Thursday, September 2, 2010

Suspiciously convenient and reasonable tire shops, round two

A week or so ago, my friend Flic asked me if I would be willing to help her get to the Salt Lake City airport in case an impending family emergency took a turn for the worse. Well, she got the call yesterday that it was time to get on a plane, so we made a drop-of-the-hat trip to SLC. I got a text around 2:45 and we left by 3:00. Gabe, Flic's boyfriend, came and got me from the college house and we departed shortly from Flic's place. The three of us piled into her old Accord and set out. It was a somber trip due to the reason for the trip, but Flic has a strong spirit and was calm and kept her head on despite the circumstances.

We got about 45 minutes into the two-hour trip and were on I-15, a major interstate. We had the windows down due to the Accord's lack of air conditioning, which made talking a bit difficult but helped beat the heat. At one point we were passing a semi truck, and I was looking out at it- I noted that the trailer was sporting the new super-single tires: really wide single tires where most trailers have double tires. I was focusing on the tires as we passed, and as we got up by the front tires I heard a skitch-skitch-skitch sound that means something is wrong with the tire. I assumed it was the semi's tire and considered hand-signalling to the semi driver that something was wrong with his tire, but decided against it. It couldn't have been more than three seconds later, though, that our own front passenger-side tire catastrophically blew out.

Gabe was driving and kept control of the car and steered us to a stop in the left-hand shoulder. We came to a stop and it didn't take long for the gravity of the situation to reach us- Flic had a flight to catch in SLC that departed at 7:58 and it was after 4:00. SLC isn't the fastest airport in the world to get through, and we were still upwards of an hour away. Dadgum. Well, with no time to waste, we set about changing the tire. That was good news and back news- Flic actually had several tires in her trunk, but unfortunately they were all sketchy tires, and the best one was one that had been preemptively taken off due to a bulge in the tread and was only have half aired-up. We figured it'd be better to put it on and limp to a safe parking place than to sit in the left shoulder. I got about changing the tire, which really went like any other tire-change except that Gabe spotted a crack pipe on the shoulder of the road where we stopped- I guess somebody pitched it when they were getting pulled over.

While the tire change was in progress, each of us was thinking of ways to ameliorate the situation- I had AAA but no card on me. We considered having someone drive my car up so we could complete the journey in it, and actually got as far as Shane looking for my spare key but getting stumped. (I still don't know where I put it when I moved down into my apartment) Flic was on the phone trying to see about changing her flight to the next available one. I thought perhaps we could get the car up to SLC on the sketchy tire if we aired it up at the next gas station.

When we got the replacement tire on, we could see it wasn't really going to last long- it was quite flat. Gabe and I concurred that we oughtn't to go over 30 mph on it. Fortunately, we weren't too far from the next exit. We decided to drive to the nearest gas station and reassess our situation. I was on the phone with Chip trying to figure out if they needed to send someone out for us, and I didn't want to trouble someone if Flic was going to reschedule her flight anyway. We limped in the right-side breakdown lane at 30 for a mile or two. We actually passed the first exit, for South Santaquin, because it only joined with a road and offered no services- we knew the next exit had a gas station and wasn't far. Gabe had accelerated to 45 so he could be in the slow lane somewhat legitimately. We pulled off at the Santaquin exit and were planning on hitting the gas station- but right next to the gas station I spotted something handy:

"Tire shop!" I shouted and pointed up at the top of the hill.
"Go!" said Flic, I'm sure to the confusion of the Travelocity agent on the other end of the phone.

We pulled onto the side street that'd take us up there, and just as we were pulling into their driveway, the sketchy tire let go, evidenced by the sudden sound of shredded rubber flapping against the road and wheel-well. At this point we just laughed that it would happen here. We pulled into a parking spot, tire flapping.

I took note of the tire size and determinedly walked into the tire shop. Time was of the essence, after all. We had to wait for a few minutes for the sales person to become available, during which time I considered just waltzing into the shop floor and seeing if one of the tire jockeys could fix us up. Soon enough it was my turn and I asked the lady behind the counter if they could fix us up with a P185-70 R13 tire- or any other 13"rim tire with a remotely similar size- ASAP.

"I don't know, thirteen inch tires are getting kinda rare these days, but let me go check."

She disappeared down a hall and I waited. Flic was on the phone with someone then, and Gabe was probably waiting outside. After a few minutes the tire lady reappeared with a tire in hand!

"Fantastic!" I exclaimed. "Do you think you can get us back on the road in twenty minutes?"
"Sure thing" was her response.
"What's the damage?" I asked.
"For this one, eh... " she paused a moment- "Thirty bucks."

Fair enough- I didn't even have to start telling her about our dire circumstances. My guess is that she'd plenty of young people in sketchy cars who needed a cheap tire to get back on the road in a hurry. Gabe got the bill paid while the tire jockey performed the tire work, and after only ten minutes or so, we had a drivable car. We expressed our gratitude and departed around 4:45- according to my phone's log, only about 35 minutes elapsed between my first 'Oh snap, we're in trouble' call and my 'Everything is OK' call. That's cool.

