Your tax dollars at work

I blew out a tire at about 8:25 this morning, heading Eastbound across the I-90 bridge. I limped to the West Mercer exit, pulled over onto the shoulder, and proceeded to swap on the spare. At about 8:35, no more than ten minutes into the incident, a WSDOT roadside assistance truck pulled up behind me, and good thing too, as my “donut” was low on air.

The WSDOT worker was helpful and friendly and prompt. From the driver’s perspective, it’s great to get this sort of “free” assistance, unasked for, but of course his real job is to get cars like mine off the freeway as quickly and safely as possible so as not to tie up traffic.

When conservatives complain about out-of-control government spending they are complaining about services like this. I suppose we could just leave fools like me to our own devices — I’d been meaning to replace my tires for months, and certainly didn’t deserve any free assistance — but that would merely inconvenience and endanger the rest of us when disabled vehicles snarl up traffic. Or, I suppose we could fine every stranded motorist to offset the costs, but that would transform the WSDOT roadside assistance worker from a smiling helping hand into a hated tax collector.

In the end, even though I didn’t really need the help — I’m handy enough to change my own tire, and my donut had enough air to get me to the nearest gas station — it is comforting to know that the help is there if I need it. And perhaps the folks at WSDOT might be comforted to know that on this particular morning they have at least one damn satisfied taxpayer.

Comments

  1. 1

    spews:

    And by the way, I asked the WSDOT guy’s opinion about driving on the flat to the exit as opposed to changing my tire in the middle of the bridge, and he said that was the best thing to do… that I wasn’t likely to damage my wheel over that distance, and it is much safer to be out of the way of speeding vehicles.

    Just thought you should know in case this ever happens to you.

  2. 4

    Sam Adams spews:

    The response team IS a good expenditure!

    Too bad our State Troopers are good enough to stand around at the scene of an accident, but NOT direct traffic around it.

  3. 5

    Brian spews:

    I’ve been helped by those guys before, really a great bunch of people, very fast and prompt. Like you, my donut was completely flat. Filled it up and even gave me the locations of the nearest Discount Tire Co.

    Now that’s service.

    Brian

  4. 6

    michael spews:

    Kinda nice having a big truck with warning lights behind you while you change your tire, huh. Keeping people alive is not an unnecessary expenditure!

    I’m off to check the air in my spare.

  5. 7

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    In the old days, men were ale to change their own tires.
      
    Why pay for the AAA when the government will do for you at the expense of someone else.
      
      
    In the old days men routinely checked the tire pressures of their own tires and of their spare along with changing their own oil. Today, why bother doing for yourself.

  6. 8

    "Hannah" spews:

    These guys are a great help during the rush hour commute!!! My lil bro was helped a few years back with a broken down car on 520 during the morning commute (yes he got a lot of fingers and nasty words) However, don’t expect to see one at night when it is dark and even more dangerous to change a tire, speaking from experience a few months back. I had to call a male friend and waited 40 minutes for him to arrive to change my tire, no state patrol or road side assistance at 10:30PM on I405 in Bellevue.

  7. 10

    rhp6033 spews:

    I’m not sure if this is a “Democratic” or “Republican” issue, but if the Bush Administration was involved, I’m sure there would have been a no-bid contracts, and Halliburton, KBR, or Blackwater would have a multi-million dollar per year contract to provide the same service, which they would then sub-contract to a tow company out in Fall City which would get $10.00 per tow, and respond whenever they could get around to it….

  8. 11

    ArtFart spews:

    10 Don’t forget they’d issue a $1200 blue tarp to put over your car while you’re on the waiting list.

  9. 12

    Jim, (a genuine musician) spews:

    #4:
    Speaking of the WSP, I was in a serious 3-car accident in January of ’07 and the fellows could not realistically have done any better. They quickly evaluated the scene, applied first aid, got the emergency vehicles situated, kept the looky-loo jerks from getting in the way, and were a calming presence.

  10. 14

    Daddy Love spews:

    Has anyone here seen a woman change a tire? I have, several times. Gender has nothing to do with it. Oh, and I cook.

  11. 15

    Mark1 spews:

    No one cares what you think there Daddy-boy. Now off to buy those tampons for your wife like a good little pussy. BTW, the spare tire and jack are usually located in one’s trunk if you can possibly figure out how to use them.

  12. 16

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    13. Daddy Love spews:
    7 MS
    Yes, Triple A is feminizing America! That’s why we must bomb Iran.

      
    Interesting someone that changed their name to daddy love would see men of today struggle to do the things men routinely did a couple decades as being feminized.

    14. Daddy Love spews:
    Has anyone here seen a woman change a tire? I have, several times. Gender has nothing to do with it. Oh, and I cook.

