I like to fix things. So much so that, on the weekends, even after a week of 10-hour days at the garage, I might find time to take a carburetor apart. Or put one back together. I figure it’s good to stay in practice because it’s getting harder and harder to find someone who can rebuild a carburetor. What I’m getting at is this: there’s rarely a car challenge I turn down.
But sometimes, I do say no. Mostly, during the summer driving distress season, which is in full swing right now.
Are you the one who drove into the bay trying to get to a friend’s place on Lieutenant Island in time for cocktails at 5 when high tide was at 6? I’m sorry I missed your call. But let me ask: was the water above your door line? There’s something you need to know: all that water you see out there, the water that rushes in with the rising tide, that is salt water.
I know it’s tough to hear this, but no, I cannot help you. It might make you feel better to know we do get at least one call from someone in your soaked shoes every summer. This newspaper publishes a handy tide chart each week. It’s something you might like to clip and keep on hand for those times you can’t get cell coverage out here.
Did you decide it was high time you ventured to a pond that’s a little more hidden than your usual spot? So, you drove your Prius to Spectacle Pond. Or your GPS pointed your Honda Odyssey toward Slough. I’ll be happy to replace your exhaust system, the one that’s now sitting on the side of Schoolhouse Hill Road. But I don’t do the towing. For that you’re going to need AAA. You’re on a road trip, so I’m sure you’ve got that, right?
Whenever the National Seashore’s oversand corridor is closed because of shorebirds nesting there, things get a little quieter on the stuck-in-the-sand front. If you’ve gone through the permitting process with the Seashore, you’ve already checked out how to air down your tires and what you need to pack — they require you to have a full-size spare tire, a tow rope and jack, and other things you will hope you don’t have to use. But you read all that online on the Park’s website already.
There is a nail garden somewhere on the Outer Cape. I know this because people drive through it all summer long. Please don’t ask me to pull the nail out and plug your leaky tire. That’s something I have to say no to. There are safety reasons for getting the kind of repair the transportation department requires, and that involves an internal patch, and only if the hole is on the tread, not the shoulder or sidewall. And if your tire is in good shape. If you’re the one whose treads were worn thin, I’m sorry that I made you mad. But you really do you need to replace that tire.
Bodywork is not my forte. That is why I will say no to fixing that thing that happened to you at the Orleans rotary. Rotaries are a Massachusetts specialty, and though drivers here may do their best not to reveal the secrets of navigating them successfully, trust me, there is a way to do it right.
The main idea of a rotary is that it allows you to continue through an intersection of various roadways without necessarily having to stop. Where a stop sign or traffic light might have you sitting and waiting for no good reason when traffic is light, at a rotary you can cruise along. All you have to do is slow down and yield to cars that are already in the rotary, because they have the right of way.
Where you come from, cutting in line may be a local point of pride. But I can tell you that out here we are against it. Nobody is going to let you in. Do not let this panic you. It just means that if traffic is heavy, you may actually have to stop and wait to merge in when there’s an opening.
One other thing to not panic about: Let’s say you’re in the rotary and you miss your exit. Don’t stop or try to turn around. Just go around the circle again. That, and maybe a few other tips here, will, I hope, save your rear end.