Lifestyle humor

Whine and the Art of Automobile Maintenance

September 15, 2016 • By 25 1 1108

I’m an excellent driver. Really. I’ve been driving for 21 years and I’ve never gotten into an accident. With another car, I mean. I won’t count rocks or trees if you don’t. But even though I’m great behind the wheel, I’m admittedly a bit clueless when it comes to anything more complicated than an oil change. And it does get a bit complicated trying to aim the car over the pit.

To illustrate my point: I was trying to think of the word “pit” and had this conversation just now with my husband:

Me: What do you call the hole that I drive over —

Kyle: Pothole

Me: No, you didn’t let me finish. The hole that I drive over at the instant oil change place.

Kyle: You’re not going to pretend to your readers that you actually do that yourself, are you?

So with that in mind, it was no surprise that one day when I heard a thump as I was driving, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. I quickly went over the possibilities in my head. Rock? Maybe. Pothole? Never. Squirrel? Gross. When in doubt, my motto is to keep going and pretend it never happened. So I happily did that for exactly ten more feet until KER-WHUMP.

I might have even ignored that, had I still been able to drive. But alas, now I was stuck. And when I’m stuck, the first thing I do is call Kyle, who is always very supportive as I’ve already shown. I calmly let him know that while I was driving I heard a thump (I wisely left out the KER-WHUMP) and now the car wouldn’t move.

Kyle: Did you get out of the car to see what happened?

Me: Obviously! {Getting out and checking} My tire’s flat.

He reminded me that I had an air compressor in the trunk and talked me through hooking it up to my tire. But after a while, I reported that nothing seemed to be happening. Kyle asked if I had checked the tire completely. I glanced down at it and shrugged. Um, it’s flat… But no, he wanted me to examine the tire to see why the air compressor wasn’t able to pump up the tire.

So I squatted down again on the side of the road (this is as good a time as any to mention that I was seven months pregnant) and winced a bit when I saw the gaping hole in the tire that had somehow escaped my notice when I was plugging in the compressor.

Me: We appear to have a slight complication.

Kyle: I’ll call a tow truck.

When Bob the tow guy arrived several hours later (I might be slightly exaggerating here, but it was definitely not a thirty-minutes-or-it’s-free operation) he was very nice and not at all condescending about the fact that I was on the side of the road trying to blow up a tire with a very visible gash in it. Oh, wait, I’m kidding. Of course he totally was.

Bob put my spare tire on while I pretended to be useful, and then I finally made it to the tire shop. A slightly friendlier guy than Bob gave me a list of tire options (why even bother keeping anything in stock except the cheapest option?) and then changed my tire while I sat in the waiting room so I didn’t have to pretend to be useful.

At one point, Tire Guy came back holding a part of my car in his hands. He claimed that this rim, which looked perfectly fine to me, was bent so badly that it would throw my tires out of alignment. And this would be a VERY BAD THING for some undisclosed reason. Yet for the low, low price of $700, he could switch it out for one apparently made of gold, pronto. I politely declined, to which he reacted as if I’d just decided to play rim roulette.

Once the tire was changed and I was on my way, everything was fine. For two whole days. This time I was happily zipping along the expressway when I heard another thump. This, thankfully, was not followed by a KER-WHUMP, but a thump while going 70 mph is always a bit disconcerting. I limped along the shoulder to the nearest exit so I could get out of the car and examine the damage. I was hoping it was a squirrel this time, but as you might have already guessed: Another flat. Same. Fucking. Tire.

I raced back to the tire shop as fast as I could. This was not very fast, since I had to keep stopping every five minutes to use the air compressor, which managed to be somewhat effective this time. It was not convenient, but I succeeded in avoiding another date with Tow-truck Bob.

I strode into the tire shop indignantly, right up to the counter to the same guy who had helped me just two days before. “Your stupid tire keeps deflating on me.” (Imagine this sentence with three expletives and sixty decibels.) Tire Guy assured me that he didn’t sell defective tires but agreed to take a look anyway.

Tire Guy: Yep, that’s flat all right.

Me: ….

I returned to the waiting room to sit in self-righteous anger (no defective tires, indeed!) while he changed the tire. Moments later, Tire Guy returned in a triumph of his own, holding a four-inch nail that had wedged itself sideways into the tire, tearing just enough of a jagged hole that it was beyond repair. In a coincidence that I would not even think to make up, I had legitimately blown two driver’s side front tires in two days.

Tire Guy: That will be another $250.

Me: #*@%!$#*!!!

Now, I’m not the type to cry to get out of a speeding ticket (only because I’ve never been pulled over; remember, I’m an excellent driver) but when Tire Guy told me that I owed him the same amount of money again because I had FAILED TO ASK FOR A WARRANTY on the first tire, well, that was a bit too much for me. I sobbed that if he’d only offered me the warranty two days before, I would have definitely paid for it then (lies, all lies) and that should exempt me from the cost of another tire.

Now, I was not proud that my pregnancy hormones freaked him out and in order to shut me up he agreed to only charge me $30 for the labor to change the tire. I was thrilled! Crying works, people. And if you clutch your pregnant belly piteously (a beer belly works here too, probably) then so much the better.

Oh, and three years later, I’m still driving with that rim, too. No issues, Tire Guy, thank you very much. None, anyway, that I’m not comfortable just ignoring.