SwitchSwitch to white text on black.Switch to black text on white.
Draplin Design Co., North America


So get a call from Leigh this afternoon and she’s in stranded in a visitor center parking lot at Mount St. Helens. Big S the Passat Wagon blew a back tire.


So I get on the horn with the insurance people in the cool triangular building on Sandy. Or so I think. 15 minutes later, on hold, I realize that the advertisement playing over and over on the “on hold” recording is from AllState, not State Farm. Wrong insurance agency. Great.

I call my State farm people and they dig up a couple towing services in the greater Castle Rock, Washington area. Great.

First guy I talk to, after carefully explaining the situation, pauses for a long time and says in a gruff, ornery tone, “Don’t know if I want to do it. Was just about to go home.” Great.

I call the next place and they can’t change a spare, due to insurance problems. Great.

Third guy I call is from Longview, some 20 miles down the 5, and they agree to do it. “We’ve got a guy leaving right now, sir.” they say, and I breath a sigh of relief. Kinda great.

So then a half hour later, I get a call from Leigh and she says “We can’t find the bolt. The lug nut lock thing. Nowhere to be found. Nope.” Great.

It’s gone? Huh? Wha’? But, I made triple sure the guys who changed my last set of tires put the thing back. I swear i did. Great.

So I have her scour the rig, and I start backtracking. The last tires I had changed were at the Les Schwab out on Sandy and 120something, and… And I call them, and there’s no lug nut lock thing in their junk drawer and I’m one S.O.L. S.O.B. Great.

Big S’ tires need one of those 10 star lug nut lock thingies, and need it bad, or else. Thanks, Volkswagen. Great.

I start calling Volkswagen dealers. And each “parts expert” knows what I precisely talking about, but one dealership after another doesn’t have my part in stock, and the last guy says, “The computer says the closest one is 167 miles away in Seattle.” Nice to hear. Great.

So I try one last joint, up in Vancouver. “Yeah, we’ve got one here, but it isn’t for sale.” I plead with him, and promise him a long, long life and good health. He offers to let me use it, if I leave Gary for collateral, or a credit card. Great.

So it’s traffic time in Portland, and I jump in the van and start my way up Sandy (which takes fucking forever at 5:13 PM) and up to 205 North (which is jam-packed with turds heading back to Vancouver) and then across the Columbia River and into Washington (which is the home of singing acts like Mudhoney and Queensryche) and find the world’s last Volkswagen dealer, and the guy has the lug nut lock thingamajig waiting for me on the counter. Really great.

I jump on the 5 and hump it up to Kelso, find Big S in a Sears parking lot, get the jack, lay down on the cement, it starts to rain, I jack up the car and proceed to change the tire with surgical precision and NASCAR speed. The girls walk up, having just finished a festive meal from the Sears Auto Shop vending machine, and they are good to go. Great.

I drive the hour back to Portland and go right to the shop, to pick up where the fuck I left off. Great.

All this shit, all five hours of it, adds up to this: Whole day, shot to shit.


- - - -


01. “Fresh Air” on NPR, on the way up.
02. “Philosophy Talk” on NPR, on the way back to the city.

There Are 10 Comments

If you want something done right… gotta do it yourself.

Posted by: Kris henry on 03/04/10 at 7:47 AM

A tire exploding just before you drive into no mans land is WAY better than say- an exploding tire at 70 miles an hour….. or many miles up the mountain with no phone signal…..

Posted by: leigh McKolay on 03/04/10 at 10:49 AM

Get AAA ya cheap bastard. Saved my GF three times already in one year. One key lock out and two tows.

If they can’t change the tire they will tow you to someone that can.

Posted by: Nate MC on 03/04/10 at 12:19 PM

Next time…maybe contact one of your fellow VW owners (me)….someone that maybe lives in Wasington (me)…say on the I-5 corridor (me)…glad everything came out OK.

Posted by: Chuck on 03/04/10 at 12:51 PM

God Dammit Dale!

Posted by: Jess on 03/05/10 at 7:55 AM

please tell me you have TWO on order…one for glovebox and one for where it’s suppose to be…

Posted by: jimbo on 03/05/10 at 9:29 AM

Get on the 5 then it’s smooth sailing from there on down.

Posted by: Motivemd on 03/06/10 at 10:23 PM

You the man. Always going the extra mile or miles

Posted by: Porterfield on 03/09/10 at 11:46 PM

Wonderful story… You made it sound funny when I know it wasn’t… Mirrors a similar experience with AAA on a trip out west before I moved out west…

Posted by: Larry on 03/10/10 at 10:14 AM

Just had a similar experience.

My pre-owned Passat blew a back tire and I couldn’t change it out because the “lug nut lock thingie” (9-point torx socket, I think) in my spare kit didn’t fit the anti-theft lug. Great.

My nearest dealership is closed because it’s Sunday, and auto parts stores don’t sell the socket (with good reason). Great.

Oh, and the reason my tire blew? The dealership replaced all 4 tires a week ago and apparently left a box wrench inside one of them, which must have pierced it when I hit a bump. Extra great.

I feel your pain, brother.

Posted by: Chris on 03/14/10 at 2:20 PM
Post a Comment