Sunday, September 10, 2023

Nobody Gets Flat Tires Any More... Do They?

 The view from atop a flatbed tow-truck

Twenty years ago, I would have yelled out a string of lusty cuss-words, got out the lug wrench and jack, and changed the tire. As the song says, “But that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone.”


This past Friday was a challenging day for many reasons. My bride had to endure a common but bothersome medical procedure, the kind for which you must do “bowel prep.” Which means starting late Thursday afternoon she had to start drinking a gallon of that horrible concoction and couldn't stray more than a few steps from the bathroom for the next 16 hours.


This meant a night of very little and highly disturbed sleep for both of us. Such is life.


With bleary eyes we left our apartment at oh-dark-thirty Friday morning to the Endoscopy Center of Fairfield, just a quick jaunt down the coast. Everything was fine, and by mid-morning we were headed back home. I suggested to my tired wife that she just crawl back into bed and take a nice, long nap. I hung out in the living room and caught up on some of the streaming shows I like.


Early afternoon arrived and I heard Toni stirring. She came out to the living room with a worried look. When she woke up, her right eye hurt and she had a blind spot in the center of her vision. Not good. She called her eye doctor, down the coast in the tony hamlet of Westport, home to scores of hedge fund billionaires and all manner of famous people. “We can’t get you in. Our first appointment is next Friday.” “But it’s an emergency!” “Our next open appointment is next Friday.”


That was the end of that conversation.


I suggested she call my eye doctor’s office in downtown Bridgeport. They gave her some sort of insurance runaround. Some mindless BS about “not recognizing her policy.” For the love of Pete, it’s the tiny company called MEDICARE!!!!


I called them back and bullied my way to the office manager, reminded her that I’d been a client for the past three years, described my wife’s medical emergency, and she said, “Oh my, that doesn’t sound good. Let’s get her in right away.” Now, that’s customer service. I gave her Toni’s Medicare number. She said, “I see you live in Black Rock – I can slot Toni in at 3 o’clock as an emergency so that gives you plenty of time to get here.”


Sidebar: the government says we live in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, but the neighborhood in which we reside, along the coast of Long Island Sound, is called Black Rock because of, among other things, Black Rock Harbor, a coastal haven for ships of all sizes. Black Rock was a separate city (or “town,” as they call the municipalities around here) until Bridgeport gobbled it up in the 1960’s. Locals still call it Black Rock, best known now not for the huge harbor and marina, but for the scores of really good restaurants and entertainment venues.


Back to the tale of the flat tire.


I’d barely ended the conversation with Millie at my eye doctor’s office when she called back and said they had a cancellation at 2:45 – did we think we could make that appointment on short notice? Sure.


We piled into our trusty new road warrior, a Chevy Equinox, and headed to downtown Bridgeport. We were tired and scared, but grateful that my eye doctor was accommodating and understanding. I made the turn off North Avenue onto Main Street. As I turned into the eye doctor’s parking lot, I managed to miss the entrance by a few feet and rammed perforce into the curb. The right front tire took a massive hit.


Toni was startled and I said a few things which I won’t report here, hoping all would be OK.


It wasn’t. As she got out of the car to go into the office, she looked down at the right front tire and reported that it was going down rapidly. In the next breath, she said, “It’s flat.” More expletives issued from my mouth. I told her to go in and deal with her eye, and I’d deal with the mess I’d created.


Just then, the information center on the dashboard issued a warning about the right front tire (you can see it in the photo at the top of the post) followed shortly by a message from OnStar: “Low air pressure has been detected in one or more tires on your Chevrolet Equinox - Passenger Side Front (1PSI).” One PSI. Probably because the tire pressure monitor system doesn’t report ZERO PSI.


I got out of the car to inspect. Why, I don’t know. I knew what had happened. I smashed it into the curb so hard that no tire could have survived the impact. After still more profanities, I called my guys at the Firestone Tire Store; they recommended Mid-Town towing and said they’d deal with the flat as soon as we got there.  Meantime, I called our daughter and after filling her in about what was going on, asked her if she might be available for some taxi service, since the situation was still sort of fluid. Of course, she would.


I’d put Mid-Town towing on alert, explaining that we couldn’t do anything until my wife completed her eye doctor appointment. They told me to give them a holler when we were ready to go. Shortly thereafter, Toni came out, with news that after a battery of tests and looking into blinding lights on some fancy machine, the doctor said she’d somehow scratched her eyeball. She’d given Toni a couple vials of medical eyedrops and said the situation should resolve itself in a couple days; nothing to worry about; call me if you don’t note improvement tomorrow.


Spoiler alert: her vision was back to normal the next morning and the pain was gone.


Much relieved, I called Mid-Town Towing, and ten minutes later they were there with a big flatbed tow-truck. “Call dispatch and give them your credit card info, and if everything’s OK, I’ll have you drive up onto here and we’ll have you over to Firestone on King’s Highway in Fairfield in short order.” Everything was OK with dispatch, so we drove up onto the flatbed, the driver strapped the car down, and we were on our way.


The Firestone guys swung into action immediately after we arrived. Usually on an All-Wheel Drive vehicle like ours, you can’t just replace one tire. You have to put four new tires on, lest the AWD computer be confused, or some such. But the tech said because the tires were new – less than four thousand miles on them – we could get by with just replacing the right front tire with an exact size match, and all would be well with the AWD computer. (Dr. Google agreed, as I found out, later.)


Four o’clock on a busy Friday afternoon and those guys had us on our way home in a little less than an hour. We ate a quick dinner and were in bed at 8 o’clock, too tired to do anything else.


At granddaughter Lola’s 5th birthday party, the next day, my friend Amy from our son-in-law’s side of the family sidled up to me and said, “Run into any good curbs lately?” She’d seen my post on Facebook about the incident and gave me some good-natured ribbing about it. “Sounds like a blog post should be done,” said someone else.


All’s well that ends well