I was running slightly late this morning. Just a few minutes behind my standard last-possible-second-I-can-leave-and-still-arrive-at-work-on-time. Driving down Oak, an incredibly busy street, suddenly my car began violently shaking. I’m talking 8.7 on the Richter earthquake scale status. It trembled, it quaked, it shuddered. The cd player ejected the playing cd. My cd holder on the visor rocketed cds through the car. One hit me in the arm, another fell onto my lap, one collided with my head. My car swerved back and forth, paralleling my leans to avoid the flying weapons. They bounced off the windows and steering wheel. I pressed the flashers and managed to progress a block across two lanes of traffic. Cars honked and veered, narrowly avoiding my quavering car. It jiggled to a stop in a gas station parking lot. I emerged from the offensive vehicle in sunglasses, a long skirt, short-sleeved shirt, and heels. My right front tire had no air in it. It constituted a heap of rubber. I had been driving on the rim. I consulted the cashier. He informed me he couldn’t help me, but wished me a very kind good luck with a dismissive wave of his arm. Another man approached me clad in painter uniform and said he would change the spare for $20 so I wouldn’t have to call and wait for someone to appear. I thought this logical. If he could do it fast I might potentially make it to work (almost) on time. I accepted. When painter-turned-savior observed I had some full wine bottles in the trunk, he inquired if I could throw in one for good measure. I consented and he inched along minutely faster. By 8am I left, a fifteen minute drive to work. Five minutes later I entered the freeway, jammed with early-morning traffic. And then my car started violently shaking. It trembled, it quaked, it shuddered. Again. No flying saucers this time, but the outraged car movements were identical. I pressed the flashers. Again, cars honked and swerved. Angry car horns erupted. Yells and screams embellished the otherwise-still air. I survived the lane changes and descended from the freeway to downtown San Francisco . I halted as soon as possible. Coincidence: the chosen place of rest happened to be in a bus stop. I sat, took a deep breath, and watched as a cop car pulled in behind me and a policeman emerged. He swaggered up to the car, hands gripping belt buckle, as I stepped out. He notified me parking in a bus stop results in a ticket over $300. I notified him something was wrong with my tire. We walked around the car and observed the tragedy. The spare tire was in two pieces. The tube had completely disconnected from the inner metal (observe picture). The tube rested on the ground. The cop whistled and asked if I had AAA. Thank the parents, I do. I called AAA, the cop left, and I sat in my car with the emergency lights on as busses braked to the side and then vroomed away. Eventually the tow truck arrived and drove me, my damaged car hauled behind. At the tire store the experts informed me my tires all needed to be changed and they were surprised at my lucky survival. They were astounded I hadn’t noticed how appalling the tires were. “Didn’t you realize they’re bald?” they asked. As if I look at my tires. As if I even know what a bald tire means. As long as it drives, I don’t really pay attention. 1 new set of tires: $413. My bank account: $295 (payday is tomorrow). I was standing on the sidewalk talking animatedly to my friend Kate recounting the morning’s debacles. A man with wild white hair and gnarled knuckles snatched the phone out of my hand, ended the call, and shuffled away. I stood, momentarily immobile with mouth gaping. I jogged five steps and caught up with him.
“Just what do you think you’re doing?” I asked.
“There are angels,” was his inspiring reply.
My response, “Oh dear god.”
“Yes, angels…” he said as his eyes rested, unfocused, a foot above my head.
I didn’t want any of that nonsense. I seized my phone and walked away. This time I returned to the inside of the tire shop. I entered work two hours late.
The kicker: I just passed a mirror. My forehead is peeling from constant sun exposure this past weekend, and my lip is sun burnt!
Sidenote: This is the end result of the spare tire. If that tells you anything.