Sunday, November 16, 2008

One Of Those *&#%@ Days

Do you all have those days from time to time where the universe seems to be conspiring against you? One of those days where nothing seems to go right and you just want to crawl back in bed? I had one of those yesterday.

Everything started pleasantly enough. I had decided to drive to Fort Worth to buy one of these maple trees as well as possibly a Japanese maple or two. The tree I planted a couple of weeks ago doesn't look like it's going to make it, so I thought I would try to plant something else before it gets too cold. I was reluctant to make the 70-mile-plus drive, but since gas prices have gone down so much lately I thought "what the heck".

Everything was fine for the first 35 miles or so. The nursery is only open on Saturdays from 8-2, and I was planning on arriving about 10 minutes after 1. The first sign of trouble occurred on Loop 12 about 2 miles south of Texas Stadium. All of a sudden traffic seemed to come to a standstill. I deal with heavy traffic every weekday on my commute, so I didn't panic at first. Usually things look a lot worse than they actually are. So I was OK when the lanes were reduced from 4 to 3. No problem, we're still moving. Then another lane was taken away. Not great, but hopefully it wouldn't last long. "Left lane closed ahead". WTF? They had the highway down to one lane. On a Saturday in the middle of the day. It wasn't moving much at all. My planned route had me staying on this road for another 10 miles or so. I couldn't tell how long the delay would be, so I exited and mapped out another route that would get me there hopefully by 1:30.

In an effort to make up for lost time I drove faster than I had been. I cruised along for another 30 miles or so with no problem. I could still make it in time. Suddenly I heard an unidentified noise coming from somewhere. At first I thought it was from a semi that was next to me, but after it passed me I still heard it. It was like a chugga-chugga sound. It seemed to be coming from one of my tires or wheels. Not good. I kept on going. Suddenly right before the exit that I would be taking, one of my tires suddenly went flat! I pulled over to the right without incident and geared up to put on my spare and limp to the nursery. If everything went quickly I could still possibly make it with about 10 minutes to spare.

I have aluminum wheels on my car that have wheel locks instead of standard lug nuts. Basically this means that I need a key (which is really just an adapter) in order to use the lug wrench on the lug nuts. I started getting a little nervous because I had the feeling that my key was in my toolbox, which was currently sitting on the floor in my living room. I had taken my toolbox out of its normal place in my trunk so I could use my wrench on something at home. I specifically remember wondering whether I should put the toolbox back in the car before I left, but I asked myself "what are the odds that I'll get a flat?"

I knew I didn't have my toolbox, so I hoped against hope that the key was in my glovebox, which was where it had resided originally. Uh, don't see it. I took everything out of the glovebox hoping that it was just buried at the bottom under all the junk. Nope. Crap! This was not good. I was trapped on the side of the highway, 70 miles from home, with no way to change my tire. What now?!

I reluctantly accepted the fact that I would not get to the nursery in time. I was less than 10 miles away, so it was a bitter pill to swallow. I looked around to see if there was any place around that could possibly have a key that would fit my wheels. There was a shopping center with a grocery store in it not too far away. I was hoping that maybe there was an auto parts store or a mechanic nearby, so I locked up my car and started walking.

The first place I found was a hardware store. After determining that they didn't have any wheel lock keys, I asked the guy if there was a Discount Tire nearby. That's where I had bought my tire, so I knew I would need to be going there to get a new one. "Yeah, there's one just on the other side of the highway". Hallelujah! I figured they would have a key for my wheels since that was where I had bought them. I walked down the road and crossed underneath the highway and spotted the Discount Tire. "What a stroke of luck to have one so nearby," I thought. "Maybe the worst is over and I can recover what's left of today." Not so fast buddy. As I approached the store I noticed it seemed curiously empty of people. Like totally empty. They should be open. As I got to the door I saw a piece of paper taped to it. "Discount Tire will be closing at 1PM today due to a Corporate Function. We apologize for the inconvenience." It was about 2PM. Double crap!!

