For a while now, our car has been really bumpy. Extremely bumpy, actually.
A few months ago, I drove up to one of the mosques in Salt Lake with a group from my MESA class. It was a fairly bumpy ride, but nothing I was too worried about. The whole drive back home, cars behind us would flash their brights or honk or wave their arms at me. I couldn't figure it out--I wasn't doing anything stupid that would cause road rage. Finally a big suburban pulled up next to me (at 75 mph) and yelled to me to check my back left tire. We pulled over, but it wasn't low, so I just thought he was crazy. We made it home just fine.
Last week, Nancy and I had to go up to SL. Once we got on I-15 and hit 57 mph, the car started shaking like crazy--our seats, the dashboard, everything in the glove compartment, even the gas and speed needles. It felt kind of massage-like, but the relaxation factor of the massage was offset by the panic factor of wondering if the car would blow up. We made it up there and back, but had to drive really slow.
My dad told me that it was simply out of alignment and that it would be easily fixed at any tire store. Wanting to stop the free massages and be able to drive faster, I went to Les Schwab yesterday.
Little side story about Les Schwab. Years ago, my family went on a vacation up to Seattle. Les Schwab at that time had not penetrated the Utah market yet, but was all over the place in Washington. Because of the proximity to Canada, I figured it was really a French store, since "Les" matched other French words I knew, like Les Miserables, Les Choristes, etc. Man, I was cultured. Every time we drove by a Les Schwab, I told myself that Les Schwab meant "The Tires" in French.
I kept my French tires theory silent until I had proof (my 15 year old mind was amazing...). The evidence I needed came at a Seattle Mariner's game that we went to. We sat behind a row of Québécois, who talked incessantly during the game. One of them saw an advertisement for Les Schwab and said "Oooh la la...Les Schwab" (pronounced "lay schwab"). My theory was proven.
As we drove home after the game, I proudly announced my findings to my family as soon as we passed the first French tire store. But, instead of being applauded as the great deductive linguistic scholar that I was, they all laughed! Apparently the guy's name is Les.
However, to this day, every time I see a Les Schwab store, I secretly say it with a ridiculous French accent. I'll be proven right someday!
Anyway, back to fixing our shaking car. The technician checked the alignment and declared that it was perfect already. He went back to run a few more tests. While he was out there, I sat in the lobby with 4 other people, all awaiting the verdict for their cars. I immediately noticed a movie theater popcorn machine. Mmm... I was hungry. All 5 of us in the lobby eyed it longingly, but because it was off in a corner, we couldn't tell if it was for employee use only.
After 5 minutes or so, a new customer came in and before he sat down, he immediately went and got popcorn. After he came and sat down, I and everyone else in the lobby stood up in unison to get popcorn. It was legal! I guess I should have looked at all the popcorn kernels smashed in the lobby carpet and got the clue.
The technician returned and announced that the problem was that the back left tire (that people were yelling at me previously about) was actually falling apart. Pieces of the rubber were flapping off and metal was showing. The damage was bad enough that it could have blown up at any time with summer heat and fast speeds and stuff. Scary stuff!
So, after waiting in the cool lobby, eating free popcorn, watching schoolbus races on the Auto Channel, and avoiding a summer sales dude that wanted to small talk with me, our dead tire got replaced and I drove away, on the smoothest ride ever!
Thank you French tires!