner 12-year-old boy escaped -- although lube is probably appropriate, given the way they screw ya over.

The folks at my nearby Nice Wally (yes, Virginia, there is one out there .... and you can't have it!) were amazed that another Wally let something like that on the road -- the tire that is, not my car. They were happy to help. And shockingly, I do trust this particular WMT&LE for my oil changes too. And the occasional tire purchase (which speaking of, I do need a new one).

I hate you got hosed, buddy.....

Talmadge Gleck said...

Kate/Susan: Funny, but for one small problem - "765" is a valid prefix, meaning there's in all probability a 765-4321 in each and every area code. I revile telemarketers with a passion; so much so that I would never subject anyone else to 'em. How about putting the numbers in reverse? Your average Wally "disassociate" wouldn't figure out that there's no "123" prefix. 123-4567.

Nettie: Fortunately, the only way I got 'hosed' was in the 45 minutes of time I'll never get back. And Wal-Mart wouldn't know how to give a refund on THAT.