Saturday, June 11, 2011

How to almost die and cancel shows at the same time

So, as usual we got the van checked out before the tour so that we wouldn't experience any problems on the road.  We're usually pretty fastidious when it comes to these kinds of things, mostly because the bands that we have been in have all had shitty van trouble.   Our mechanic, the same one we've gone to numerous times before, put the front, driver's side wheel of our van on incorrectly.  What that amounted to was a slight feeling of resistance when we were driving, but having just taken the van to mechanic we ignored the feeling figuring it must just be the road or something.  Looking back obviously we should have paid closer attention to this detail, but we relied of the professionalism of our mechanic and figured it must be in our heads.

We were driving Northwest towards Minneapolis on a stretch of highway that was under construction leaving only two lanes of traffic.  About an hour and a half outside of Chicago on that highway the car suddenly jerked to the left and I lost control of the van for a second or two.  I managed to pull over to the side, and thankfully the driver next to me and the one behind me both reacted quickly preventing a major accident.  We knew we had trouble because it wasn't a flat tire as we imagined, but rather smoke was coming out of the hubcap and the wheel itself looked like it was angled strangely.  We called for help, eventually getting towed by Illinois highway safety to a safer part of the road, and then we were soon picked up by a tow truck sent by AAA.  Both tow truck guys were very kind, and the second one found our wish to cram into the front of his tow truck to be funny enough to put on his facebook. The mechanic we went to was very helpful and insistent that he could get us on the road, as long as there was no major damage, which he figured there wasn't.  Sadly this was not so.

Apparently, our mechanic forgot to put in a pin that keeps the bolts in place, that keep the wheel tightly secured to the spindle.  Without the pin the bolts became loose and the wheel span irregularly while the wheel bearings began to grind into each other destroying the wheel and the spindle.  The spindle needed to be ordered, the shop was closing and wouldn't be open again until Monday.  According to these guys the wheel was able to freely move about a foot each way, and was on the verge of falling out.  In fact, they were fairly surprised it didn't fall off, citing this as one of the worst examples of this type of problem they had ever seen.  So, we are lucky that not only because there was no accident when the van swerved, but also that the wheel didn't fly off outright.  Considering the size of the highway and the steep embankment next to us, the disaster this situation could have been is frighteningly large.

We were left with no choice but to leave the van at the mechanic's shop as we could not move the van, or hope to tow it back to Chicago.  A wonderful friend of ours came to pick us up, so lucky are we that this did not happen farther outside of Chicago.  Carrie and Kyle went to our mechanic today to demand a refund for the original job as well as the cost to cover the emergency fix, however, a decision will not be reached until Monday.  Even if they do cover some, or all of those costs, we lost money on the drive, on the shows we are missing, and at our next prospect which is driving 2000 miles over 31 hours to reach Sacramento in time to pick up the rest of the tour.  We are committed to this idea, and we intend to do it, but we have no hope on recouping any expenses on this tour.  If you are reading this ahead of any shows that we are going to play, please be generous at the door and buy some jazz, we're just trying to spread the noise.

In all, we're happy to be alive and undamaged and to have such amazing friends who would help us out like they have.  We're unbelievably bummed and sorry to have to cancel our Minneapolis, Lincoln, Denver, and Provo shows; hopefully y'all understand, this wasn't our choice and it didn't occur out of negligence.  We'll make it up soon.

Zack

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