RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Tuesday, September 12

The Unexpected Power of Lounge - Part I

(artist's rendering of what COULD'VE happened with our car;
also there may never be a Part II to this tbh)

Before I get into this essay upon the discreet and underground Power of Lounge, let me say Fuck Wal-Mart in general, and Fuck the Zion’s Crossroads Wal-Mart Super Center tire center in particular, for being bold and profound powers of unlounge working against us all in general, but recently my family in particular. My eldest daughter was about to head off to college, but got involved in a traffic accident where some dude passed out and ploughed his Nissan truck into oncoming traffic. He died, and a work van got crushed in the middle, and my daughter was involved in the third part, which destroyed her Volvo (late model, a 2001 S80), but sold me on Volvos because likely if she had been driving a Tercel or shitty old Citation (like teenage me), she would’ve been dead too. So we found another Volvo (even later model, a 1998 V70 station wagon, so conceivably she can live it once this U.S. Empire finishes failing). It needed a pair of tires and an oil change leading up to her going to college, so the ol’ lady and eldest daughter took it to the Wal-Mart there in Zion’s Crossroads, because how can you fuck up tires and an oil change?
I’ll tell you how. First, you put different size tires on than the ones you took off, although that didn’t cause an immediate problem. But secondly you can mangle the oil cap to where it no longer functions as a cap, but send the car on its way. We were heading a two-hour drive the next morning to move our daughter off to college, all her shit in the van up front, and her driving behind us (with her sisters, enjoying donuts and a last moment as siblings under the same roof). Not even half an hour into it, her car starts smoking like mad, so we get off the interstate (another force of unlounge on this Earth), and I pop the hood, and there’s oil everywhere, all over the bottom of the engine and catalytic converter and the shit’s actually on fire. So we call 911 because I ain’t got no fire hose, and I’m like “okay, yall shift everything around in the van so she can ride sitting on a milk crate, and I’ll stay here with the burning vehicle while you get her to college on time.” But the fire went out before the fire truck got there, and I left it with a lime green dust cloth in the window to tow to the shop later, wondering what the fuck was wrong with it now that it’d been on fire.
The shop I took it too is chill – Volvo specialists, but not on the high-and-mighty end of Volvo-dom (which is common for European vehicles, yet another force of unlounge… there’s so many). Daughter was at college without a car (which is fine, fuck it, you’re in college, go join the socialist club or something – which she literally did), and me and the ol’ lady are wondering if this previously perfectly fine late model Volvo station wagon was now toast due to incompetent ass Wal-Mart oil changers. The answer was no, not yet, as the shop called and said they replaced the oil cap that got fucked up, and cleaned off the engine, and we should be okay, though it would smell like de-greaser for a while until all that burned off too. So I paid the bill, and caught a ride into work bright and early the next morning with a dude down the road to pick-up the Volvo and park it to drive home after work. It did smell like de-greaser, which has that citrus-y smell of where mechanics wash their hands (think Orange Gojo, my preferred brand, which I think is what my dad used to use at the family shop he worked at for forever), and it was actually kinda pleasant on the way to parking, though the car still sounded rough.
Made my way through another day of pretending to be productive within the overly-complicated labyrinth of the immense bureaucracy, took my one mile walk back to where I park (by the railroad tracks, naturally), and attempted to drive the Volvo home. It still sounded rough, something not quite right, but I didn’t know what, so like anybody with a lifelong history of only driving shitty vehicles in various states of near death, I opened it up on the interstate, staying to the right lane as much possible (easier to escape sharing your natural-born carnage with others that way – the real danger of living a carnage-based lifestyle is being found legally and thus financially liable for committing carnage upon others; nobody gives a fuck if you mangle your own un-excel spreadsheets), and then when I got on the back roads headed home, opened it up the rest of the way. There was a knocking sound at regular intervals, and being this was originally an all-wheel-drive vehicle, upon which the dumbasses at Wal-Mart had put different size pair of tires on one end, I assumed those were related issues, of which I hoped to have an intense and as personal as possible in-person discussion with them as soon as I could. But I had to get home first. There is no right lane for easy escape on curvy rural Virginia back roads, so I just had to take my chances. There’s one spot in particular that’s extra chaotic for outsiders, because like one road twists through two curves while three other roads flow into it, with a country store opposite one side that has a sign out front that says things like “Happy Birthday Ol’ Fart Fuzzy” or “Now Have Bologna Burgers For Breakfast”, and it gives the impression of being like three forks in the road, each fork pointed a different way, all in about an eighth of mile of asphalt, with a country store thrown in for good measure. After clearing this chaos zone though, there’s a mostly straight stretch where you can gun it to test things out (and also where I once wrecked a Toyota Tercel and concussed myself with one of the best concussions I ever had, to where I couldn’t think clearly for a few weeks, and didn’t remember directions… that was a good one), so I tested things out.
