Two Flats Don’t Make A Round

At least, not without the intervention of some air pressure.

Yesterday was supposed to be a pretty routine day. David and I had planned on going to Nobu for sushi, after having been foiled earlier in the week by the unavailability of parking near the restaurant. The lot was jammed because so many dozens and dozens of baseball fans decided to go to a nearby sports-and-billiards bar. Sushi was “in the cards.”

We made it happen, but not without some difficulties. As I was driving along in my usual pre-work daze, the car started to make an ominous “whumpa-whumpa” noise. The steering didn’t pull to one side or the other, but the “whumpa” kept getting worse. I was in such a state, I couldn’t spot where the emergency flasher button was on the dash – I’ve only been driving the RAV for, what, 5 months? Duh. So I slowed down and kept driving, because it felt like I still had some pressure in the whumpafied tire, and I was only about a half a mile from work. Made it to the near end of the parking lot and walked in from there.

So then before lunch I called Triple AAA – the best automotive investment we’ve ever made, frankly. They advised they’d call my cell when the driver was close, for final directions. Sadly and ungeekily, I was not able to provide GPS coordinates, but I doubt any of their drivers have GPS, anyway.

Just as I was finishing my rather delicious Friday special (it’s either “popcorn” shrimp or “fish and chips” and alternates every week), I got the call from the AAA dispatcher. Headed out to the parking lot and waited for the guy to come in sight. It was a lovely, warm sunny October day, too. Ah, there he came at last.

He had some trouble getting his jack, and then my jack, to work properly with the somewhat-high ground clearance of the RAV. Also, you have to place the jack precisely where the manual says, or jackie no liftie. Finally, he succeeded in getting the thing hiked up high enough and switched out the tires.

The old tire had a chunk of some sort of broken plastic debris with a piece of metal like a jack or a plug-in; it wasn’t sharp but the force of being driven over had given it enough “oomph” to penetrate the center of the tire, right between the treads. Damn, and the tires were new this year, too.

The spare was from the previous set of wheels, and appeared to have plenty of pressure, but as soon as it was put on (sans “VRRR! VRRRRRRR! noises) it went right down to the ground, too. Dammit.

The driver regretted that he didn’t have a little battery-powered air pump on his truck. Well, dammit, why not? That would have been perfect? But no.

So after some grumbling and near-whining along the lines of “I don’ wanna call Triple AAA and wait for them again in the dark and get towed to Sears Tires and ride in the cab with the driver after work,” David and I eventually decided on a reasonable solution.

He came and got me and we went to dinner at Nobu and ate much sushi.

Then the next day, after a really enjoyable morning’s “snooze, snuggle, and play” with Riley, David drove me over to my car with our handy battery-powered airpump. Take that, unprepared Triple AAA driver! It inflated the spare well enough that I could make it to Sears, but I had a few scary moments when I realized the rear door wasn’t securely latched, and the flat tire that was stashed back there kept knocking into it every time I accellerated. Yikes!

But I made it to Sears in one piece and without causing a nasty and totally stupid accident. Dropped it off, got a latte in the mall, and watched shoppers for about an hour, and the job was all done. I had them do an oil change while I was at it.

The total cost? About $22. Turns out the tires were under warranty, a fact the Sears guy verified before they did anything. I only paid for the oil change, something that I’d been putting off doing for at least 3 months.

The shocking, shocking mess in my car, which I’d also been ignoring and putting off dealing with for months was an embarassment when the Triple AAA guy and the Sears guy were doing their respective once-overs, and so after picking up the RAV I got it washed (sort of – the cycle was truncated for some reason) and vacuumed it out, then went home and cleaned out every bit of junk, paper, old cardboard, and congealed mess from every interior surface.

A casualty of this cleaning process: the receipt for the “car wash,” which I had kept aside so I could go into the attached Kwik-E-Mart and request a refund or a do-over with a “real” wash (one that went beyond just the initial rinse, and actually included detergent and… washing). I was vacuuming the front seats when I saw it flutter for a nanosecond in the maw of the vacuum hose before it vanished with a “th-th-th-WUPP!!” So. No do-over for me.

I had a tube of “car protectorant/cleaner wipes” that I’d never used, and by the time I was done, it was about half gone. Then I vacuumed again with the much more powerful shop-vac at home, and sprayed all the fabric with Febreze. Why? Because I’m in the evil, evil habit of buying fast-food burgers for lunch and eating them in the car, which meant the car didn’t smell too good in addition to being full of dust, congealed gunk, discarded boxes I’d never gotten around to recycling, and discarded wrappers and receipts.

Now my car is clean inside and out and is no longer an embarassment.

Plus, it even smells clean! Yayyy!

This task was made a lot more pleasant by the fact that Chicago Public Radio was running a marathon of This American Life stories, plus this week’s new broadcast, which was about a study done a year ago that claimed fairly convincingly that 100,000 civilians had been killed by Coalition forces since the beginning of the war, up to that point.

The website “Iraqi Body Count” makes it only 30,000 up to now. Either way, that’s an obscenely high number.

Even rounded up.

Anyway, I listened to several stories on the car radio as I worked industriously in the driveway at home. The sun shone bright and warm, the little bitty yellow leaves from the locust trees blew in and out of the car’s open doors, and I contentedly wiped away grunge and yak and pfaff from every surface I could reach.

So in spite of the fairly crappy beginning, it’s been a pretty good weekend so far.

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2 thoughts on “Two Flats Don’t Make A Round

  1. Gin- I think you may have accidently posted a sentence from something else into the beginning of your story. It definitely increases the interest though. I had trouble making it through the first few sentences – wondering how the Pentagon, Gitmo, and UN are related to sushi. -mitch

  2. As for the “fast food wrappers”….. I can remember old dried hamburger and fries under you bed!!!! Some things never change.. 🙂

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