We got back on the road with joy at how God had provided for us- if you'll remember, this is the second time this summer that God provided a tire shop right were it was needed. Flic remembered, though that we had failed to start the trip with prayer- an oversight that God didn't hold against us while he provided for us. We prayed then simple and joyful prayers of gratitude and supplication for the rest of the trip. Flic started telling stories of sketchy road trips she'd taken in the past wherein God had come through amazingly in the face of car problems.

Flic still worried that we might not arrive at the airport in time- likely because some overzealous ticketing agent told he she needed to be there two hours in advance, which is a complete falsehood for domestic flights. I thought we were golden, and I wasn't wrong. Although we got delayed some by traffic, we arrived at SLC with much time to spare- something like an hour and a half, I think. After some hugs, Gabe and I took off with the request not to leave the city until Flic made it through security. I was driving and took us to NPS rather by autopilot, mostly just because that was the place I knew how to get to from memory, which was only five minutes away or so. I was just up in SLC the day before and had driven that route with Kim and our new assistant staff Sarah while running a slew of errands for the ministry.

I figured NPS was a great place to pass the time while waiting for Flic to clear security, but she texted us that she was through before we even got into the parking lot. Well, being at NPS isn't an opportunity to waste so we went in anyway. NPS is a surplus store that deals with everything. They buy up outdated food, truckloads of whatever crashes on the highway, items that just don't sell... whatever. They have everything from frozen bacon from last week to car body panels and nearly everything in between. It is a wonderful place, sort of like a discount store with everything under the sun. I'm particularly taken with their industrial section (building, actually), because everything there is cool and could totally be used on a Sweet Project. Unfortunately, they seem to have a good grasp of what everything is worth, so there aren't any spectacular bargains there, just decent deals. The industrial building was closed when we got there, but from the food/household goods building I got a 10-pound torpedo of frozen ground beef that could be used as  murder weapon ($14.97), four frozen pizzas ($1.50 ea) and a few packages of Rice-a-roni for something cheap.

I wanted to seize the opportunity of being Up North to get silverware for my apartment, a vital item that was neglected the day before when I picked up most of the other stuff I needed. Gabe searched for a DI on his fancyphone. DI stands for Deseret Industries, which is the Utah/LDS equivalent of Goodwill or Salvation army. After a pitifully long fight of getting lost which probably took 30 minutes, we arrived at a DI to see that it was closed. Shucks. Well, too bad. Time for dinner. We'd been up and down that particular block three times so I knew there was a Taco Casa down the block, so we headed there. At the red light, though, I noticed the presence of two Sketchy No-English Taco Carts.

"Sketchy taco cart?" I asked.
"Sketchy taco cart." Gabe replied. It was so.

I wanted to order in spanish to show off the modicum of foreign-language skill I retained from high school, but biffed it. After surveying their menu board, I strode up, confident that "Dos tacos al pastor y un birrito de carne de res, con todo" would roll off my tongue, but instead:
"Hablas ingles?" Doh. Biffed it.
"Hm?" replied the taco lady, with a turn of the head.
"Do you speak english?" I asked.
She gestured to an adolescent who took my order in english. In retrospect, I think I wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to make a fool of myself by rattling off awful Spanish only to have the taco lady reply "Dude, I speak English." Instead I just ended up looking like a rube. Oh well. I later tried my spanish skills on the adolescent when I returned for drinks (bebidas) only to get answered in English. Fail. Oh well, I got this, and it was totally rockin' delicious:

I'll make a fool gringo out of myself for cheap awesome burritos any day.

Gabe and I had an uneventful drive home, except when I spotted a supercar dealiership:

Don't tell anyone, but I took that pic while driving a standard-transmission car, and holding a soda... in the middle of an intersection. Some call it irresponsibility, I call it skill. That's a Ferrari/Maserati dealership, by the way.

Here's an update on everything else I've been up to. I feel lazy when I write updates because I can never remember what exactly I've been doing, all I can remember is that I've been busy and all of it has been important. I've been working on a mailing of a support letter and today I started work on swapping the transmission in a van that was donated to the ministry. I've also been working the cafe and putting in some hours on-call at my new part time job, moving/installing appliances and furniture for a local store. Jamie is the on-call style consultant for the store and a friend of the owner. Apparently, before she came and styled everything, they just lined all their furniture up in the store in rows. It needed a woman's touch, I'm told. I've also taken up the reins as the guys dorm advisor, trying to keep things orderly up there.

That's all for now. As a last note, this is the time of year that Chip and Jamie look to build up the fund that supports Sarah and I throughout the upcoming year. I'm also starting to wonder about how bills are going to work when my student loans come due. If you'd like to receive a support letter to learn more and prayerfully consider supporting me, just send me an email. Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. God is SO good! That is great how God provided a tire shop when you guys needed it most (again for you).

    I will be praying for you as your student loans become due. God will provide.

    God Bless!