Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tire Troubles and Louie DePalma

Well, it’s December and you know what that means, don’t you? No, not Christmas or Hanukkah or any of that other holiday and mistletoe-kinda stuff.

What it really means is that I am having tire troubles. (You do realize that the world revolves around me, no? Heyyy. Whaddya mean, “No!”?)

All right, so I concede that the world doesn’t really revolve around me, but I AM having tire troubles.

One day last week I noticed that the front tire on the driver’s side was pretty low, so I took it to the gas station where I had to pay the exorbitant amount of 75 cents for air. Sure, sure, I suppose the gas station owners have to maintain that air dispensing machine and all, but there’s just something galling about having to pay for air.

Anyway, I thought that took care of the problem. But I thought wrong. The tire was really low again a few days later, so I took it to the tire place close to my office. It’s a little hole-in-the-wall tire shop owned by a man who looks to be at least 200 years old.

And he’s mean. I mean, one time I took my car there to have a new tire put on the car and started to write a check to pay the bill. He came hustling out of his little cage, à la Louie DePalma from that old Taxi sitcom. And he snatched my checkbook out of my hands! I was flabbergasted and asked him what the heck he thought he was doing. He responded that customers had written way too many checks that had bounced and he wanted to make sure my balance was enough to cover his bill.

Since I towered over the man, I was able to grab my checkbook back out of his hands and stopped just short of thunking him on top of his little head with it. But I was sorely tempted, let me tell you. I wrote him a check – that didn’t bounce, thank you very much – and vowed never to darken his doorway again.

But, um, the location is really convenient while I’m at work and I’ve been back a couple times since. I usually pay with a credit card, however, to avoid repeating the whole checkbook snatching scenario. I’m a little afraid I’d give in to my urge to thunk him on the head with my checkbook as payback for that first incident.

So I sat in a grimy chair in the waiting room anxiously awaiting word on how much the problem was going to cost me. Working in German Village, a quaint little part of town with many streets paved with bricks, wreaks havoc on motor vehicles. I’m not so sure how well horses did back in the “olden days” either. Suspensions go and nails and other sharp, pointy objects get embedded in tires.

After a few minutes I was summoned to the operating room and Louie pointed at a sad specimen of a tire with a severely bent rim and a tire so flat that I couldn’t believe it had come off my car. And then he started berating me and asking me what I’d hit. I told him I hadn’t hit anything. He looked at me in disbelief and then told me he couldn’t put that tire back on my car; that he’d have to “send out” for another rim and it would take two days for it to come in.

Meanwhile, I’m standing there wondering how I’m going to get back to the office and then how I’m going to get all the way back home after 5 o’clock. I couldn’t imagine sitting in my office for three to four hours waiting for Vince to drive downtown to collect me after he finished with his job for the day.

So while my thoughts were racing and my blood pressure was skyrocketing, one of Louie’s underlings walked in and said, “That not her wheel, boss.” I heard the guy…but Louie was still shaking his head and carrying on about how I had to hit something pretty substantial to incur that kind of damage.

After the young man repeated for the third time that it wasn’t my wheel, Louie finally heard him. And then he grudgingly apologized to me.

So I went back to the waiting room a total wreck. For some reason, car issues really stress me out. And, even though Vince is great at dealing with car issues, he wasn’t there to take Louie on for me.

Turns out my rim WAS bent, but just barely, and air was slowly leaking out around it. (The high curbs in German Village are pretty formidable, too, and I do admit to hitting the curb a time or two. But that was a long time ago. Since then, I do everything in my power to avoid parallel parking in GV.)

So Louie glued something or other on the wheel and said if it didn’t hold, I’d have to have the rim replaced and he handed me back my keys. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to pull out either my checkbook or credit card since he didn’t charge me anything. Probably he was feeling guilty for yelling at me about the other wheel.

But this time when I left, I promised myself I wouldn’t be back. I really don’t need a mean Louie DePalma character in my life. I guess when you get to be that old, you get seriously cranky.

So I’m really looking forward to taking my car to some anonymous tire repair chain that has a bajillion tires and rims in stock. I’ll willingly pay a little extra to ensure that nobody snatches my checkbook out of my hands or berates me for the condition of a wheel that doesn’t even belong to me.

Or…maybe I’ll just leave the car repair stuff to Vince. Problem solved and no head thunking required.


  1. That one really made me laugh...I would have loved to see you thunking him on top of his little head...:-) :-) :-)

  2. Me too, Heike. He deserved it! :)