Thursday, March 22, 2007

When Life Serves You Lemons, Watch Out For The Paper Cut It Has Waiting In The Wings

Tuesday night I was late getting home owing to missing my train into work, then the next one while I tried to locate a parking space. Snow has been piled in some of the stalls and left to set up into icecrete, and people are behaving badly with the spaces that are clear, so it took a while.

Once at work I had to deal with several items of more than usual crappiness including being informed of the events alluded to in the previous post. I also had to "get into it" with my drug plan insurance company who are adopting a policy of refusing to cover anything as a cost-cutting exercise. This then involved me having to mediate between them and my doctor, with the added refinement that each time the insurance was declined no alternative medication was suggested in its place. It is hardly likely I suffer from hypertension with this sort of stupid, counter-productive crap going on.

Finally, my extended clocking-off time came around and I made my way to Penn Station (the Brooklyn trains to Ronkonkoma now being a thing of the distant past) and managed to miss two trains due to delays in the subway system, dooming me to arrive Chez Stevie at around 9pm. I filled in the time listening to a duet playing some sort of Appalachian pre-Bluegrass on Banjo and Violin, part of the sanctioned busking program that makes life interesting for the commuter, sometimes in the Chinese sense of the phrase.

The usual pattern is that the acts play for change and sell CDs of their material too, usually for around 10 bux. This act wasn't dreadful1. It was interesting to hear the music and watch it being produced but I don't know if I'd buy an album of the stuff. Not at the 15 bux they were asking anyway. I dropped a dollar and boarded my train when it was called, and spent the trip playing with php2 on an antediluvian laptop good for nothing else.

I arrived at Wyandanch and hiked the quarter mile or so back towards NYC to get my car, and began the drive home along Acorn Avenue. Acorn Avenue is a potholed stretch of road that has been in poor repair for, well, forever. The crews generally get round to filling in the holes around November just in time for the snowplows to tear out the indifferently-done repairs the next January. To add to the sense of adventure for the driver, there are no street lights along Acorn Avenue at any point, no "cat's eye" reflectors, nothing to give the driver a clue as to what the road looks like. Even the center line is no longer reflective, where there is one at all. One might easily be forgiven for not realising that this road is a highly trafficked route, used by hundreds of LIRR commuters every day.

Did I mention the school?

Anyway, I set out and engaged the cruise at 40mph rather than take advantage of the night to "forget" about the local speed limit as so many do, more in order to reflect upon the crappy day than any altruistic sympathy with the speed laws if the truth be told.

I was about forty feet from the usual array of potholes when suddenly there was an enormous thump from the undercarriage, a thump so loud that it almost drowned out a stream of my very best swear words. Yes, one of the smaller "repairs" had bee torn out of the road leaving a pothole about a foot deep and maybe 15 inches long. My speed was just enough to allow me to hit the far edge of the hole and inflict maximum nagasaki3 on the vehicle. Any slower and I would probably have bounced. Any faster and I would probably have sailed over it. The tar was pitch black (naturally) and the hole was perfectly invisible even with my headlights shining right on it.

The car didn't show any immediate tendancy to collapse onto the road in a shower of sparks, adopt a new course independant of the helm, wobble all over the shop making flappy noises or bounce up and down on one side so I assumed it was safe to continue and drove home without further incident, apart from some moron who refused to believe that I didn't have my headlights on full beam despite being shown that I had "more where that came from" while we were waiting at opposite sides of the Nicolls Road/Deer Park Avenue lights, and who insisted on trying to signal me in morse with his halogens for a good part of the wait for green.

Upon arriving home I unlimbered my big flashlight and inspected the damage. The ABS wheel cover was bent and broken, and it took some time to wrestle it back onto the wheel in anything approaching its original format. The wheel rim was nicely buckled too, thank you very much.

The brand new wheel rim I had fitted three days after Christmas4 during A Simple Three Thousand Mile Service and New York State Inspection.

  1. They go by the name of "The Ebony Hillbillies" if you want to try and find them for yourself
  2. A computer scripting language "optimised" for website authoring and very popular with the "free lunch" crowd. I am learning it because I was told to port a bunch of web-based, database-backed applications from Windows/IIS/ASP/MS SQL Server to Linux/Apache/some language/MySQL and I didn't feel like doing it in perl
  3. nagasaki (abs n.): extremely large amounts of damage dealt in a single incident, blow or volley
  4. Actually, I lie. It was the wheel that replaced that one when I noticed that the (now broken) wheel cover didn't fit the one they attached to the car in December.

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