Saturday, September 18, 2010

do not tell me what I can and cannot do when I rock

Three days ago I sat at a traffic light in Lexington, blasting Lifehouse's "Everything" from my speakers, because a.) I love that song, and b.) my windows were down and I wanted to drown out the city sounds. Suddenly out of my peripheral ear I heard a guy's voice, and I looked up to see said guy leaning out of his truck window next to me. I thought it might be a repeat of the time I met my future husband, but it wasn't. This guy was shouting at me, "You have a flat tire."
"I have a flat tire?" I questioned, as if some strange man would lean out his window and shout at me, "Hey, that lady three cars down has a flat tire."
He answered affirmatively, and I thanked him without a good attitude, then drove over to a neighborhood street and called my dad.

Since the tire obviously wasn't completely flat (seeing as how I didn't even notice it was lacking air), Dad told me to take it to a gas station and fill it with air, then drive to a Wal-Mart or some other mechanical place and ask them to fix it. So I pulled up to a Shell gas station and saw a big sign that said, "Air, 75 cents." George Harrison was not kidding when he wrote "Taxman." It's air. It's all around us. We breathe it every day; sometimes more than once. I should've just placed my mouth over the nozzle on the tire and exhaled really hard. (You can tell I know very little about cars, and it's about to get a great deal more obvious.)

As I lifted the gun (because it had a trigger), I saw a sign warning, "Injury may occur. If overfilled, tire may explode." I stared at the sign with the weapon in my hand, my eyes wide, watching a slideshow in my mind of the possible ways I could be decapitated or permanently blinded by my exploding tire.

Did you know they make gauges to determine how much air needs to be in a tire? I didn't.

I kept one hand in front of my face, as if that would protect me from the rubbery shrapnel, and squeezed air into the tire, occasionally stepping back to measure its rotundness against the other healthy tires. "Eyeballing" is a very accurate method that will soon make it into all the indexes of university science textbooks.

Wal-Mart's tire service was closed, but the greasy people there told me to try Chevron.
"I don't know where that is," I replied.
"Across from KFC."
"We have a KFC?"

On my way down the street Dad called, and I told him I filled the tire with air and was on my way to Chevron.
"Did you use the gauge to see how much air you put in?" Dad asked.
Suddenly I remembered that long proby thing with numbers up and down it that I used to use in the car when I was bored and pretending to be a doctor. But I very slowly answered, "No." He could've told me that that was for checking air BEFORE I checked the air.

I found the Chevron (and the KFC), whose sign was almost unreadable behind the grime. I pulled up to the garage and stepped out of my car as a tattooed man with a cigarette hanging out of the side of his mouth and a gut that made his pants sag walked up to me. I should learn to at least pretend like I know what I'm doing in situations like this, but instead I said something like, "I don't know what I'm doing." I probably mentioned that my dad told me to come here, too, and anytime a girl mentions that her dad told her to do something, the potential to be hit on or treated like a child increases by a baker's dozen.

Cigarette Man (shortened to Cig) felt my tire, measured the tire pressure with a gauge (glad somebody told him), and said, "You got a leak, baby girl." Baby girl? Yeah, I definitely shouldn't have mentioned my dad. He took off my tire, chatting amiably in an equally grimy southern accent (I found out he hates Wisconsin and that he was in "the service," though which service I'm not really sure). Then he sprayed soapy water on the tire to find out where the leak was, and I was fascinated by the spewing bubbles coming from the hole. Finally he stuffed a large metal probe into the hole to make it bigger (seems counter-productive, doesn't it?), before twisting a long soggy cloth that looked like a pre-chewed Slim Jim around some plyers and shoving it into the hole. Problem solved.

Cig put my tire back on and told me, "I'll give this to you for ten instead of fifteen," he said.
"Oh, okay," I said, taken off'guard. "Thanks!" Yeah, definitely a good idea to mention my dad.

But when I went to pay for the tire, the lady at the front desk heard what I'd gotten done and said, "Ten dollars, sweetie." Really. Ten instead of fifteen, huh, Cig? I'm sure.


Anonymous said...

Your blog posts complete me.

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