The Tire’s Tale

 

When we last left out little tire, it was sitting in a parking lot, awaiting the morning when it would be driven to WalMart and replaced. That’s where I picked up at around 12:30 this morning. I had just come from lunch (I was paranoid about something else going wrong, didn’t want to spend all day dealing with a rogue tire on an empty stomach) and headed toward the parking lot where my car was. Got in, started the car…and again could not get it to move. What it felt like was that the tire wasn’t even rotating – maybe it was on too tight? Maybe something else? It didn’t look flat. But I coulnd’t move the car and watch the tire for rotation at the same time. So I pulled the jack out again – thought if I could get the tire off the ground, I could physically try to rotate it and see if that was the problem.

Over the course of the last two days, I have learned two facts. These are they:

Fact 1: I know perfectly well how to change a tire.
Fact 2: Regardless of said knowledge, I cannot physically change a tire all by myself – at least, not without a great deal of struggle and potentially strained muscles.

So I’m struggling to get the tire up off the ground, in my pretty paisley skirt, probably looking just this side of helpless, when someone (I guessed he was a fellow student) asked if I needed help. I have little to no feminist pride even on a good day, and it just didn’t seem good common sense to refuse.  So no sooner had I said yes,  I could sure use some help than someone else pulls up. (This is, like, the friendliest town on earth. I would never have ever guessed.) And this guy? An APSU maintanence worker, driving a quite lovely restored Camaro with a stunning paintjob (which I later learned he’d done himself). It looked circa 1980 or so, and lovingly taken care of. “Yeah,” I thought. “Here is a guy who can help me.”

So I explain the situation to both of them, and the maintanence guy takes a look at the tire. The lack of movement and awful sound it made were caused by the side of the tire rubbing hard against a part of the brake. No way I could drive that way without doing some serious and costly damage. So Student Guy – whom I have now learned is actually Visiting Professor Guy, and also named Pat – says the following to me and APSU Maintanence Guy: “So, it looks like our only option is to just take her tire somewhere, ask them to replace it and put it on the wheel, and then bring it back here ourselves and put it on, since we can’t get the car to them. Where would be a good place to do that?”

Maintanence Guy gives us the name of a tire place about a mile away that does a lot of work with APSU – and gives a pretty good discount to faculty and students. Rock on. He then goes off on his merry way, telling us to flag him or any of his blue-shirted colleagues down, should we need any help. So Pat and I decide to go back to his office, call this place, and then head out there to get my tire. On the way back to his office, I learn that Pat is not only a visiting professor, but a visiting music professor. Percussion, to be exact; he’s filling in for Dr Steinquest for a semester. So here I am, cute, semi-helpless student being rescued by a young (music!) professor-type guy in wire-rim glasses and bright red Converse sneakers — I swear I think I ruptured my spleen in a valiant effort to not just sit down and die laughing. (“Young teacher…the subject..of schoolgirl…” yeah, you know the rest.)

Anyhoo, we get to his office, he calls this tire place, directions and price quotes are given (much less than I thought, which is great!) and we head off. Unfortunately, there are snags. The exact tire that is on my car is out of stock, but they have something similar – with a different tread pattern. Will that cause a problem? Not if it’s on a back tire. On the front, however, the difference in tread pattern and wear might possibly cause the car to pull to one side. The solution? Take the good tire from the back of the car, move it to the front, and put the new tire on the back. Egad.

Also, the price he gives me is about $40 higher than what I was given on the phone. So after a few minutes of the politest haggling I’ve ever seen, Pat somehow convinces this guy to give me the price I was quoted, without ever directly asking that he do so. Wow.

We get the tire, get it back to school, I assist in what has become an on-going car surgery, and eventually all is well. And it only took two days, seven people, and four tires to do it!!

So, all in all, I got a good new tire for a pretty good price, my faith in humanity was somewhat restored, and I made a cool (and hot) new friend. Not a bad ending to the story, eh?

car trauma

So, after I got all that work done today, I decided to reward myself with a trip to WalMart; the plan was to get some much-craved chocolate chip cookies. I got to my car and drove half a block before I came to a realization that I really really didn’t want to prove correct. Unforunately, when I pulled into a parking lot and examined the situation, I was right: my tire was flat. I’ve never actually changed a tire alone before, let alone at 10 o’clock at night lit only by street lamps, but hey, I do know how it’s done. So I’m dealing with that and I have the tire off when this woman and what I’m guessing is her daughter stop and ask if I need help. Sure, why not! Only, they had less of an idea what they were doing than I did. Very helpful. So then someone else – male this time – asks if we need help, and stops too. So I stand back and let him wrangle with the tire. (The ladies offered to stay so I wouldn’t be alone with this strange but hopefully helpful guy. Nice of them.) While he’s doing that, I’m simultaneously trying to help and trying not to get in his way, while being proselytised by this girl who’s apparnetly just come from a youth group meeting.  I dodged her questions as politely as possible — I’m touched by your concern and the show of faith, really, it’s great, now could you please pick a moment when I am not sick, standing out in the cold night air, and trying to salvage my only means of transportation?

Eventually a fifth member joins our party (at this point I’m ready to say forget the tire, let’s go hunt dragon treasure), and he just happens to be a member of Studen Campus Patrol. So between the five of us (ok, the three who are actually doing anything) we get the tire off, the spare tire, and…find that it doesn’t fit. The tires on my car are the factory tires; spare tire obviously isn’t. It really. Won’t. Fit.

So we’ve determined that I’m just going to have to leave the car up on the jack and go see if the flat tire will hold air/can be patched at all/whatever. We can’t find the hole. So, about this time, the first three members of my little entourage leave, the student patrol guy stays, and a campus police officer stops by. He insists in attempting to put my non-fitting spare tire on – just wouldn’t believe his own student patrol sidekick – and, when that doesn’t work, he actually does something incredibly wonderful. His own partol car – which is due to be scrapped in a few months, as it has been in a bad wreck – is, in fact, a Ford Taurus. As is my own. So he gives me his spare tire. How cool is that? We get it put on, I get in the car to make sure it will drive…and it won’t. Because it’s flat too. (Seriously? Seriously.) Luckily, the police guy had hung around. So we take that tire back off, leave the car up on the jack, pile all the tires and all the people into his car and go ’round to the gas station with free air to try to help both tires. During this process, I stay in the car and try to thaw. Have I mentioned I’m sick? And this has taken nearly an hour, up to this point? Yeah. My throat’s a little raw.

So we fill my tire up with air – finding the gaping hole in the side wall in the process – fill up the spare, and head back to my car. Get the spare back on – it works this time! – get me all driven back to my dorm, and here I am. Cold, tired, and cookie-less.