Some of life’s more minor irritations I feel that I should be excused from at present, but that’s not exactly how life works, is it? So when I left my office at 5:30 last night to find that my car had a flat tire, it was just too much for me, and I very maturely had a small but definite tantrum right there in the parking lot, stomping and kicking the concrete. And then I more or less gathered my composure and tried to deal with it.
Luckily, there was enough air in the tire to safely drive to the Auto Check around the corner from my office. This is the same Auto Check that I always avoid because not only do the mechanics there reek of sleaziness, but it’s also ridiculously expensive and I don’t care about the convenience of leaving your car there all day while they take you to work and pick you up. The ride is still in a mechanic’s van with ripped vinyl seats, empty packs of Marlboro Reds on the dashboard and bits of gum wrappers and scraps of paper scattered about – in my mind, aka Kidnapper’s Van. Two years ago, I swore I’d never go there again. But last night, I had no choice; Auto Check it was.
I walked inside, looked at the man behind the desk, raised my defeated hands in the air and before I could even think about stopping myself, desperately blurted out, “I have a flat tire and I have no idea what to do.” Yes, it was a whine, and I think it included a pout as well. Yes, I do know better. As my car was taken from my view, I phoned my brother and told him how I felt that Dad would be so disappointed in me for how I just handled myself, and he agreed with me, and also agreed that I was likely going to be hit with a heavy but well-deserved invoice (after that display).
After waiting 30 minutes in a nice wingback leather chair that I figured I’d soon be paying for, the mechanic came into the shop and said my car was ready. We walked outside together and he showed me the screw that was the culprit, said he’d patched it up, and it was in good shape. Nervously, I asked, “How much do I owe you?” Generously, he responded, “I wouldn’t feel right charging you for that, it was really nothing.” I know I could have called AAA and it would have cost nothing, and I know that fixing a flat is not a high dollar thing, but I also know that he could have charged me pretty much anything and I naively would have paid it, and many other places would not have batted an eye at doing so. I thanked him, with a gushing sincerity that I’m sure he’s unaccustomed to, shook his greasy hand, and went about my way, thinking that Dad would raise an eyebrow at the idea of damsel in distress sometimes actually working. And I safely drove home on four fully inflated tires, all my money still in my wallet.