At this point I was starting to get that feeling that you get when everything that you do seems destined to fail. I decided to walk back across the highway and head to a Firestone Service Center that I had seen across the street from the hardware store. I went in and was told that they weren't allowed to give me any tools. What the hell?! I asked if there was an auto parts store nearby. Sure, there was one just across the highway. It was a few blocks further east from the tire store. "You can walk through our shop to get to the road". Gee, thanks dude! You've been such a help!

I trudged over to the auto parts store. I quickly found the wheel and tire section and started looking for a key. It looked like I would have to at the very least buy a set of 4 locks in order to get a key since they didn't have any that were not part of a set. There was a bewildering array of different looking locks and keys. I looked at them for long time before determining that the one that had the key that I hoped would work only came in a set with 20 locks. For $29.99. I grabbed the set and headed to the front to ask the clerk if by some miracle they were hiding some single keys behind the counter somewhere. "No, those are the only ones we have." Triple crap!!! At that point I wasn't quite ready to give in. "There's no way in hell I'm paying 30 bucks for that damn thing!", I thought. I sulked back over to the aisle where I found the set and tried to think of some other way I could get those locks off my wheel. The options were pretty much none.

It wasn't just the money either. I wasn't actually sure that the lock in that set would work on my wheel. I could see that the locks kind of looked like mine, but I wasn't 100% sure that they were the same. I did actually toy with the idea of just hanging out by my car and hoping someone would stop who would have the right key. But with the way this day was going? Yeah, right! I reluctantly went back up front to buy the set. "Maybe I can return it later," I thought. I was rung up by another clerk who tried to get me to buy some $3 sunglasses since I was spending more than $25. Needless to say I turned them down. "Do you want to donate $1 to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital?" I pictured myself vaulting over the counter and strangling this guy until he turned dark purple. I managed to just say "no" instead. I was beaten by this point. I had the distinct feeling that things were just totally out of my control, so I decided to just accept whatever was coming with resignation rather than fighting it. I think I was also resigned because after all, this was all my fault for not having my toolbox with me. The clerk I had spoken to earlier mentioned that I had already spent a lot more than I needed to, and I told the guy ringing me up that I only needed the key and that I wasn't even sure that it was the right size. "Boy, you'll be lucky if that key even works!" he said. Jesus! Sure, I'm already lying on the ground doubled over in pain - why not kick me in the nuts too?!

I took my ridiculous wheel lock set and started the walk back to my car. For some weird reason I was cautiously optimistic that the key would work. I just kept thinking "please let this work, please let this work". I got to my car, opened up the package and took out the key and put it up to my wheel. It fit! Hot damn. I got my damaged tire off and put on my stupid temporary spare. My first car had a full sized spare, and I really miss that. Those tiny donut tires are for the birds. I had to add a bunch of air to the spare, but luckily I had just recharged my portable air compressor this past week.

On the way back home I stopped at a couple of other Discount Tire locations, only to be greeted by the same sign taped to the window. What a bunch of crap! Luckily I made it home without further incident. Believe me, I didn't think that was a given, and I was greatful to make it back home OK. As soon as I walked in the door I went to my toolbox and opened it to see if my wheel lock key was indeed in there. It was not! Which means that the last time I went in for a tire rotation, they must have forgotten to give me my key back. OK, now I was pissed. Discount Tire is gonna feel my wrath!

Needless to say I did not want to leave the house today. And I didn't except for a trip to the grocery store less than 2 miles away.

And just so this post won't be completely negative, here's a picture of a smiling duck:


Blogger REENblack said...

I'm so sorry. What a shitty day. Hopefully all the shitieness of yesterday will hold you off for at least a few months!!! (I suppose that giggling a little wasn't very nice...but we've all had those days and your choice of words made me laugh!)

11/17/2008 9:39 AM  
Blogger m. heart said...

oh wow, that's the kind of nightmare day that (hopefully) only comes along once in a loooong time. for some reason it brought the movie "falling down" to mind, especially your experience with the tire place being closed.

11/21/2008 10:46 PM  

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