    The difference between you and me is I’m old school. When I see a women changing a tire I would offer to do for her.
    Of course men cook. Check out restaurants, more male chefs than female. As a trained sushi chef I have seen the ratio between male and female sushi chefs.
      
    So, are you ready to confess why you changed your name to daddy love?

  13. 17

    "Hannah" spews:

    @14 – I used to change my own tires at night by myself, but this day in age, they are too many nut jobs to be a woman alone along the dark highway at night. Note: I can still change my own tires, as a matter fact, I change my own oil and have replaced an engine in an old Ford truck. Yes, women can do these things…but is it safe to be out alone nowadays?

  14. 18

    rhp6033 spews:

    When my daughter got her first car, I had her pull it into the garage, and told her to change the tire. “Why???” she asked, looking perplexed. “There’s nothing wrong with it!”

    “Not now”, I said. “But now’s a great time to find out where the spare is, where the jack is, and all the other equipment. Trying to find that stuff, and figuring out how to work it, when it’s dark, 38 degrees with forty MPH winds, is a lot harder”.

    She got the point. But I’d feel a lot better knowing the DOT truck was there to assist her, if I’m not close enough to get there in a reasonable length of time.

  15. 19

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    14. Daddy Love spews:
    Has anyone here seen a woman change a tire? I have, several times. Gender has nothing to do with it. Oh, and I cook.

      
    I was thinking about your post…
    When you and your “wife” are out and you get a flat, does “she” change the tire? Does your “wife” demand you do the cooking and cleaning?
    No doubt you can understand why I ask when you consider AAA to be feminizing america. I was mocking the liberal mindset that the government should do for one instead of doing for one’s self.

  16. 20

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    18. rhp6033 spews:
    She got the point. But I’d feel a lot better knowing the DOT truck was there to assist her, if I’m not close enough to get there in a reasonable length of time.

      
    I applaud you for helping your daughter learn how to do for herself.
      
    Instead of depending on the government, why not just pay the $$ for AAA?

  17. 21

    rhp6033 spews:

    The other day I saw a young fellow in the parking lot of my building, struggling to change a tire with one of those wimpy jacks they put in cars these days. He’d obviously been working at it for some time, and it was taking a LOT of cranks to move the car a couple of inches. He also couldn’t get the lug nuts loose – some of those guys in tire shops are using their air guns to put them on too tight.

    I showed him how to stand on the tire iron to put enough pressure on it to loosen the lug nuts, then I pulled out the floor jack I keep in the back of my Explorer. We had the tire changed in about three minutes.

    A little experience, and the right tools, helps a lot.

  18. 22

    rhp6033 spews:

    MS @ 20 said: “…why not just pay the $$$ for AAA?”

    Actually, we do have AAA. But she needs to know how to change the tire anyway – no telling how long it might take a tow truck to arrive, and what if she’s in a cell phone dead zone?

    As for everybody else – well, everybody isn’t going to pay for AAA. And it can take them a while to arrive. In the meantime, everybody else is suffering, because of the logjam on the bridge caused by one broken-down vehicle. This is an appropriate government function, benefiting not only the person who has car problems, but also everybody else on the road.

  19. 23

    michael spews:

    @7

    Lots of people get killed while changing tire, Etc, on the side of the freeway, that’s why it’s nice to have that big white truck with warning lights behind you.

    I’m all for people learning how to change their own tires and so on (and people NOT forgetting to get new ones when the need them Goldy.) But, what’s at issue here is keeping people safe and keeping traffic moving. Roadside assistance workers are part of that.

  20. 24

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 As usual, Marvin Stamm completely misses the point. Probably deliberately. In a perfect world populated by perfect human beings, no one would ever have a flat tire on the I-90 bridge. But in this world — the one we all have to live in — it’s a good idea to have a system set up to get stranded vehicles off the bridge as quickly as possible so the whole commute doesn’t go to hell in a handbasket. But Marvin just isn’t willing to admit that any taxpayer expenditure for any government expenditure is a good thing. He’s the worst kind of ideologue: The kind who’s talked himself into believing his own lies. It’s people like him — not the Goldys of the world — who have brought America to its knees.

  21. 25

    Blue John spews:

    So in Marvin’s World, There should be no help. It’s fierce individualism and independence all the way. If the man or woman is not smart enough, or strong enough to change the tire, in good weather or bad, then that’s just too bad and they deserve to be hit as road kill. And if they cause a traffic jam because they are slow, then that’s too bad.
    So because Marvin want the person changing the tire to suffer, everyone trapped behind him also has to suffer.
    Short sighted conservative.

