The World According to Steinbeck

S M Chen
5 min readOct 9, 2021

So I am on the road again. Sort of.

Not in the sense of truly being on the road.

In that, to many, perhaps most, this expression ‘on the road’ implies a road trip.

What I do is work away from home, which isn’t quite the same thing.

Where I work is not within commuting distance, so I stay at a hotel close to the work site.

In general, that has worked out fairly well.

Earlier this week, however, when I started the car after breakfast at the hotel, I became immediately aware of a roaring sound.

Not unlike what some drivers (mainly male, mainly young) deliberately aim for, in their unspoken wish to be noticed.

The Bard wrote about them in “Macbeth,” Act V, Scene V: “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Law enforcement has targeted such people, posting signs such as this: “Loud exhausts will be ticketed.”

The sound seemed to be coming immediately beneath me, and I was initially mystified.

I didn’t have a lot of time to cogitate, however, as I needed to be at work soon.

So, with some trepidation, I gingerly moved the car onto the road, hoping I could make it to my destination.

The town in question is not familiar to me.

It’s about 90 miles from where I live.

What to do?

I’m familiar with Pep Boys.


There happened to be a store not far from work.

I made an online appointment, then called them.

I mused: What could have happened?

The car was fine the day before. I didn’t bump anything with force when I parked.

Then, gradually, bad thoughts crowded my mind.

What if someone had stolen my catalytic convertor?

That might prove to be a real headache.

Not only the cost of replacement, but how to ensure it wouldn’t happen again?

I happen to drive a car which is stolen frequently, and not only for parts but for that, too.