The Flat Tire

August 29, 2010 at 12:22 pm 2 comments

When you’re in your 40s, your metabolism slows, your hearing goes, knees ache, your back goes out more than you do, disappointments can fill a pretty big trunk, and “hangovers hurt more than they used to.” But. There are certain benefits.

For example, my 20-something-year-old ear could never have recognized the creaky-rubby-subtly strange sound that a flat tire makes. As I backed out of the garage today, I knew without looking. But I looked. Yep, that slow leak I have been nursing since June turned into a fast leak overnight.

Completely. Utterly. Pancakely. Flat.

Annoying, yes. But, I was able to do a quick forage through my garage to find an industrial-strength extension cord and an air compressor. I had none of those things in my 20s—including the garage.

Again, in my 20s, I would have thought, “Eh, I’m taking it in to get inspected tomorrow, might as well just put in some air and head to the mall to go clothes shopping as planned.” But you know and I know, I would have ended up stranded, either in the mall parking lot or, worse, on the way to work in the morning. (I already need to be three places at once at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow. Sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck isn’t one of them.)

So, it’s Sunday. My only choice? Pep Boys.

I’ve gone there before. I know it doesn’t have the best reputation for car work, and I know it’s the expensive choice. But, it’s Sunday and, yeah, I do know better than to procrastinate on this, so I dropped off the car and walked to the mall from there.

Tangent. As I walked, I thought, “Huh, I just gave my car to a total stranger who didn’t give me a receipt of any kind. I mean, you get a sticker for your luggage, you get a little pink itemized list from the dry cleaner, you even get a little ticket if you check a hat. But. I just gave some kid, who is way too young to have his own garage or an ear for flat rubber, my car. Along with my keys, my address, and my garage door opener. Huh.”

Anyhoo, about an hour later, I walked back into Pep Boys. Had to wait in line behind a guy who was well into a not-so-happy discussion (with the kid who had taken my keys) about the work they’d done on his car.

Not boding well.

About 10 minutes further into that discussion, another employee stepped up to the register to help. I told him what kind of car. He tap-tap-tapped on a keyboard and shook his head. I gave him my name. Tap-tap-tap. Again, nothing. He said, “You got an oil change, right?” I explained no, a tire repair. Tap-tap-tap. Nope. I said, haltingly, “It’s not where I parked it? So? I assume? It’s done?” Uh-oh.

But, then, he turned away from the computer, took a look around, and voila, came up with my keys. (Well, you know, I didn’t really think they’d gone joy-riding or had sent someone to ransack my house, but, still, I was a wee bit relieved.) He handed the keys to me along with an envelope and said, “Okay, you’re all set.”

I don’t know a lot about fixing cars but I have had years of experiences that have taught me the chances of fiasco, the multiplying frustrations of a lemon, and the potential for rude, often chauvenistic, frequently duplicitous, snickering-snarling gremlin antics of the average unknown grease monkey. I stood there, credit card in hand, arm extended, and he was turning to the next person in line. And I didn’t know what to think.

“Uh, excuse me, but, I haven’t paid yet.”

“Nope. You’re all set.”

Arm still extended. Brain scrambling. Vocabulary stunted.“But . . . Wha-? Huh? ”

Apparently other-kid had proactively finagled some paperwork in my absence and signed me up for some kind of rewards program, which made me eligible to get the work done for free. He did what? The program is huh? The repair was free?

Free? Really? You’re sure? I can, just, uh, go? Really? (I still don’t understand it, but, yes, really.)

And I thought finding pants that fit in under an hour was the most amazing part of my day.

Pleasant surprises are like a mini life preserver. Had any of your own recently?

Entry filed under: Life Preservers. Tags: , , , .

Dear Nancy Pelosi, The Packaging People Must Be Stopped

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ken Jordan  |  August 29, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    I was pleasantly surprised by the use of pancake as an adverb.
    My amusement was Kennywoodly.
    Bill Murray


  • 2. boatdrinkbaby  |  August 30, 2010 at 1:57 am

    hahaha — thanks “Bill”!



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