  22. 26

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    “Free Service”??
    My Ass.
    Isn’t it just wonderful when an UNPAID Government Volunteer like this WSDOT Volunteer came out to help you in your time of need….all for FREE and all out of the kindness of his heart.
    They should be charging users like you $100/call.
    How much tread was left on your bald-ass tires Goldy??
    Were they even legal????

    From Consumer Reports–
    How safe are worn tires?
    Even tires with half their tread intact may be riskier than you think.
    HALF MAY BE LESS THAN YOU THINK The shallow grooves and worn sipes on the half-tread tire (at right) hint at the potential lost wet-weather grip compared with its relatively new identical twin. Our tests show that rain and snow traction can decline significantly even with half the tread intact.

    Tires can lose their footing long before they’re worn out. Our tests show that tread can give up a significant amount of grip when it’s still at the halfway point.
    That’s particularly worrisome when you realize how many worn tires are on the roads. A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that nearly 50 percent of the 11,500 cars, pickup trucks, vans, and sport-utility vehicles the agency checked had at least one tire with half-worn tread. Another 10 percent had at least one bald tire.

    Worn tires–especially bald ones–can be deadly on wet roads, where the grooves aren’t deep enough to channel water out from beneath the tread. The result is hydroplaning, where the tread skims the water’s surface and the vehicle no longer responds to the steering wheel. Wet-weather braking and snow traction also decrease as tires wear.

    Tires are considered bald when one or more of their grooves reaches 2/32 of an inch deep, compared with about 10/32 of an inch for new tires (tread wear is usually measured in 1/32-inch increments). Manufacturers have made bald tires easier to spot by placing a series of molded horizontal bars at the base of the grooves. The bars become flush with surrounding tread when wear reduces a groove’s depth to 2/32 of an inch. That’s also the point where tires will flunk a state safety inspection–and where tread must be worn for you to collect on a tire’s tread-wear warranty.

    Unfortunately, 2/32 of an inch may be too late if you drive in rain or snow. Based on our tests of new and half-tread-depth tires, you may want to consider replacing the ones on your car or truck closer to the 5/32-inch groove depth that marks the half-tread point on many tires.

    So Goldy—
    How much tread left measured on the shallowest groove????

  23. 27

    ArtFart spews:

    ARRRGH! The upshot of this discussion is that now I’m going to have the lyrics to a certain old Shel Silverstein song stuck in my head all friggin’ afternoon!

  24. 28

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Goldy–
    You could have killed some innocent victim by driving for months after knowing it was time to replace those bald-ass tires.
    Hopefully you learned a valuable lesson.

    You write this thread to compliment WSDOT…at the expense of certifying you are a dumb-ass.

  25. 29

    Blue John spews:

    Here’s a conservative solution given that individuals are on their own and the government should only be there to keep traffic moving. So if someone breaks down on the bridge, a contractor allowed to come out, and harvest the car as their property. They tow the car away and sell it. The person who broke down, is obviously unfit to own that car since they cannot do even minor maintenance and should be relived of it. The people vs The idiot’s car. The contractor would get an award fee for speed of car removal.

  26. 30

    michael spews:

    @23

    Yeah, I think I used enough commas in that post. Maybe Goldy should take up a collection to send me back to school.

  27. 31

    Blue John spews:

    Dang it, only rich people, with the means to maintain their cars in pristine condition should be allowed to drive cars! That would solve congestion and get the riff-raff off the roads! I’m guestimating that anyone who makes under $150,000 should not be allowed a car.
    Hope that includes you, Mr. Cynical.

  28. 32

    Blue John spews:

    What we need is a outsourced contracted agency that goes around parking lots and city streets and exposed driveways measuring treads. When they find any tred that’s too thin, the car is immediately impounded and sold at auction with 3/4ths of the funds going to the contractor and the rest going into the road funds. That will show them.

  29. 33

    Steve spews:

    In Marvin’s universe manly conservatives know how to change tires while effeminate liberals quake on the side of the road, waiting for Big Gov to come save them. Could he possibly be any more delusional?

  30. 34

    Steve spews:

    Mr. Cynical understands that only conservatives have the manly sense to check their tire pressure and tread wear. Silly libs simply wait for the government to save them.

  31. 35

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    25. Blue John spews:
    So in Marvin’s World, There should be no help. It’s fierce individualism and independence all the way. If the man or woman is not smart enough, or strong enough to change the tire, in good weather or bad, then that’s just too bad and they deserve to be hit as road kill.

      
    So you believe only the government can prevent roadkill? Are you that helpless or is your view of fellow americans that low?
      
    Here’s an idea, drive the car with a flat tire off the bridge and to a safe spot on the side of the road. Change the tire or hire someone to do it for you. If you’re not smart enough or strong enough fe

  32. 37

    Blue John spews:

    So you believe only the government can prevent roadkill? Are you that helpless or is your view of fellow americans that low?

