Monday, June 17, 2019

Nurse the Hate: Trouble with the Whiskey Wagon

The band played a show on Tuesday.  It was mostly uneventful, and Leo and I drove the Whiskey Wagon back to where it sleeps in a storage facility making our usual shit talk.  It was very by-the-book.  Totally normal.  Good night Whiskey Wagon.  See you this weekend.  I even took the trash out of the van.  You must take care of the Whiskey Wagon, so it will take care of you.

On Saturday we were scheduled to play in Erie.  Whenever we play a show, it’s a bit of a Chinese Fire Drill as we figure out where to rendezvous, so we can drive together in the van.  Text messages fly around, and a plan comes together.  This Saturday, I went by myself to the van with the game plan to meet Leo on the westside and then get Sugar and Pete out East.  The rain fell steadily.  I hustled through puddles to the van’s driver’s side door.  The weather was miserable.  I loaded gear into the van from my car.  I felt like something was off.  Yet, everything appeared normal.

I cannot explain why a foreboding thought flashed in my mind as I climbed in the driver’s seat.  The rain pattered on the metal roof.  “Something is going to be fucked up…”  The van had been running perfectly.  All service was up to date.  Hell, even the mileage isn’t that heavy.  The Chevy van always roars to life, even in the coldest temperatures.  I shook off the bad vibes and turned the key.  Disaster.

There was a bang.  It sounded like the engine exploded.  All the lights flashed on the dash like a Christmas tree.  The engine was LOUD but running.  What the fuck?  It sounded like the entire exhaust system had fallen off.  There was no way I could drive this to pick everyone up and make it to Erie.  I tried a small drive around the lot to see what happened.  It sounded like a WW2 era B-17 taking off.  The power felt low.  God fucking dammit, I knew it!  There was no way this was going to work.  What were we going to do now?

I started shoving what I could in the back of my car.  This was not going to work.  It is not possible to fit a bass drum into a standard sized vehicle.  I tried to get in touch with Sugar and Pete.  Voice mail.  Fuck.  I took the bare minimum of what we needed and headed into the rain.  Maybe we could borrow gear from the Kookie Kutterz.  I’m sure Leo could play Pete’s kit.  I ran through scenarios and phone calls went back and forth.  We worked out a plan with the confidence of “yeah…  I guess that could work” when we accepted the reality of the situation.  My car was full.  Leo drove separately.  I stopped at a CVS pharmacy to buy two things I needed.  Pain killers and a large can of Budweiser.  I met Pete and Sugar at the rendezvous point and we crammed in all the stuff from my car into Pete’s groovy 80s van.  I bought another Bud.

The gig went well in Erie all things considered.  I thought we played well with the pieced together set up.  Hector and Chanda gave me a lift back in their car after the gig.  I climbed back into my car for the drive back to the Westside in a downpour I would call “monsoon-like”.  It was 335 am.  I was not exactly “crisp” or “refreshed”.  I kept going over in my mind what had gone wrong with the van.  Had the outdoor storage situation finally led to a rust out of the exhaust?  This was so typical.  Just when things get going in the right direction, it all goes wrong.  I knew Monday would be a full day of automotive nonsense.

I made a few calls and dropped the van off to a mechanic I’ve used before.  I roared down back roads.  It felt like the end of Jaws when Quint refuses to back off the smoking engines and dooms the boat to be battered by the giant shark.  The van strained to get to the repair shop.  All heads in the shop turned when I limped in to the lot.  The mechanic told me he would call with an estimate later.  He called in about 90 minutes.

“Are you sitting down?”  This is not usually a sentence you want to be spoken to you by either mechanics or physicians.  If this was a doctor, he would have taken off his glasses and said, “In all my years of practice, giving news like this has never gotten any easier…”.  Then he tells you that you have Stage 4 Lung Cancer.  I was expecting the mechanic version of this to hit me next.  I braced myself. 

“I got it up on the lift after I heard how loud it was.  Soooo….  someone sawed off your catalytic converters, cut through the oxygen sensors, and took (some other part I can’t remember).  I mean, it must have taken them at least 10 minutes and it would have been really loud.  I don’t know how no one noticed.  So, I called for the part and… this is bad…you can only get it from the dealer.  And it’s not something they keep in stock, so it will be until at least tomorrow.  We’re talking about $2000 or so…”


I called the storage place.  The guy in the office was surprisingly relaxed.  “Yeah… We had a break in last week.  That was probably part of that.”  Hey, the mechanic said that it would have taken about 10 minutes and was loud as shit.  You live there on site, don’t you?  “Yeah but I didn’t hear anything.  What day was that?  Hmmm.  Wednesday?  Yeah.  I didn’t hear nuthin.”  So, is your insurance going to cover this?  “Oh, yeah I’m really sorry but no.  It’s in our rental agreement that we don’t cover that.”

Now, one would think that a completely fenced in facility with a coded gate entry would take a slice of responsibility.  Nope.  It’s like when someone puts a sign on the side of a parking lot that says “no responsibility” as if that action alone voids out all common sense.  “If only there was something we could do.  However, we put that sign up, so I’m afraid I just can’t help.  Oh, and can you give me your monthly parking money?” 

I called the storage company home office.  The manager there was also oddly detached from the event.  “Yeah, I think they might have cut a hole in the fence to get in back.  They broke into a few trailers too.  Yeah…  We just don’t offer insurance for an open public parking space.”  What do you mean?  It’s not a public parking place.  I have to enter a code to get in the gate.  “Yes, but the car is still in the open, so we just can’t do it.”  She even sounded like she cared.  It was that version of “I’m more upset about this than you are” that I really appreciate when it’s done well.  It was a pointless conversation. 

I filed a police report.  This being the suburbs, they actually have a suspect.  Shit, there must be security footage.  It’s not going to help me with my insurance company though.  I’m on the hook for the $500 deductible at least.  I need to get in with the cops and get in the room with the suspect.  Maybe I can help them “work him over” in that interrogation room.  That would give me some satisfaction as I “got medieval on his ass with a pair of pliers and a blow torch.”  They might not do that at police stations in the Burbs, but I do plan on asking in a tactful way.  As for now, we are waiting on dealer parts and I assume the thief (or thieves) have spent the $80 they got for our $2000 in parts on something nice for Father’s Day.  Like Oxy. 

Thieves 1
Daredevils 0             


At June 17, 2019 at 5:50:00 PM EDT , Blogger devilbilly said...

i know your mechanic is not lying about the parts, maybe you could check a local pick and pull, they might have them for way less

At June 17, 2019 at 7:14:00 PM EDT , Blogger dan said...

Try a local scrap dealer you can probably buy it back off them for $250


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