Almost immediately there was a loud blowing out sound like a tire had popped, but I didn’t hear any rim scraping asphalt (an easily recognizable sound once you’ve experienced it a couple times). I pulled off into a logging trail entrance, and checked all the tires – good – and decided that even though it felt like I had power still, I might wanna park the Volvo up in the gravel lot by the country store to get towed back to the shop in case I’d blown something serious out. This is life of shitty vehicles thinking here, because when I wrecked my Tercel and had two crooked wheels and concussed myself, it sounded okay enough for me to drive it the remaining 10 miles home. But today’s Volvo did not sound 10-mile ready, so I parked it, texted the same dude from down the road to come pick me up, or else I was gonna start walking home. (Unfortunately I had stopped and gotten groceries, so I was prepared to hitchhike home with a backpack, carrying a watermelon, and a bag of organic chicken thighs plus some kale. Fuck it.)
Got home, and called a tow truck, then drove back in my normal shitty vehicle to wait for the tow truck. Here’s the other interesting thing about the chaos triple fork country store back road segment – GPS doesn’t map well through there, and cell service is spotty at best, so unless you know where you’re going, you likely won’t get it right.
So I went back, about 7:00 or so, and sat in my shitty minivan waiting for the tow truck. Texts could come in but not calls, so the time of arrival got updated and pushed back (and back). The country store closed at 8, and the sun made a beautiful sunset down behind the barn on the other side of the one of the forks in the road. I listened to NPR for a while, but all the after work commuter traffic from C-ville died down, and the country store shut off its lights, and it was getting dark, and I wasn’t doing shit but sitting there in the middle of nowhere – my middle of nowhere, a middle of nowhere I know deeply, so that the abandoned house with the busted windows… I knew a big sprawling family used to live there and wild ass country daughters who seemed to be too early sexualized would do backflips on the trampoline in the side yard before it became abandoned; that the house just past with the Tercel with one flat permanently flat tire used to be a functional vehicle that a crazy-eyed older woman would sometimes be pulling out in the middle of all these forks and curves in the morning around the same area this old guy would always be walking with a Styrofoam cup of coffee from the country store, so it’d be danger zone time if you’re brakes weren’t working well, which also was common but fuck it… this was all of our nowhere, and the worrisome NPR news about this impending tragedy or that overlooked injustice just didn’t resonate with me in this moment. I had a formerly okay late model car that now appeared to be a piece of shit due to corporate incompetence, but I had to get the piece of shit towed to find out for sure, so I wasn’t gonna sit here and worry myself any further. Worrying doesn’t solve nothing, as I always tell my children when anxious.
So it got dark, and I sat there. The cicadas were freestyling a late summer freestyle about “fuck it all, I’m gonna sit here not giving a shit until the day I die, the day I die, the day I die” and I was digging it. Now and then someone else’s raggedy late model this or that would rumble through, silencing the cicadas briefly, and I would dissect the missing engines or mangled mufflers or ’93 pick-ups that obviously could not be cut off after started up unless you were already where you planned on going. The chaos of the forks and curves created a nice pattern for these mechanical messes to navigate, broken and dilapidated roars coughing to a downward crescendo until the necessary turn had been made, then a wild and wonderful resistant working person’s ROAR of making it another mile, fuck you corporate overlords and culture of big bossmans and lizard brained politicians. (Too much NPR, perhaps.) And then the cicadas would slowly start to pipe back up their feral symphonic refrain as well, “until the day I die, day I die, day I die.” It was all a very beautiful and perfect moment, and I’d had to walk through these curves due to breaking down, and wrecked in these curves before as well, and driven many a beaten and battered car of my own, commuting to various jobs at different stages of my life. GPS would get you lost, but I knew each fork, each curve, could get quickly to Palmyra, Charlottesville, Scottsville, and any point otherwise easily, fuck your robot maps. Fuck your robot world.
These were the thoughts that danced through my head, backed by the cicada refrain and shitty vehicle soliloquies going on, until the tow truck driver finally did show up, driving right past. No cell service, so I cut the lights on the minivan, and stood outside for ten minutes waiting for him to finally circle back, to pick up another vehicle which may or may not be a piece of shit, owned by a man who may or may not be the same, in an unseen rural wasteland that makes up a large chunk of the United States, as well as the Earth.
The rear drive shaft got blown out by the mismatched tires, I found out from the shop, which was what I expected, but luckily they are loungers too, and explained all we had to do was take it off the vehicle, our all-wheel drive was now just front-wheel drive (like most cars), and the exposed gear bevel box made a loud clacking sound but it was sort of like the grown person’s car version of when you stuck a jack of diamonds in your bicycle spokes. Now we can keep squeezing life out of this vehicles which has been maimed by those assholes at the Zion’s Crossroads Wal-Mart Super Center, and it might drive another 2000 or 20,000 or 200,000 miles – one can never tell, because the Power of Lounge works in unexplainable ways. But if you slow down enough, and stop sometimes – either by design or disaster – it’s easy to see. And though I could probably “apply” myself and be a more proactive success in this world in the commonly accepted sense of that word “success”, I’m pretty good with not giving a fuck, and sitting here not giving a shit about all that stress and shine, like the cicadas were singing, until the day I die, day I die, day I die.

1 comment:

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