local color

April 10, 2007

We’re having technical difficulties, here at Casa Dos Quesos. In the last month, we’ve had a string of electronic deaths or disabilities:

First, the TIVO, died. Followed by a computer monitor. The next day the laptop crapped out, along with all three phone lines. We got the phones working in time to find out that the newer of our two cars needed to be replaced.

While my husband was enjoying the first week of new car, I had some problems with the van.

Now first, you must picture the standard level of chaos at the house:

It is spring break for the boys. And the Destination Imagination State contest is a week away. So we are having a free floating crap shoot of scientific and theatrical experimentation, involving playing cards, painted bed sheets, foam insulation, PVC pipe and assorted teenage boys. At any given time, we are out of something, IMPORTANT and need to travel to town IMMEDIATELY.

Monday, we drove to the home improvement store. Tuesday, we were going to the Fleet Farm.

(For those of you who live in Wisconsin, Fleet Farm is find of the same as Farm and Fleet. For those of you who don’t live in Wisconsin, this didn’t note help much, did it?)

Fleet Farm is, in theory, a farm supply store. But it sells, pretty much everything a person needs to live. Home Improvement supplies, jelly beans, blue jeans, paperbacks, and pool tables.

Farm and Fleet is the same, only different. The two stores are the result of a family feud. Two brothers, without a tremendous amount of imagination between them, split the family business into separate stores with almost identical names and stock. On my last trip to Farm and Fleet, I got Easter Candy and cat food. Conveniently located next to the cat food were the Peeps.

Real Peeps. The baby chicks were in the catfood aisle.
I didn’t buy any. The cats are very disappointed, since they feel that live chickens are a guaranteed healthy alternative to catfood, except for the slight risk of salmonella.

But anyway, I tried to take two of the boys on a Fleet Farm run. We made it as far as the end of the yard, before noticing that the car handled bad and sounded worse.

Flat tire.

OK. I got the air compressor out from under the seat, and pumped the tire up enough to go back to the house. The nearest turnaround was our own driveway, 100 yards away. So I backed up.

My son insisted on providing the music for this adventure. He has the sound track to the new Simon Pegg movie, “Hot Fuzz.” It is full of 80’s British pop and has a delightfully phony cop show theme, which was playing as I threw the car into reverse.

If Starsky and Hutch had to call the auto club? It would have sounded a lot like us.

I was not worried, because we have AAA. A simple phone call, and someone would come to put on the spare. I could then drive to Fleet Farm (where the cheap foam insulation for DI was) and fix my tire (because they have a car repair department).

The AAA man arrived. I think he was from
Grumpy-Oldman Towing and Wrecking.

If I’d seen this man in the road with a flat, I’d have told my son that he and his lazy friends were young and healthy and should help that poor old man change his tire.

But I pay for AAA. Change the tire, Mr. Oldman.

G. Oldman walked around my car, kicked the tire and said, “You can probably drive on this.”

I explained that it was because I’d pumped the thing up to drive home and wanted the spare instead. I went back in the house.

A few minutes later, Mr. Grumpy-Oldman came to the door. Did I have a two by four?


Generally, people use jacks.

The spare was rusted on. He would need something to pry it loose. This happened a lot. The only thing I could find was a shovel handle. He jumped up and down on the shovel a few times and declared it hopeless.

And then he asked me if there was somewhere we could go, together, to get the spare taken off. He would then change the tire for me.

Well, the nearest place is:

Farm and Fleet. But it’s seven miles away. (And has live chicks but not insulation).

“We’ll have to go there, then.”

On a flat tire?

“I’ll change it when we get the spare off.”

“But if I’m at Fleet Farm (which has an auto dept, along with the live chicks, but still no foam) They can fix the tire. I don’t need you, anymore (please go away).

“I’ll follow you, in case you have trouble.”

I’m having trouble RIGHT NOW. With the AAA man. You’re not helping.

And that is how I spent the afternoon in the auto department at Farm and Fleet, reading AARP Magazine and the Cabella’s Catalog, waiting for a tire patch, instead of buying foam at Fleet Farm.

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