So there I was, minding my own business, tooling down Tanque Verde Road on my way to work after making my usual Tuesday-morning bagel run when I notice a visual disturbance to my right. I turn to look, and the lady in the car to my right is pointing to my back tire and signaling me to roll down my window. The very large dog that is her co-pilot doesn’t look particularly concerned, but he has one of those muzzle-leashes, so, you know, he’s got his own problems.
I roll down my window and say “Hi” in a manner that invites her to speak.
“Your back tire…you need to have it checked.”
“What’s the matter?”
“It looks like you’re missing one or two of the bolts…that sound…you could break an axle, you know.”
“Oh…it always makes that noise.”
(What?! No! Shuddup!)
“No,” is what I actually end up saying.
“Oh…I had a car like that. Well…you should get it checked RIGHT AWAY.”
“I will,” says I, “Thanks.” I won’t, other than to check once I arrive at work that I have 4 nuts on that tire. I do.
I drive a 2000 Nissan Altima that I bought slightly used, a rental return, and despite it being 7 years old, I haven’t had to put a lot of money into it yet. (Knock wood.) I like my car, and plan to drive it until I can’t drive it no more. It’s comfortable, roomy, drives well, has been reliable (again, ever since I got the electrical panel replaced a few months back), and has a groovy stereo in it that Scott bought me for Christmas a couple years back; I can plug my iPod right in and be free of the inanity that is modern radio. This makes me very, very happy.
Because I have that groovy stereo and I use it constantly, I do not generally hear the problem that drives Scott, our friend Coleen, and, apparently, strangers in morning rush-hour traffic, absolutely batty, which is the rattle and screech of my cheap plastic hubcaps as the wheels roll down the road.
For some reason, they do not fit very well, never have, and no one seems to be able to do anything about it. Scott has tried. Tightening the nuts doesn’t help. The guys at the garage could only suggest better wheels, but putting fancy rims on an Altima seems more than a little ridiculous to me. It doesn’t bother me, because I don’t hear it. But I guess everyone else who hears it thinks my car is on the verge of falling apart at any moment, and are, at the very least, annoyed.
I am not a car person, really. Sure, I find some cars more attractive than others, but in the end, I am practical above all else, and can’t see spending a lot of money on a car. As long as what I’m driving has tunes and gets me from A to B, that’s about all I worry about. But I have to admit, I was unexpectedly offended that a stranger thought my car was a mobile hunk of near junk. Salvage title? Are you kidding me? Mine is a fine chariot, and what’s more, it’s paid for!
And if people don’t like the noise it makes, they can turn up their radios.