    Hi marvin, I think you are one of those conservatives that is unable to detect sarcasm.

    sarcasm: the use of verbal irony in which a person appears to be praising something but is actually insulting it.

    I believe the government is here to help those who cannot do it on their own. You write like you don’t believe the government is there to help for any reason. I was just trying to take your position out to it’s illogical extreme.

  33. 38

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    24. Roger Rabbit spews:
    @7 As usual, Marvin Stamm completely misses the point. Probably deliberately. In a perfect world populated by perfect human beings, no one would ever have a flat tire on the I-90 bridge.

    How many miles long is this i-90 bridge? Too long to drive a flat tire on?
    Oops, goldy in #1 said …about driving on the flat to the exit as opposed to changing my tire in the middle of the bridge, and he said that was the best thing to do.
    Pro-choice, stop on the bridge or exit on an off-ramp.
       

    But Marvin just isn’t willing to admit that any taxpayer expenditure for any government expenditure is a good thing.

    Like you said, I’m a Democratic party hack and liberal propagandist. so you think only the government can do.

  34. 39

    Blue John spews:

    A true conservative knows that roadkill should be ignored unless there is a profit to be made off it, or it’s in the bible, or somehow an illegal alien might benefit from it.

  35. 40

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    36. Steve spews:
    A true conservative knows that only the private sector can prevent road kill.

    A smart person knows how to avoid becoming road-kill.

  36. 41

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    30. michael spews:
    @23

    Yeah, I think I used enough commas in that post. Maybe Goldy should take up a collection to send me back to school.

      
    Sooner or later the grammar nanny, aka daddy love will show up and correct you.

  37. 42

    Steve spews:

    It is common knowledge that conservatives do not drive cars with bald tires or low tire pressure.

  38. 43

    Blue John spews:

    I love the paradox that conservatives don’t believe in evolution but they sure are big advocates of Survival of the Fittest.

  39. 44

    ArtFart spews:

    True conservatives don’t cause road kill with their vehicles. They stop and get their rifles out and….

  40. 45

    spews:

    Cynical @28,

    I called myself a “fool” for procrastinating as long as I did, didn’t I? So I’m a fool, not a dumb-ass. Get it right.

    (And to be fair, the tires had at most 50,000 miles on them, and plenty of tread at least on the fronts. I knew better, and should have replaced them before Winter, but I certainly wasn’t driving around on baldies.)

  41. 46

    rhp6033 spews:

    Hey, that reminds me….

    About ten years ago I parked my car at my office, and happened to look at my front tires. Dang! They weren’t bald, but the car must have been out of alignment, because one of them had a lot of wear on the inside edge – enough that it should have been replaced immediately. You couldn’t see it unless the tire was turned outward (as is this case), or you crawled under the car, or had it up on a rack.

    Okay, it’s Thursday morning, and there’s NO WAY I have time to get a tire on Thursday or Friday, I’m working long hours both days. I say a little prayer that the tire will last me until the weekend, and go on to work.

    That evening, my boss (who came back from an appointment) tells me there’s “something funny” about my car. We both go downstairs, and the car is sitting on the hub – somebody has stolen a wheel! At first I am amazed, then my amazement turns to amusement, as I realize that they stole – the one tire on the car that needed immediate replacement!!!! My boss couldn’t figure out why I thought the whole thing was so funny.

  42. 48

    rhp6033 spews:

    I also had someone who tried to steal my car after it ran out of gas, but that’s another story…..

  43. 49

    Les Schwab spews:

    You may not damage your wheel driving to the next exit but you’re likely to damage or destroy the tire. This happened to me once so if the tires are being replaced, no problem.

  44. 51

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    rhp6033-

    Must have been one of those Gregoire-voting felons OR one of the Gregoire Hobo’s.
    Rossi supporters ain’t that stoopid!

  45. 53

    spews:

    These DOT helpers make a lot more sense economically to reduce congestion than the ridiculously expensive light rail boondoggles that you liberals like.

  46. 54

    GS spews:

    Goldy,

    Oh mighty King and God of Public Transit!

    Damn, another Al Gore!

    Why were you driving in a private vehicle OMG

    I’ll bet you drive to and FROM DL each week too? Hic! Shame Shame Shame!

  47. 55

    Right Stuff spews:

    “When conservatives complain about out-of-control government spending they are complaining about services like this.”

    Not really. Nice try though.
    Now if you want to talk about the designer concrete artwork that adorns offramps etc…..
    Then you’d be on to something….

    The Roadside help the DOT provided is as much a public safety function as it is roadside assistance.
    Republicans don’t think ALL government spending is wasteful. Again nice try.