Flat Tire

“Good God! What the F— was that?”

I was in the car alone—on my way to pick up the soccer carpool—when I hit a pothole the size of Montana. I only had two girls tonight, so I drove the sedan rather than the SUV-soccer-mobile. It was along my regular route to the high school, which I’ve driven a hundred times in the past few months.

I swear, that pothole came out of nowhere.

Was there an earthquake last night I didn’t feel? Did some construction vehicle drop a load in the middle of the road? What the hell causes a crater that large to appear so suddenly?

I want to make it very clear that I wasn’t the least bit distracted when driving. I wasn’t talking on the phone, texting or changing the radio station. In fact, I was in a pleasant mood, freshly showered after a double workout and an attitude readjustment after a day filled with angst. For once, no one had changed “my” radio station from NPR to the local Top 40 or the satellite Howard Stern show (gross-me-out!). I looked forward to seeing my daughter, hearing about her day, and talking about our Thanksgiving plans.

And then, just over a mile from home: Ka BLAM!

My front left tire hit this meteorite impact area, and it sounded like a TNT explosion. My car sounded off too. The dashboard lit up. Its first red alert indicated a “tire pressure” warning, which I momentarily read to mean: “Hey woman, you hit a pot hole that knocked the snot out of your tire.”

But I already knew that.

Ten seconds later, the alarm went off a second time. The bright red letters read: “Tire DAMAGE.” I pulled over immediately. I didn’t want to be the idiot who continued driving on a flat tire only to cause rim damage or whatever.

Instead, I became the idiot who didn’t know how to change her tire.

Heaven help me, I haven’t changed a tire since I was in college and driving a ’63 Dodge Dart, which was when I developed a revolving door supply of fifteen-dollar retreads. I suppose it’s fair to say I’ve been spoiled with a series of luxury, well-maintained cars. Okay, okay. Shut up! So I’ve driven my share of BMWs, Lexus and Mercedes. That’s not the point. The point is, I opened my trunk to find that jacks have changed!

Being the excellent student I’ve been my entire life, I resorted to the manual and learned how to do everything from locating the trap door in my new car to the spare tire to the tool kit, which impressively included protective canvas gloves. I unloaded everything, continued reading, and then uttered a helpless, “huh?”

Luckily, it was at this moment when a good Samaritan, a clean-cut, red-haired man named “Keith,” came along in a Lexus without a hood. He stopped and asked me the five most desired words to a sedan-driving damsel in distress: “Do you need a hand?”

Keith had never before seen a new-fangled jack like the one I presented, but with one look at my manual and an explanation as to why he was wearing greased-stained overalls with flowers embroidered upon them (he’d just finished installing a new motor on his Lexus and the overalls belonged to his wife); that man had my car jacked up and the spare tire in place in record time.

Long story short: the soccer girls were picked up shortly after practice and had no clue what it took to get them. Meanwhile, my husband, who was miles away in our other vehicle, stopped what he was doing to get to my side. Unfortunately for him, he arrived just as Keith finished the job. He was exhausted from dropping all his afternoon plans (and bless him for that), but I rationalized for both of us because of God sending Keith, who saved him from reading the manual and dealing with this foreign car jack. Keith, by the way, didn’t even bother to wear the kit-provided gloves to protect his hands from grease. I gave him a handshake anyway. Who wouldn’t?

I’m certain no one will rescue us from the expense of replacing that wide Michelin tire, which upon inspection, was definitely damaged by pothole impact. Insurance? Forget about it. Pima County? Huh! Doubt it.

Moral of the story: Tanque Verde Drivers Beware! Northbound Solider Trail Road in Tucson. North of Limberlost, south of Synder. Pot-hole. Butt-hole.

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