On the way home I was coasting down a steep hill and I eased down on the brake pedal as I neared a busy intersection. There was a sudden rubbing sound emanating from the brakes. It became louder when I applied more pressure. I had the sensation that the brake pedal was pushing back, resisting the pressure of my foot. I came to a stop, but not without a loud thumping noise and a jerky hopping bounce of my truck.
"Oh give me a #*%&ing break, not my #*%&ing brakes!" I yelled.
With every stop at every stop sign and at every traffic light the loud protests from my wheels heralded my approach. Every jaywalker and every marathoner wannabe wearing headphones and oblivious to oncoming traffic glared at me. At first I thought that one man on a bicycle was hitchhiking a helicopter, but then I realized he was rating my driving skills. I returned the gesture by giving him the same grade for his bike riding abilities. He showed his gratitude by swearing at me! Perhaps he felt my scoring was too low? So I used both hands and awarded him two points!
My trip home was further impeded by the usual suspects. One jerk decided to back out of a hidden driveway into the oncoming traffic. Then there was the trucker who realized in the nick of time that his cargo box was too high to pass beneath an overpass. A cabbie completed a 3-point u-turn in just seven in view of a sign that read: "NO U-TURNS."
Finally, there was the woman in an Escalade trying to parallel park in a spot that had just been vacated by a stretch limousine. Do you suppose she would've heeded my advice had I yelled to her, "Put down the #*%&ing cell phone and then back in the spot!"?
I made it safely home in about thirty minutes, considerably longer than my usual ten or fifteen minute commute. It was agonizing to have to drive at or under the speed limit. My wife heard the noise as I thumped to a stop in the driveway. Being very observant she said, "Something's wrong with your brakes!" (Sometimes certain facial expressions speak louder than words.)
It was four PM and I figured my mechanic was still working. So I called him up. One of his workers asked if I could get my truck there before five so he could start working on it the first thing Friday morning. After I hung up the phone, I grabbed my keys and headed for the door. I called out to my wife and announced my plans.
She called back from her game of Spades on the computer, "That truck needs to go the garage. You shouldn't be driving it like that!" I always say that a lot of marriages don't last because the couples don't talk to one another. My wife and I make it a point to communicate . I called out again, "I'll call you when I get there so you can come pick me up." She responded, "Doesn't he close at five? You'd better get going."
I was about to back out of my driveway when my cell phone rang. It was from my home phone number. "Hello?" I said. My wife's voice on the other end asked, "How are you getting home?" (Sometimes a moment of silence speaks louder than actual words.) I replied, "You're going to pick me up, aren't you?" (She likes to use moments of silence too.) She answered, "Why didn't you say so in the first place?"
On my way to the garage I thought to myself that maybe I should consider finding a mechanic in the same county. En route I had to stay alert to avoid some of those aforementioned usual suspects. I remembered too late a speed bump in the street at a school crossing point and was momentarily airborne. My foot pressing hard on the brake I landed with a thump and there was that loud sound inside my front wheels.
It should be noted that speed bumps usually come in pairs. There was no exception to that fact, especially in a school zone. At least two of my tires remained on the ground as I bumped over and thumped to the other side of the second mound of concrete.
I heard a voice shouting something that sounded like asshole. I looked in my rear view mirror and to my surprise there was my buddy on the bicycle. Neither one of us offered the other any points this time. I eased up on the accelerator the rest of the way. There had been no cars in front of me or behind me, so I had been rushing a bit to get to the garage by five.
When I pulled up next to the office at my mechanic's garage, the worker who'd answered the phone said, "You need a brake job." (I made a facial expression that practically screamed, 'No shit, Sherlock!') He took a look behind the front driver's side wheel and informed me that I had a broken stabilizer bar. I said in disgust, "It's no wonder with all the potholes. Damned good for nothing Highway Department." Of course, I thought, hitting a speed bump at 45 mph could snap a stabilizer bar too.
My cell phone rang. It was my wife. "Are you waiting for me to pick you up?" she asked. "Yeah," I said, "didn't we establish that at the house before I left?" (Sometimes silence suggests bad news.) Knowing that there was an impending caveat to our arrangements I waited for her reply, "I forgot. Gretchen's car is in the shop until tomorrow. She asked if they could use my car tonight. I said she could."
"No problem," I said. "They can swing by and pick me up. (Silence.) I added, "Can't they?" I should've known I wasn't going to like the answer she gave, "Too late. They left already." I had a cell phone in my hand so I said, "No problem again. I'll call her on her cell phone." (There was silence again.) "She forgot her cell phone. She left it at her house," my wife announced.
I handed the guy the ignition keys to my truck and told him I'd check in with them in the morning. I set out walking to the nearby bus stop. It was going to an even longer day, I thought. I would have to take a bus to the train station, take the train to another stop to catch another bus. Then it would be shank's mare for about a mile from that bus stop to my house.
It's been a long time (16 years) since I had to use public transportation. It didn't take long for me to remember that I didn't miss it at all. On the buses and especially on the train, there were plenty of straggling commuters still making their way to their homes. If one doesn't have a book or a newspaper to read while commuting, one can always amuse oneself with some people watching.
For the first three of six train stops my people watching was restricted to watching a single person. The pretty young thing was probably about the same age as my daughter.
(I had the old Esquire Magazine cartoon at the left in my files and it pretty much mirrored my train ride.)
Because she was sitting directly across from me, it was rather difficult to keep her out of my line of vision. She was displaying ample cleavage and even looking at her face kept that area noticeable. Diverting my eyes downward, I was thus afforded a view of exposed skin beneath her crossed legs. That view was further enhanced by the fact she was wearing dark nylon stockings.
It's been a long time since I've tested the waters of the social scenes, but I had to wonder when nylon hose became vogue again with young women. My experience was always dealing with those #*%&ing pantyhose!
For the final three stops a large man stood in front of me, effectively blocking the "scenery." (Unlike the man in the cartoon, I did not ask him to move.) At least I was saved from being caught by the girl as I was sizing her up and down, although I suspect she was well aware of my "subtle" goggling. In this modern "PC" world it would be difficult to know whether she liked flaunting it as much as I enjoyed looking.
I finally arrived home at 7:30, exhausted. I am not used to a mile walk - especially after an eight-hour working day. I made myself a PB&J sandwich and poured a cup of coffee. It seemed like an eternity before I was in my slippers and assuming a position of repose in my Lazy Boy. I turned on the TV and tuned in to the Red Sox game in progress. Somewhere between the bottom of one inning and the top of the next, I fell asleep.
I have finally taken some time off from work. I don't return to work until next Tuesday.
The following was received in an e-mail last week. Like the Esquire cartoon, this piece almost mirrored this day. (I altered the italicized part to reflect an actual event.)
Today, I woke up later than usual.
When I was going to have breakfast I slipped on the stairs and got a big whack on my head.
To calm me down, my wife gave me a cup of coffee; I burned my tongue because it was too damn hot.
I put a slice of bread in the toaster and when I went to get it out I got an electric shock that threw me on my ass.
The telephone rang, it was the mechanic telling me that he was closed for the long weekend. He wouldn't be able to work on my truck's brakes until Tuesday morning.
I decided this was the right time to take a nice hot shower and meditate to bring down my stress and help me to relax. That's when it happened..
Oh well ...
Dem's da breaks!No.1449...And dem's da brakes!