In the Aug. 22 column, reader Raena Price-Kaufman alerted us to a roadside scam. A man pulled up beside her vehicle on Interstate 295, gesturing at her. He said, "Your wheel is about to fall off," she wrote. It was 9 p.m. She pulled over, as instructed, and the stranger offered to "fix" the wobbly tire for $500. She gave him $50, which was all she had.
"The man was very friendly and pleasant, but I believe that he perpetrated a scam on me," she wrote. "It might be helpful for your readers to know that such people are on our roads."
Dr. Gridlock recommended that no one -- particularly a lone female driver at night -- pull over at a stranger's behest. Now comes another such warning.
Almost a Victim
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
A few months ago, I, too, almost fell victim to a con man who claimed my wheel was about to fall off. One morning, while stopped at a red light on Maryland Avenue NE, a man pulled beside me and said my front tire was wobbling badly and looked like it might fall off.
He, too, said he was a Goodyear mechanic and could take a look at it. I was wary of him, but my car had indeed been riding poorly, and I had a 40-mile drive ahead of me.
I decided to pull over -- only after I got to the busy parking lot of a CVS store.
The man shook the "offending" wheel vigorously and offered to "fix" it right there for a fee "less than what Goodyear charges." I knew then he was a fraud.
A subsequent alignment and balance at a "legit" tire store fixed the problem.
Please remind your readers, especially women driving alone, to beware of such con men. If you're concerned, drive to the nearest service station. Better yet, become a member of AAA, or purchase a breakdown plan so you won't be so vulnerable.
Having a cell phone and a membership in an auto club may save untold roadside inconvenience -- and possible harm. For every good Samaritan, there may be a predator. We don't know that every encounter with the "Goodyear" man has ended as safely as in these two stories.
Parking at Huntington
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
How does one ever find a parking space at the Huntington Metro station after 9 a.m. on weekdays? My husband and I are retired and used to take Metro through the week to see the sights and shop. Now we need to see ailing relatives in Silver Spring and can't do so unless someone drops us off at Metro or unless we ride on the weekend. Any suggestions?
Metrorail has never been busier, with 700,000 to 800,000 trips a day. Parking, never plentiful to begin with, is tighter than ever. Take a bus to the station if you can, or ride Metro to Silver Spring on weekends. Anyone else have thoughts?
More Symbols on the Seal?
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I propose that the Fairfax County seal be redesigned to incorporate more representative symbols, such as pickups with ladders on top, or simply dump trucks. What do you think?
Marshall L. Main
How about bulldozers, with a backdrop of townhouses? (No trees visible, and no towns, either.)
Decals Supporting Troops
I drove all over the country in recent months, and in every state I saw yellow decals on the back of vehicles. The decals were shaped like a ribbon and said, "Support Our Troops."
As a Vietnam vet who encountered hostility or indifference during and after my tours, this seems like a nice gesture of support for our troops, at home and abroad.
My question is, where do you get one?
Name That State
A mini brain teaser: In my travels, I entered State X three times, and exited it three times, all in the same afternoon. This was while driving from one metropolitan area to another, in more or less a straight line, and never turning back.
What was State X? (Extra credit if you don't use maps.)
Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.
You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers e-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org or faxes at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.