Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More Than I Bargained For

A few years ago, Tara and I bought a used truck.  At the time, we each only had small cars.  Tara's was a ‘91 Toyota Celica with barely enough room for people and I had a ‘99 Saturn, which we still own.  Oh what an advanced piece of technology.  While most vehicles are rated based on horse power, I believe mine has about 90 mouse power.  Yeah, that's right, it couldn't pull Bert's Radio Flyer wagon if someone got behind and pushed.
The truck has served us well.  But, like any vehicle, it needs some TLC every now and then.  Right now, the truck needs new wheels and tires.  The tire treads are low and the steel wheels are deteriorating; causing constant flats.  Luckily, we have an air compressor, courtesy of my father-in-law (thanks by the way).  But, filling tires every time I want to use the truck gets old and, although we plan to “drive it until the wheels fall off”, I would prefer if the wheels didn’t actually fall off. 
My mechanic told me he no longer deals with used wheels or tires and I wasn’t about to put new wheels or tires on a truck with over 140,000 miles.  So, I decided to go to one of those U-Pull-It places.  How hard could it be?  I've changed tires before.  Besides, when I called and said what I was looking for (15" steel or aluminum wheels with decent tires) they said that they had some, already pulled and ready to go.  Of course, me being the trusting type, I believed them.  Yeah…
So, I went to the front office (a busted up trailer) and told them who I was.  Of course, the person I had spoken with was not working that day.  Picture three large men; missing teeth, long beards, bandanas and old trucker hats, cigarettes hanging out of their mouths and seemingly speaking in only four letter words - all looking at me like I had three heads.  Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against any of them and it's not like I am always the poster child for proper English.  It was just a little intimidating is all.
Finally, one of them found a Post-It note with my information and said, "You were looking for 14" wheels, right?"  Ummm, no.  So, he offered to drive me around the yard to find other wheels and/or tires I could use.  Now, apparently, they experience a lot of theft.  (Just as an aside, if you're going to risk getting arrested for stealing, might as well steal new parts, eh?!)  Anyway, this guy gets a call from the office saying they saw people hopping the fence on a security camera and this guy needs to go confront them.  Wouldn’t you know it; he decides to take me along for the ride.  Joy.  Now, I don't condone stealing, but I certainly hadn't planned to confront the type of individuals who do.  I just came for the wheels.  Thankfully, we never found anyone.  Oh look at that, I said "we", as if I was helping him look.
Finally, we found 4 wheels that were still in good shape with two good tires.  Of course, the day I picked to get these wheels was the same day Irene came to greet us.  Again, joy.  In my defense, I didn't think it would matter since I was told they already had the wheels ready to go.  So, there I am, standing in the pouring rain, soaked to the bone, taking the wheels off of a truck that's balancing on a wet fork lift, four feet off the ground, on a muddy hill, unsteady at best.  This is why people pay mechanics.
I should mention that the fork lift operator was great.  Once it began to really pour, he carried the truck over to his trailer and got out an air wrench for me to use.  He even removed the two bad tires - something that wouldn't normally seem like much but I left out the part where he only had one arm.  No joking, one arm. And, he did it all with a smile.  I was impressed and he got a tip.
Four hours later, I got four steel wheels and two good tires for a bargain compared to what a shop would have charged. 
So that's my first junk yard experience.  Good times.  I might consider paying someone else next time.  Or, I could always fill the Saturn with whatever heavy supplies I need and call AAA to come tow it to my house.  Nope, pay someone else, definitely.

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