Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Adventures of Indoor Boy: Indoor Boy Gets a Flat

I have an irrational fear of parking too far away from the curb. This waking nightmare culminates in me walking out to my car to find a massive scrape along the length of my car and my side-view mirror dangling like a pinata. Maybe it's because SP's tires were slashed for no particular reason*. Another reason is the fact that LK drives a Toyota FJ Cruiser. If you haven't seen an FJ Cruiser, envision a feeder bus with a roof rack. Its a nice car to be sure**, but whenever I park across the street from it, I feel a bit uneasy.

To overcome this uneasiness, I've developed the foolhardy habit of nudging the curb when I park along the street, just to be absolutely sure that any buffoon screaming down Amsden St will have to go make a conscious effort to take out my mirror. Unfortunately, in the wintertime this usually means I can only open my door 3 inches before I meet a snow drift. Climbing out through your back seat is a small price to pay for this peace of mind. Until today.

Today*** I kissed the curb with a little extra vigor, and I knew it. I just knew it. Any lingering doubts were dashed when I opened my door and heard the unmistakable whisper of a dying tire. Knowing there was nothing to be done, I kicked it in a half-hearted attempt at euthanasia and went inside. After recruiting JL for a 'second opinion', he verified my suspicion. The tire was 'fucked'.  

Next came the humbling task of removing the lifeless rubber carcass and replacing it with something that would be better suited on a Power Wheel. For this I also recruited JL. After a moment of panic, we fortuitously discovered that the nice folks at Hyundai thoughtfully included a jack and a lug wrench (yes I had to look up the name of it). Maybe all car companies do this. I don't know. As I said, I've never had a flat. Due to my penchant for parking as close the curb as physically possible, jacking up the car was quite exciting.  JL and I tried about 5 different permutations of spinning the metal bar (all of which precipitated in scraped, bloody knuckles) before we (JL) found an efficient method. From here it was virtually a cake walk. If said cake has molten lava icing and you're barefoot.    

I Google Mapped a few tire places nearby and inched down Mass Ave, trying to convert 80kph (the maximum allowable speed on a spare tire****) to mph. It's 50, which is plenty fast on Mass Ave. However, once it becomes clear that all the tire stores on Mass Ave are closed and the one dude you were able to catch before he locked up directs you to Waltham (down RTE 2, Speed Limit 55), 50mph becomes a bit of a handicap. I had the presence of mind to ask him about the limitations of the donut before I went on my way. The exchange went something like this:

"Is it safe to take RTE 2 on a spare tire?"

"Compared to the 45 or whatever they say? Yeah. Heck, I've driven 80 on donuts before and nothin' happened."

Pause. At this point he presumably realized that telling me to drive double the recommended speed might constitute a liability on his part. So he quickly added:

"Well, I mean, don't be stupid about it"

This did little to assuage my fears. This is where I started to wonder if anyone had ever gotten a flat tire on their spare tire, and if that would be sufficient cause to call out of work for the rest of the week.

As it was, I drove like my Nana for 3 miles down RTE 2. Once arriving at the Tire Shop, I began playing the game of 'Don't-Let-Them-Know-How-Clueless-You-Are', a favorite past-time of mine. A portly gentleman recommended a Goodyear tire for $120. Knowing nothing about tires but street-smart (or paranoid) enough to know not to take the first suggestion. I coolly stammered: 

"Do I have any other options?"

In retrospect, that's like holding up an apple at Market Basket and asking if they have any other fruit. Of course they have other tires. He patiently listed off three other tires, one for $97, the rest considerably more. He then proceeded to enter lecture-mode where he referenced other tires that he may-or-may-not have "in the back". All of these sounded like they had been banished to the Island of Misfit Tires. Of course, playing the safety card is a slam-dunk so I bought the $97 Uniroyal blah-blah-blah and some mustachioed Carhartt-model named Mike threw it on my car while I read Sports Illustrated.

I made an afternoon of it and went to D'Angelos and Trader Joe's afterwards. I tend to do this when I spend an absurd amount of money I wasn't planning on spending. I go to D'Angelo's and pretend I ate a fancy dinner and go to Trader Joe's and pretend I spent $100 on groceries and Voila! Instead of spending $100 curb-stomping my car, I spent $100 on necessities. That's much easier to swallow. And what did I do when I parked on Amsden St again? Parked a cool 3-feet away from the curd, and looked up how much new side-mirrors cost.   

*I contest that he was parked too far from the curb. Or maybe SS's ex-neighbors are passive agressive psychopaths.

** It even has an inclinometer! Very helpful if gravity becomes suspended on the way to the grocery store.

***Literally 8 minutes after seeing a shredded tire on 93S and remarking "I've never had a flat. How dumb do you have to be to not run over metal shit?"


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