Saturday, March 13, 2010

How Dead Tires Kept Me From Karla The Kruel

It is the most human of dichotomies; do something really intelligent but then do something incredibly stupid. Because I live out in the outer edges of the Boondocks, and as an aside I wonder why the Boons would need shipping infrastructure, anyway, I do things that will assure I am not totally screwed if things go wrong. No, in fact I have not forgotten the grass catcher incident, and will be exceedingly grateful when certain other people do.

And we're walking, and we're walking…


Anyway, there I am, in reasonably clear weather, standing in the middle of an asphalt parking lot, and looking at a flat tire. Also, in Valdosta, there are people who sell tires. The set of tires I have on the truck right now were put on in 2006. They have seventy one thousand miles on them. Yes, as a matter of fact I do keep up with such things. But because I am such a damn boy scout and am always prepared, I also own a portable air compressor, operated via the 12 volt port in the truck that allows me to pump the tire back up. As an aside, having a portable air compressor in your truck is a damn good idea. The downside is tires die. There is a time for everything to become part of the past. Tires are part of the natural order of things. They go from being part of transportation to being swings, and if that isn't a human metaphor I'm not sure what is. I pump the dead tire up and back to life and head home.

Incidentally, just so you have all the information here I've been pumping this same tire up for, oh, one every week, for I'd say, three or four months. Tires will talk to you when you're on the road and as I drive home these tires no longer sound good. I've gotten stuck in mud twice in the last couple of months which means the tread is gone, and I've squealed the tires taking off from the inclined parking lot at the Y. So why not just go get some new tries, Mike? It's the seventy-one thousand miles thing. I want to push it to seventy-two. But tires are not like that. They have a finite life.

So yesterday morning I get up at four to go to the Y and take the five fifteen spinning class with Karla The Kruel. Karla drives people into exhaustion and all the while has this silly little girl grin on her face. It's the best workout you cna get with your clothes on, really. I eat a quick breakfast, take a shower, get ready to go, all pumped up, and when I get into the truck it's listing to one side. It's like being on the Titanic without the drama, and screaming, and the ice, you know what, it isn't like being on the Titanic at all, nevermind. The same tire is dead, and it's raining. It's still raining at dawn when I connect the portable pump to the tire and make coffee. Twenty minutes later, I remember all of this, and rush out to discover the pump isn't going to raise the dead this time. He's dead, Jim. And it is flooding outside.

Because the ground is supersaturated as I turn the crank to the jack, the jack sinks slowly into the lawn. No problem! I get a piece of board to put under the jack. Now there's a problem; the truck is sitting so low, because there is a flat tire, the jack won't fit under the truck where it's supposed to fit. I have to move it more towards the center of the truck, not near the tire like it needs to be. The results is even with the jack fully extended the truck isn't elevated enough to get the spare on. I stack firewood under the truck, and realize that firewood isn't approved by the National Institute of Safety as a method of holding as truck up. The grass catcher incident looms heavily upon me. However, with the firewood prop, the truck is now high enough off the muddy ground for me to get the jack under where it is supposed to be. Two minutes later the spare is on, bolted, and all I have to do is get the firewood out from under the truck.

I get cleaned up, shaved, showed, and head into Valdosta to get new tires. The place I got for such things is a family owned business, and they are always busy. Good service, best prices, and they really care if you got what you paid for. The guy running the place is named Kevin, and I call out to him as soon as I walk through the door, "Yo! Kevin, we have to talk about these tires you sold me. You said they were fifty thousand mile tires!" Everyone in the room turns toward me, and then back to Kevin. It's super busy and someone with a tire complain isn't what he wants to hear.

"What's wrong?" I can see it in his face. He's truly trouble by this.

"I got seventy-one thousand miles out of them, are you gonna charge me extra for that?" I say loudly and a half dozen people laugh.

"I haven't been able to get away with that yet." Kevin says, and he grins.

"Then can you sell me a set just like the ones I have now, at the price I paid for them?" I know the prices have gone up, but I also know Kevin is going to give me a good price on them, even if I hadn't just given his tires a plug, no pun intended.

The new tires talk to me. The road sounds smoother. They handle better. I have to buy a new portable pump because I've killed the old one, but that isn't a big deal. The last set of tires lasted almost four years, and if I get that much out of this set I'll be a happy man. I'm down some money in this, but tires are not something you can live without. I managed to get out of this without another grass catcher story, and the tires talk to me.


Take Care,


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