Monday, January 4, 2016

A Guardian Angel gets his wings!

Last week, Murphy’s Law posted about his trip to see family and friends in Michigan.  I know, I know, the Texan in me is scratching my head thinking,  Michigan?  December?  Detroit (anytime)?  YGBSM!  But he did show good judgement and bring along the brains in the house, his dogs.

There was one specific story he related about managing to get some good service at a Firestone garage when he experienced some mechanical issue with his vehicle.  Fortunately, the issue was comparatively minor and he was back on the road quickly.  But that tale reminded me of a story.

So….There I was! *

Retired from the Air Force and back in God’s Country (AKA Texas to all you heathens!).  I was teaching a computer class at the local High School, while also assisting my wife run our wine tasting room.

Texas, at the time, had just turned the corner in the wine industry and started getting recognition for producing some excellent wines, but the accompanying support structure was not there.  My wife was astute enough to recognize that and suggested we start a wine tour business. 

In any case, we purchased a limo bus, much like the rental car ferry buses at the airport, but the inside was decked out in Leather with all the accouterments of a Limousine.  
Not Me But it is the actual limo.  We sold the company a few years ago.
Source
The limo can legally carry 14, and was really comfortable.
Source

We’d pick up the customers at their B &B, drive them around to the wineries, load their purchases and drop them back off at their B&B at the end of the day.  I was the primary driver and most weekends, that was what I did.  

Occasionally, we’d have customers that would want to visit specific wineries and we would work to accommodate them.  However, Texas is a big state and travel time between wineries can become significant.

(Sarge,  really?  You complain about driving 15 miles?  I drive that far…for milk!)

Where was I?  Oh, out of the way wineries.

I’ve got a custom tour scheduled one Saturday to visit wineries close (relatively, within 30 miles) to Austin.  I pick up the two couples at their B&B and start heading that way.  

Along the way, I get to know them a bit.  Turns out they’re friends and the two men are Houston Cops.  Initial discussion leads me to figure out that the whole wine tour thing is the ladies idea and the guys are going along to keep they happy.  I tell them that there is beer in the cooler along with wine and as long as they stay in the back, the open container law doesn’t apply. 

Smiles break out. 

We make it to the first winery and all goes well.  The ladies are sipping wine and the guys are nursing a beer.  We’re on our way to the second winery, one I’ve never been to before, which is way off the beaten path down a Farm to Market Road.


Digression Alert!  Farm to Market roads were one of the few things LBJ did right.  They are feeder roads that link Farms and Ranches to Highways allowing more efficient transportation of products to market.
The circle is where the adventure started.

We’re headed down this road, when I hear a bang from the back of the Limo and feel a wobble.  I pull off the road across from a small house and get out of the bus.  I’ve shed the tread from the inside right rear tire.  Additionally, the steel belting in the tire has scored the outside tire and it’s leaking air.

The limo is not outfitted with a jack as it is too heavy to lift with a portable one.  In any case, there’s no spare. So, at this point, I can drive it, but not very far. I’m only a mile or so from the winery, so I elect to limp there and figure out how to recover at that point.
We load back up and head on to the winery. (The ladies having stayed on board.  The guys got out to help me assess.) 

We’re pulling in to the winery when I see two guys come out from it. (Seems the owner of the house had called to advise them of our problem.)   They take a look at the tire as I stop in the parking lot and then come over to the driver’s window.  I roll it down and they ask me to take the bus around the back of the building, pointing me to a drive.
 
I figure I probably wouldn’t want a broken down limo in the parking lot either, so I comply.

At this point, my Guardian Angel kicks it into high gear.

I drive around the rear of the building and he guides me into a garage.  The owner's hobby is restoring automobiles.  He’s got a jack big enough to lift the limo.

I shut down the Limo and get out.  His wife comes out of the winery and offers to take my passengers on a tour while we figure things out.  

Meanwhile, the owner has gotten the jack in position and has the pneumatic wrench out and begins to loosen the lug nuts.

I look over at the two Cops.  They look like little kids.  Big smiles on their faces, they ask him if they can do that.  He says OK.  Brrrrp, Brrrrp, Brrrrp, Brrrrp.  The outside tire is off.  I’m happy about that, but still don’t have a clue what I’m going to do about replacement.

