The Hazards of Toys

That title should read ‘The Hazards of Expensive Toys’ actually.

The cool breeze caressed my face as I walked out of the training building. I looked up allowing it to move along my neck and move my hair off my shoulder. As I gazed upward I saw clear bright skies. It was warm, much too warm for an ordinary February day at noon, but then again I am in the state of inconsistent winter weather. What is normal weather at this time of the year anywhere else in the union will never be experienced here.

I made my way to my car in the parking lot and immediately my thoughts turned to my empty stomach. Where should I have lunch? Drive through or sit down? I sent a text to my sub to see if he wanted me to bring him something. I owed him a soda at the very least for making him have to contact me about the reading lesson plans. How could I have overlooked noting the page number of the story for them to read today?

My sub said he was good, didn’t want anything so on I drove, still debating about where I should stop for lunch. Closer to school I should think. Having made that decision, off I went toward my side of town. Maybe I should go home for lunch. The dogs would be so happy to see me, I’m sure if only for a brief amount of time.

Traveling alone affords me the rare opportunity of singing along with my favorite songs. That day was no exception. I had a more than competent sub taking care of my students, the training had gone really well, not a complete waste of time as some have been in the past, and though traffic in the morning across town was horrific, that afternoon on the way back there were not so many cars to worry about. I was in good mood singing and driving along the freeway without a care.

I heard a noise. From seemingly nowhere comes this very strange noise. Bap-bap-bap-bap-bap-bap-bap!

What on earth is that? I turned my radio down to listen. It sounded like something slapping the underside of my car.

Bap-bap-bap-bap-bap-bap-bap!! Slowing down only made it louder.

I am just about to the merge. The highway that would take me across the river and home was just a few kilometers away. It’s a major interchange with lots of roads converging onto this one spot. Bap-bap-bap-bap-bap-bap-!!! I can pull over once I make the merge. With the lanes merging left I figured I should have enough space on the right to stop without fear of getting run over.

Bap-bap-bap-bap-bap-bap-bap!!! Turn the flashers on. Let them know why this car, of all cars, is going so slow. Finally I made it around the bend to the straight away where the right lanes would begin to merge to the left. I turned off the flashers, turned on my right blinker and began my entry onto the shoulder.

Bap—bap—bap—bap—bap! It was starting to slow down. Bap—–bap——bap—–then nothing as I merely rolled along before coming to a complete stop. This is good. Let’s see if I dislodged it. After remaining stopped a moment, I took a deep breath and decided to inch forward, slowly increasing speed. Nothing could be heard at first, but by the time I was up to twenty miles per hour that haunting, slapping sound started again. I stopped and parked, prepared to get out and survey the unknown.

I knew the sound came from the driver side rear of the car so that was my first stop, all the way in the rear actually. Getting down on all fours I peered underneath.

Nothing seems to be dangling. I get up and wipe road dust off my slacks. It’s bad enough that a 2004 BMW M3 is along the side of the road, but a lady in heels dressed to the nines is rummaging around under it. I laughed at myself for the image I imagined the other drivers beheld and the thoughts that must have gone through there heads. Actually, that was very narcissistic of me. I shook my head to make myself see reason. I’m sure they never gave me a second glance let alone a second thought.

However, I did have a second look around my car. I was perplexed that I hadn’t found the source of that noise. Finally, I noticed the tire. A little fringe was poking out from underneath. I had to get in my car and roll a bit forward to get whatever that was into better viewing range.

Reaching trepidatiously into the wheel well just above the tire I felt something laying on the tire. It turned out to be a strip of the tread. The tire was starting to unravel! It wasn’t too long of a piece, I could just cut it off to reduce the damage to the underside of the car’s body and drive, cautiously, home to figure out what to do next.

I jumped back into the car and started emptying my purse. Surely I have something in here to cut that. Nope! That would have been too easy.

Shaking just a bit I call my husband at work. He knows this city like the back of his hand whereas I am directionally challenged and tend to stick to known roads only. When I say they are known I mean I have driven that set of directions a minimum of five times. Yes, Garmin was made for people like me!

He told me to drive slowly to the very next exit. He said there was a huge home improvement store just past the overpass from that exit. Not wanting the voice of reason, the voice of calm, to leave me in a frightening situation I kept him on the phone the whole way to the store (Blue tooth earpiece, they’re still legal here, for now!).

As I pulled into the parking lot I am reminded that my stomach is empty. This is way too much excitement for one day for this old body.

“A simple pair of sheers should be enough to cut that piece of tread off,” my husband said in my ear, but I barely heard him. Walking up to the store the smell of freshly grilled hot dogs and other baseball park fare grabbed both of my nostrils and I walk in a trance toward their origin.

“Be right with you Ma’am,” the grill master said from inside his amazing coach kitchen. I nodded my acknowledgement as he continued to take the order of the gentle man in front of me. The cook seemed keen to let me know he was aware of my presence because he repeated his statement at least twice more before asking me what I’d like.

“A plain hotdog would be fine,” I said. I was so hungry by this point I almost couldn’t think straight.

“A jumbo dog, you said?”

“No, regular please.”

“Want a coke with that?” the other gentleman in the wagon asked. He looked much older than the cook. This one, unlike the cook, didn’t say much. He looked like a supervisor.

“No, thank you. If you have a bottled water, I’ll take that though,” I said. I watched the cook roll my hotdog back and forth on the grill.

“You look nice today,” the cook said as he toasted the bun on the grill. “What would you like on that hotdog?”

I lowered my gaze. I know it was just small talk, a sales strategy, but my vanity couldn’t help but be flattered to be told I looked nice in my outfit that I often wear in my classroom.

After filling my stomach and wetting my throat–the ambient outside temperature had reached it’s projected high of eighty-one degrees–I went inside to purchase a pair of sheers as my husband suggested. Who knew there was such a variety!? After much deliberation, my biggest concern was trying to get the tool between the wheel and the wheel well to cut the strip of tread successfully without cutting off a digit or two in the process, I finally chose a pair.

The clerk at the self check out couldn’t have been more than twenty years old. Normally dealing with such young people makes me feel so old. I wasn’t thinking of his age, though, just what to say to explain why I wanted him to take the packaging off the sheers I had just purchased. Not even batting an eye, he did as I bid.

Departing with my purchase, my task in mind and my husband still in my ear, I did not expect to be noticed. “How was that hot dog ma’am?” came bellowing from the wagon.

“Very good,” I hollered back, not wavering from my mission. “Exactly what I needed.” I turned and smiled at him, not wishing to seem too rude. He wanted to ensure a repeat customer, nothing more. I nodded agreeing with myself.

My task completed, I was quite proud of myself. I let my husband leave my ear as I regained site of familiar roads that led home. He needed to call around for new tires and I had to carefully, safely, get back home and await further instructions.

I had planned on spending the second half of my day preparing to condense my three hour training into a thirty minute debrief for my grade level. I ended up instead sitting at a garage the remainder of the afternoon and paid nearly my whole paycheck for two new tires. A matched set of course!

Here is what the tire looked like. Scary if you ask me! It could have been so much worse though!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Naomi Baltuck
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 10:56:39

    I love a happy ending!

    Reply

    • makergoddess
      Feb 28, 2012 @ 20:12:52

      The happy ending is that the tire did not completely shred or blow out. The not so happy outcome was the expensive of the two tires.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply

      • Naomi Baltuck
        Feb 28, 2012 @ 20:16:01

        It is also a lovely thing to be able to call up your knight in shining armor and be directed to a safe harbor. But it is too bad about the tires. As i often tell myself, “Nobody got killed!”

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