Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is very happy this evening because La Wrangler is home from the shop, where she’d been since Friday morning owing to a case of the dreaded Jeep “Death Wobble” which I had been ignoring for about seven months, but could no longer avoid addressing.

The analysis of the trouble reported to me was that I had a duff steering damper that needed to be replaced.  When I went round this afternoon, I decided to employ my google-fu talent to stick on a little side with the service-wallah.

“You know,” I said, “there are a number of Jeep forums out there that say replacing the steering damper is only a Band-Aid that may mask the real reason for the Death Wobble.  I trust your people inspected the entire front suspension? I mean, I wouldn’t want an overlooked, burned out ball-joint or something causing me to suddenly cartwheel arse-over-teakettle into the Potomac some fine morning, you know?”

A rather alarmed look spread across the fellah’s face.

“Oh, no! The tech who did the inspection? He’s ex-military.  And used to work at the Jeep place across the street before we bought it out.  He’s very particular about things and surely would have flagged any other equipment that needed looking at.”

Later, I realized the fellah was right.  For one thing, this inspector had also flagged a leak in my rear pinion seal and the need to service the front and rear differentials and transfer case, so he was certainly thorough.  For another, if there were something else wrong in the front suspension, I suspect he’d have been on it like a duck on a Junebug.  I dunno if these johnnies get some kind of finder’s fee, but the dealership certainly would have loved any excuse to whang me for another three or four hundred bucks if they could have found one.

Anyhoo, here we are.

Friends of the decanter should understand, by the bye, that ol’ Robbo is really only a fellaheen of a Jeep enthusiast and probably would be stoned to death by the purists if I ever showed my face at a Jeep Jamboree.  I love my Wrangler simply because she’s sporty-looking and fun to drive and I love the open air when all her sides are off.  I don’t for a moment pretend to adopt the “image” that goes with driving a Jeep, earned or otherwise.  And in all the thirteen years I’ve owned her, I doubt my Wrangler has ever actually rolled over anything but asphalt.

Indeed, I’m reminded of the incident last year when I brought her into the local gas station for her annual inspection.  I’d left the radio on – tuned to the Local Classickal Station – and the mechanic looked at me and asked with a smirk, “You off-road to this, bro?”

I laughed, winked, and said, “Ride of the Valkyries, man!”

He laughed, too.

I like to think we understood each other.

One other thing:  The past couple days sans wheels, Ol’ Robbo has been forced to return to commuting into the Imperial Swamp by metro. I hadn’t done this, really, for about the last five years, and had forgotten how completely hellish it is, especially now that summah has hit good and hard.  Never again will I even think about going back to mass transit on a regular basis.  Never.  Again.

UPDATE: Just so friends of the decanter don’t dismiss me as a Frasier (or worse, Niles) Crane over this post, let me remind you all again that I learned to drive when I was 12.  On a stick-shift.  Off-road.  On a ranch in the Hill Country of South-Central Texas.  So, there.

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