Hope Deflates


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I have joked that my life is a cross between a bad soap opera and an episode of Jerry Springer. There are times when I struggle to take my life seriously at all. Today was one of those days.

It started innocently enough. A friend and I headed out for an afternoon meeting. I was running late. I hate being late. For other, girlier reasons, I was crabby, as well. Being both crabby and late (and not able to find the stinking Midol that I knew was in my cursed purse), I was driving at approximately 800 mph while weaving in and out of traffic. At least, that is what my astute passenger reports. Suddenly – bumpa-ka-whappa-thumpita-thumpita-thumpita – the strangest, loudest noise I’ve ever heard a reasonably healthy car make. It didn’t pull at all, meaning it wasn’t a flat tire. Still, it sounded like I was dragging a live rhinoceros, so I turned on my flashers and pulled over.

We both got out and looked all around the car. Neither of us saw anything out of order. I laid flat on my stomach and checked out the underneath. No struggling wildlife. Finally, we figured that we had shaken something loose and agreed that perhaps the noise would go away. We got back in before frostbite could set in, and I tried to drive forward.

No, the noise was definitely still there. Very scary.

I found a little bit safer place to pull farther off the freeway, and this time we found the culprit (we must have just landed right the first time that we couldn’t see it) – the steel belting had completely shredded its way through the back driver’s side tire. I don’t know if it was the rhinoceros that caused such carnage, but this tire was toast. I am amazed that it still held air.

Making a snap decision, based on the air-holding capability of a very impressive rhino-munched tire, I decided to make a break for the off-ramp and pull into a parking lot. I have roadside assistance and I’m not afraid to use it.

The insurance lady was very nice and said that a fine gentleman was on his way to change out my tire. My friend and I bolted to the store where we waited in the blessed, blessed warmth for the service man’s arrival. I found my Midol and bought lots of chocolate.

The service man called when he was in the parking lot and we met up with him. He was very kind and efficient. He swapped out my tire in no time. I was concerned about the spare – which at some point had been repaired by my ex-husband, making it, much like everything he said or did, questionable. The service man thought it would be fine, given that it was holding air so far, and sent us on our way.

We made it less that a mile, then were attacked by an anaconda. Well, from the hissing I considered that perhaps that’s where the rhino went. You guessed it – the newly replaced spare was now completely flat.
Dreading the walk in below freezing temperatures, I called my insurance again. “Hi, I know I spoke to you about ½ an hour ago, and you sent a very efficient service man out to replace my tire – which he did – but now THAT one is flat.” We joked back and forth while weighing my options. Of course, given that I no longer had a spare (at least a non-rhino munched spare), I would have to be towed. Luckily all the money that I spent on insurance actually covered me for a tow. He would be there in about 45 minutes, she said.

We made a mad dash into the nearby mall, where we had a lovely lunch of pretzel dogs and lemonade and tried on some sparkly shoes. Soon the tow man called and we went to meet him by the car.

While hopping up and down in an attempt to keep our frozen blood flowing, we weighed our options. Both flat tires were non-repairable. The quote I got from neighboring tire joints – even the so-called discount place – were all over $100. I don’t like my car $100 worth, and I don’t have that kind of moolah lying around at any given moment. I told the very thoughtful tow guy of my dilemma, and he said, “So, what you are saying is you want a ghetto used tire place to replace it really cheap?” to which I answered with an emphatic, YES!

He went back to his truck and did a little research. He came back with a joint that could do a used tire for $30 – mounted, balanced and installed. I pointed to my nose and nodded with a huge smile.

Soon we piled into the cab of his tow truck with the amazing heaters blasting at least 90 degrees of wonderful, hot air. Of course I flirted shamelessly all the way there. Two flat tires in less than two hours – what a story!

But wait –there’s more…

As the tow guy backed my car off the truck, I noticed that the passenger-side rear tire had a giant screw in it.

Yes, folks – THREE flat tires in one day. Tack strips notwithstanding, this must be a new record.

Now, for those who do not know me well, I must explain here. I am the queen of flat tires. I average three a year. Seriously. Every. Single. Year. I have compared myself to others with similar driving habits. I actually know people that have never, in their entire lives, had a flat tire. This baffles me. I do not drive through construction zones and I do not hop curbs or drive on sidewalks in ‘Starsky & Hutch’ fashion – I simply have very bad luck with tires. I deal with it. I have a full-sized spare ready to go. I know how to wield a tire iron. I pay extra on my insurance so that I don’t have to. It is just one of those bonuses about being me.

This year, so far, the total count is nine. You think I am joking? I have receipts. Nine flat tires on one vehicle in one year. After today’s body count, and given that it is still early December, I am eying the front two tires with trepidation.

All told, I had an adventurous day. I had run-ins with rhinos, snakes, and frostbite. I flirted with a service guy, a tow guy, and four ghetto-used-tire-place guys, not to mention my friend who was stuck with me through the whole mess. I missed my meeting, but got some chocolate with chili peppers and pop rocks in it (would I kid?). I learned that people are generally good and want to help each other and, if asked (especially if you share your weird chocolate with them), will fix multiple flat tires and allow you to drive off into the sunset with no money down and the faith that you will return with the payment in cash (who carries cash?).

I came back with the cash and four hot chocolates and flirted my way into a back rub. Not a bad day.

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