Life in the Slow Lane

On November 9, 2010 by Eden M. Kennedy

About a year ago, one of my former-job coworkers happened to park next to me and noticed that the tread on my front right tire was so thin that the steel belt was coming through. This highly observant coworker spent her weekends wearing a helmet and driving a Lotus around a track in the desert, so I took her judgment about the state of my tread fairly seriously, and after work I drove (slowly) to the tire shop. The tire professional who looked at my tread actually gasped. Maybe he does that to everyone? It’s a sure way to sell some tires.

After he’d installed two new Michelin knock-offs for me, he took me aside and ran down some simple concepts about alignment and rotation and blahblahblahyouneednewtierods. “New what?” TIE RODS. “Tire rods?” Of course, tire rods, because what else would possibly keep your tires in place but tire rods? I filed one copy of his advice in the mental file drawer marked Things That Will Quietly Nag At You For The Next Year and another copy in the drawer marked Your Regular Mechanic Will Probably Do It Cheaper But You Won’t Bother To Ask Him Until The Car Starts Shimmying So Badly You Can Barely Grip The Wheel, and drove (speedily) away.

Naturally, about a year later the car started shimmying so badly I could barely keep a grip on the wheel, but only when I was going above 65 mph. Sure, go ahead and tell me that that 65 is the speed limit. Uh huh. And my reply to that is that the cops out here don’t even look up from their grilled cheese sandwiches unless you’re doing 80. And also, you need to get the fuck out of my way.

HOWEVER, because I was worried about the wheels just flying off my car, and unsure whether the centaurs I psychically imagined protecting each of my front tires were there to avert disaster or were merely waiting to transport me to the afterlife, I kept it at 65 until I could make an appointment with my mechanic. Which, because I am me and not someone who takes care of things in a timely manner, took about three months. Basically, I spent all summer driving in the slow lane and fearing for my life, and this taught me a few things.

  1. The earth will not throw up its hands in defeat and plummet into the sun if someone passes me;
  2. There are good reasons for driving in the slow lane! Such as (a) you have an open bowl of goldfish in the front seat; (b) someone in your car will throw up unless you keep fresh sea air blowing (but not blasting) through the car; (c) the bloody stump that you used to call your foot can only withstand the pressure against the gas pedal needed to go 65 and not a pound more or you will pass out from agony and crash;
  3. If I stop thinking about passing every moron ahead of me, I can focus on creating playlists on my iPod and texting (Ha ha! Kidding!);
  4. If I leave the house early, I don’t have to drive everywhere in a state of utter panic.

So, whatever, I went to my mechanic and he replaced ONE tie rod. (Not two! Suck it, tire shop!) (Actually, I can’t tell the tire shop to suck it because my mechanic sent me back there to get my tires rebalanced and they did it for free.) Afterward, shimmy-free, I felt so calm and liberated that it took me nearly a week before I remembered I had all those morons to pass or the sun would explode and vaporize us all.



15 Responses to “Life in the Slow Lane”

  • I actually once posted something on FB about having to get new “tire rods,” (because yes, that is not only WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE WHEN THEY SAY IT, but what MAKES SENSE), and was subjected to a sound round of online ridicule.

  • There are no valid reasons for the slow lane! I refuse to believe it!

  • Mechanics can be such d*cks. I once busted a tie rod and the mechanic was all “I’ll be able to tell if it busted because you hit the curb” (he was a friend of my step-dad’s, and I was 18 at the time). I enjoyed getting to tell him to suck it when he realized that that had not happened, thankyouverymuch.

    Glad you got your tie rod fixed and can pass people again! Don’t cut me off or my favorite finger will tell you a different story completely.

  • You couldn’t drive fast because your front wheels weren’t working?

    I guess you could say that your car is just two tired.

  • If I point out that your link to is broken because it’s pointing to in your paragraph at the top, do I get a free book? ;-)

  • This post is so funny, it actually made me laugh out loud (I think that’s essentially different from LOL…). But what’s really staying with me right now is grilled cheese sandwiches. (Too hungry for more incisive literary criticism right now, apparently.)

  • Oh my God, Brandon, I’m really going to come kill you this time. What’s your address?

    Also, Bluestem, THANK YOU for catching that.

  • I am a slow driver, a slow walker. All motion takes me longer than everyone else. I’m always the last to leave the yoga class. How does everyone else move so fast? When I am walking down the street people will pass me and I’ll realize about 10 minutes later they are about 5 blocks ahead.

    If I get any slower when I’m old, I will basically stop moving. But I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket.

  • I’ve never heard of tie rods, which won’t surprise you when you read the following.
    I kept hearing about this taking the car in to get the tires rotated and I could never figure it out. I mean, what do they do, put the car up on the jack and spin the tires? Does it feel good to have the tires spun without all that weight on it? Kind of a like a foot massage for cars? Aren’t tires always rotating?
    Seriously, I’m married to a mechanic, and I didn’t figure out this tire rotate thing for about three years.

  • On a random whim this morning, I decided to check in and see how your book (and you) was (were) coming along. My ears must have been burning a little, I suppose. ;) I’m very happy to see you’re doing so well. Congratulations on the upcoming book release!

  • I’ve got a car that shimmies when going over 65, too. Perhaps it is just those magical “tire rods”. Maybe replacing those will make the scary red light in the dash go away.

    This post was hilarious! Glad to know I’m not the only other serial car-problem-ignorer out there.

  • What do you feed your psychic centaurs to keep them so attentive? Mine keep making crop circles in the rug and dozing off.

  • My car care failures are the real reason parenting and home buying scare me. Like, I can’t be fussed to get my oil changed on time and I think the every-10,000-mile-check-up-or-you-will-DIE thing is a total rip off, but I’m considering life changes that add booster shots and school registrations and homeowners insurance and garbage disposals and driving lessons into the mix? GAH. Keeps me up nights.

    Welcome back to the fast lane!

  • This post was so funny to me that I’m still thinking about it days later! I try not to read your posts late at night or my laughing wakes up Hubby. Thanks for all the fun!

  • Should I know what a tie rod is?