Out of the winery comes the other guy that had met us out front.  He had taken the tire information and called the local National Tire and Battery dealer.  Turns out, they had two of those tires in stock.  Not one, not three, two!  He told the dealer to hold them.  

As he relays that info to us, he hands me the keys to his truck and gives me directions to the dealership.  The Cops throw the dead tires in the bed and I’m off to Cedar Park 29.1 miles away.  I tweaked a speed limit or two and arrived there in about 25 minutes to find a full parking lot. I park the truck and walk in.  The waiting room is full.  There’s one guy talking to the person behind the counter, so I get in line behind him.  I'm still in line and haven't made it to the person behind the counter when a mechanic walks up to me. 

He says “You the limo guy?”

“Yep”

“Come with me”

I follow him.  He walks out to the truck grabs the tires and rolls them over to the work stand. 

20 minutes later, (15 for labor, 5 for me profusely thanking him) I’m back on the road. 

I pull back into the winery and haven’t shut off the truck yet when the Cops have off loaded the new wheels.  They quickly put one on and tighten it down. 

The outer one goes on just as fast and we drop the limo and remove the jack. 

Just as the ladies walk out of the winery. 

 They walk onto the bus, the Cops get on.  I shake hands all round, and fire it back up. 

One of the ladies came up to the front and said “That didn’t take long, do we still have time for the third winery?”

“Yes, Ma’am”

Dropping them off at the B&B, both of the Cops came up and said that was the most fun they’d had in a long time.  Evidently while I was rocketing across Central Texas, they’d been drinking beer with the Owner and Winemaker and discussing car restoration.



*SJC

20 comments:

  1. Excellent mini-adventure. Serendipity and some more brain cells are used for storage of good memory.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks,
      As may be expected, I included that winery in any tour that was anywhere close.

      Delete
  2. AS is said, "Sometimes you gets the bear. . ."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, but usually the bear gets you!

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  3. Great story, happy ending, satisfied customers, and knowing that there are good people out there. Great way to start the work year.

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  4. Sometimes, when you really need it and least expect it, life comes up sevens and elevens. Great tale indeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks,
      Yep. Had no idea how I was going to get them back to the world. And ever since, I've done my best to direct people to that winery.

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  5. Replies
    1. Has to be. Too many things fell perfectly into place for it just to have been dumb luck.

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  6. You just never know what fun a mini crisis will bring! Instead or worrying about it you went along for the ride! That limo BTW, seems to remind me of Austin Powers for some reason.

    No, some 70s van. That's the ticket.

    As to Uncle Skip's good point, you were reminded of the goodness of people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know if I was worrying, but I was sure doing a lot of heavy thinking about options in that last mile after the flat tire.

      They certainly went way beyond the pale in helping me.

      Delete
  7. Give manly men a problem to solve and they are happy.

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    Replies
    1. Or...tell a man about a problem and he will start to solve it. (gets me into trouble with the wife all the time)

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  8. Sometimes - the problem is the reason for the day - and the part you remember.

    How many other Saturday trips you remember? Fondly?

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  9. Them's some good angels! I wouldn't mind taking a wind tour in Texas. A few years ago when we had business in Buffalo, NY, we made a weekend trip to Niagara On the Lake, Ontario, which happens to be some serious wine country. We stayed in a little
    B&B which had a couple of bicycles for the tourists. We rode from winery to winery tasting and buying wine. We met other bikers and wine tasters and had a great time. The trick was to remember where we bought what wine in order to go back with the car to pick up the wine. Another trick was getting the wine back to OK.

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    Replies
    1. I can heartily recommend touring the Hill Country Wineries. The ambiance of most of the wineries has changed a lot in the last few years, some of them have absolutely stunning views. BITD, I was pretty much the only option other than driving yourself, and so was pretty well booked all the time. That's not the case anymore, which is a good thing. I learned to watch the people in the winery that were not in my group and make sure I left well before those I'd seen several places in a row. But as I said, that's been cleaned up quite a bit, not completely, since I sold the business.

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  10. Replies
    1. Thanks. Met a lot of good people doing those tours and generally had a lot of fun.

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