Friday, October 9, 2015

My Adventures Doing the Exact Opposite of 'Speed'

I’m a slow driver. Some have said I drive the way old people make love – often using much more colorful terminology to do so. Usually, I retort with something along the line of “Yes, carefully and with years of experience.” It’s not a mic drop moment, it’s barely even a place the mic slowly back into the storage closet at the end of the night, sign it a lullaby and put on its Chris Rock nightlight moment. Still, it usually gets a chuckle and life goes on.
                I mean, I’m not going to argue. I am a slow a driver. I have been since the days when I carefully pushed my Matchbox cars around fake cityscapes, following what my 8-year-old brain understood to be “The rules of the road.” It ain’t going to change – well, not for the better anyway. Pack on 10-20 years and I’m going to be in danger of being thoroughly lapped by children on big wheels.
                I – and the drivers in between my place of business and my place of residence – got a sampling this past week of just what he future entails for me as a motorist.   
                First, a little backstory. I was finishing up my business at a local gas station the other morning. I needed to turn myself around in the lot, so I attempted to execute one of those three-point turns. It was empty so I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. I pulled forward and though “Huh, I might make this in one go.” Naturally, the second I thought that, I heard the thing everyone who has ever thought that hears: the sound of tires or plastic or something scraping on something else. In this case, it was my tire and a curb. I sighed. The thing was, it didn’t sound that bad. It sounded like I was just sort of very lightly grazing it. I did what anyone would do, I dumbly pushed through it. My car didn’t flip, soon the scraping noise stopped. I made my way to the gym and that was that.
                But that wasn’t that. If that was that, this wouldn’t be a blog post. It would be a story I tell my wife when she asks me how my day was and I blank on the hours between 7-5. 
                A few hours later I exited the gym (No car cats, by the way) and found my tire, the one I scraped, mostly flat. I wasn’t totally surprised by this. I noticed it was looking a little light the day before and had, lazily, decided to let it go. I thought it must have been on its way to flat and then the incident from earlier in the day had pushed it along the rest of the way.
                It wasn’t so flat that I couldn’t drive it, so I made my way to the same gas station from earlier to get air. The air pump was broken. I went to a different gas station, slightly less nearby, and proceeded to refill the tire. While I was doing this, I noticed a slight tear on the side wall of the tire in the middle of an uneven, bubbly bit. Knowing that probably wasn’t a good thing, I finished the short rest of the trip to work.
Upon my arrival, with the help of some quick Googling, I found this:
“It is essential that you understand that a bubble in the sidewall is dangerous. An air bubble may grow bigger, and can cause the tire to fail while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 11,000 crashes a year are caused by tire failure.”
That was one of those things that just pops up in the top of the search result because it’s such a fundamental piece of knowledge that Google doesn’t want you to have to go to another page to find it. Immediately, I began planning my exit from work that day.
Luckily, my boss was cool with me working from home so I could drop my car off at a shop to be fixed. I considered taking the ticking time bomb that was my front passenger tire off and putting on the donut, but for some reason, I decided against doing so. 
The entire ride from work to the shop I did just under 7 mph. Mostly back roads. I’m not a monster. Every time I neared a manhole cover or a McDonald’s bag lying in the street, I broke into a cold sweat. I braced for an explosion. I was no longer driving like old people make love. I was driving like ancient Galapagos turtle make love.
Somehow, I made it to the shop and then I walked myself home from there. The car is now fine, but I learned a few things about myself that day. I learned that I should probably voluntarily give up my license when I get older or run the risk of being road-raged to death by all drivers under the age of 97. I also learned that I’m not great at making three-point turns and that, if I ever think: “I got this,” I don’t in fact “got it.” 
So far this Spooky Season I’ve had my woods-based, slasher-inspired horror nightmare and my anti-“Speed” car nightmare. I wonder what comes next? (Please be giant-sized adorable animal takeover a la “Night of the Lepus,” please be giant-sized adorable animal takeover … )

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