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   overheard in the automotive waiting room
Saturday, October 9 2004
I drove to a different inspection garage out on 28 west of Kingston to get, you know, my truck inspected. This time the mechanic had my truck for only about three minutes before returning it to me with the news that it was a lost cause because it had severe "dry rot" in all the tires except the new one (I'd replaced my baldest tire with the new spare this morning). As you can see, nothing was happening to lessen my psychological aversion to the inspection process.
Mind you, I didn't think my tires were that bad. They had superficial cracks, true, but I'd just hauled two separate one ton loads on those same tires. Perhaps my problem was the anti-Bush sticker on my bumper. It's occasions like this that keep people from being more expressive of their beliefs.
Back home, Gretchen set me up with yet another appointment at Meineke, the guys who couldn't figure out what day it was yesterday. She asked if I was confident my tires would hold up for another Catskill winter, and when I said no, she said I should probably just go to Mavis Discount Tire and get new ones.
So I spent my afternoon at Mavis. Originally they told me it would only take an hour and a half to put on my tires, so I walked across 9W to the Hudson Valley Mall to kill an hour, but when I got back my truck was still on the lift. Nobody else was around, so I changed the channel of the waiting room teevee from football to MSNBC, which was broadcasting a historical background show called Headliners and Legends. Their biographies went as follows: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, and Rush Limbaugh. I kid you not. Mega fucking dittos.
After awile I was joined by a blond woman who was waiting to have Mavis fix something they'd fucked up. She was in her late 20s or thirties but had an unfashionably proletarian haircut that made her look a good fifteen years older. Anyway, she saw some clips of Bush and Kerry and made a comment about how much she didn't like John Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. She said that she couldn't imagine Teresa being a first lady and that she thought perhaps she was "pulling Kerry's strings." "Yeah, perhaps that's true, but I think Cheney's pulling Bush's strings!" I replied, indicating the scariness of that form of puppetry by implication alone. Later the blond woman saw a clip from Iraq and observed, "You know, I think that other guy is a lot more dangerous, what's his name? I think they should go after him. How hard can he be to catch? He's on kidney dialysis!" She was referring to Osama bin Laden. "Maybe they have him in a cage somewhere and they'll bring him out the day before the election," I said. "Hmm, maybe!" she chuckled. I had a feeling her opinions represented a good sample from uneducated America, a demographic I can only meet in automotive waiting rooms.
Another group of people with whom I shared the waiting room for a time was a trio of overweight teenage girls. They chirped and cackled and talked on their cell phones, usually speaking in a way that suggested they wanted to be overheard. They didn't talk much about guys, although the thinnest of the three was going to be meeting some guy later today, although it wasn't clear that it would be a booty call. I got the feeling they were all virgins. The biggest plan for the time being centered around where they'd be eating lunch. Appleby's was a prime candidate, although one of them said she was tired of eating there. I thought I had absolutely nothing in common with these girls until one of them started raving about the movie Office Space, which she had watched many times. "'I'm going to have to go ahead and ask you to come in on Sunday.'" she quipped. The others chuckled, though one of them wasn't clear on the movie being discussed. "It's a 90's movie," the Office Space fan explained, as though the 90s had happened before Vietnam. Then she added, "I think it came out in like '94 or '95." (It actually came out in '99, and I saw it in a movie theatre in San Diego.)
You have to be careful when getting work done at Mavis, because when they have the tires off your vehicle they like to show you the things that are wrong with your vehicle that they can fix for you while you're there. They tried to sell me on replacement shocks for the Honda Civic when I took it there some months ago, but I wasn't buying it for a car that new. Today, though, when homeslice told me about how my shocks were leaking and how they could ruin my nice new tires, he'd found himself a sucker. It was a big job getting the old shocks off my truck. I saw them using a welding torch.
The only good thing about blowing eight hundred dollars on tires, shocks, and alignment was that Mavis also does inspections, and I passed! (If they failed me after all the money I dropped, I don't know what blunt object I would have pummeled them with.) Guessing what will cost me hundreds of dollars prior to my inspection next year, I'd venture a guess that it will have something to do with the exhaust system. (The truck's tailpipe ends a few inches short of where it should and resembles the end of a broken twig.)

Back home, Gretchen was gone. She was out entertaining Ray and Nancy, who had come up from Booklyn for the weekend. They all returned while I was harvesting leaf litter from the woods to cover the bare soil of the filled trench project trenches.
In the late afternoon the four of us went together to the Rondout to look at a house Ray and Nancy might want to buy. It was a simple brick house built back in 1800. The floors were all warped from foundation settlement and some of the upstairs rooms had appallingly low ceilings, but other than that it was a beautiful, sound old house. Anything that has persisted for 204 years had to have been built well at the outset. A recent rennovation had given the place æsthetics suitable for Manhattanite tastes, yet the house was relatively inexpensive: about $200,000. The thing that seemed to be keeping the price low was the one thing that couldn't be replaced or upgraded: the neighborhood. The houses around it were all beautiful Victorians, but they'd fallen into neglect and were obviously occupied by renters. We saw a few of the locals standing in the street talking and flashing their bling. Then one of them jumped into a car and peeled out with a great deal of unnecessary fanfair. Few people would spend much money on a house after seeing that happen out in front.
We drove down to the Strand (the business district in the Rondout) and had fancy drinks (the kind that come with umbrellas) at the Golden Duck, the Chinese restaurant there. It seemed we were the first people to ever go in there just to drink, because our waitress kept trying to interest us in the food menu. Unexpectedly, the drinks sapped our motivation while making us giddy. Eventually we abandoned plans to eat dinner at La Pupuseria. Instead we relocated to a different table in the back and ordered Chinese food.

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