Thursday, December 03, 2009


So, as you saw on Monday, I blew a flat on Sunday en route to Nashville. To my mom’s horror/delight, I happened to have worn my pink pajama pants* to drive home. Some people have driving gloves or driving shoes – I have driving pants. So I’m 20 minutes outside of Nashville, soooo ready to get home and see my Turkey when I hear a thudthudthudthudthud noise. I was in the far left lane so after a moment of panic and remembering I need to pull to the outside shoulder, I scoot across traffic without causing a wreck, stop the car and get out to survey the damage... still in my pajama pants. As I’m putting the car in park, I see my hubcap or tireplate or whatever it’s called roll off into the grassy abyss. Nice.

Now let me remind you that I have had my car for a year and had no idea that the tires on this 2004 Camry were the ORIGINAL TIRES to it (at least that's what the repair shop I went to on Monday guessed). I asked the guy who sold me the car (sight unseen) about the condition of the tires, and he said I would need new ones soon. Having just written him a five-figure check for this vehicle, I figured tires could wait and filed that in the back of my mind.

So there I was Sunday, on the side of the road, wearing my CWE sweatshirt, pajama pants and Uggs. I walked around to the front right where I saw my tire, collapsed in a puddle of rubber around the rim. I call Chris. After he walks me through checking to make sure I have a spare and proper tools stowed in my trunk, I tell him I've seen this done before and I think I can do this myself. But I’m also a little scared, so he offers to leave the comfortable, cozy warmth of his house and meet his unshowered, pajama-clad girlfriend nearly 30 minutes away. What a prince. I tell him I'll start the process and see how far I get.

First things first. I get my suitcase, pull my jeans out, climb in the passenger seat and change clothes. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW MOM????

Next, I go the trunk and start pulling everything out. At this point, it occurs to me how incredibly grateful I am that it’s daylight at that moment. And not raining. My tire may be bald and flat but it's kind. Because had this tire or any of the other three decided to blow, oh I don’t know, a month ago at 1 am outside of Knoxville on my way home from Charlotte, Evan would have surely met the business end of my lug wrench. But that’s another story. So I pull all the equipment out, including a folded up picnic blanket my sister gave me (thanks!) to serve as an impromptu kneepad/cushion. If I’m going to do this, it’s not going to be at the expense of my knees.

Just to be safe, I get out the car’s manual to see if they have any advice for me. I find the notches under the car where the jack is supposed to connect and make sure it’s in place. Next up, loosen the lug nuts. That’s where I got stuck. I was trying to arm it. Turns out, as I soon learned, you have to use your legs and kick those suckers loose. So, all of my attempts to change this tire myself stop there.

I go grab my phone out of the car and see that Chris has called. His brother had called him as he was about to leave his house, and being halfway between the house and where I was, he offered to save C the trip and meet me. Awesome. Whichever brother could get there faster is the one I wanted to see.

While I’m waiting for M to show up, a carload of women stop. They explain they can’t change the tire but want to make sure I’m okay. “Don’t nobody stop for nobody anymore!” I realized they had a good point, as I had been on the side of the road on one of the busiest travel days for a good 30 minutes and no one had stopped.

Eventually, M finds me. The only problem was that five minutes before M found me, so did a man named Eric (who actually looked a lot like M), who was insistent that he get started on the tire even though I explained help had just passed me going south, and was turning around to meet me on the northbound side of the road. I felt so bad that M was coming all that way to find someone already hard at work on my car. But I was relieved to see a familiar face, so I was still super glad he came all that way.

The two men bonded immediately over the horrible condition of my tires. They pointed out the lack of tread, and just to be sure I understood his point, M walked me to his car to take a peek at his perfect tires and their perfect tread. SUE ME. I DON’T PAY ATTENTION TO MY TIRES, OKAY? I spent the past five years of my life dealing with engine trouble, so no wonder I was so worried making sure this car wasn’t going to behave similarly that I completely forgot to give a d*** about the tires. Which in hindsight is kind of surprising, because as anyone that has ridden in a car with me in the rain knows, hydroplaning is my second greatest fear (right behind sharks). And considering the condition of these tires, I’m really surprised that I haven’t hydroplaned myself into the hospital by now.

Anyway, M and Eric get the new tire all set up, and help me put the old tire back in the trunk. M also almost met the business end of my lug wrench after making a dig about the Auburn-Alabama game. Epson salt on an open wound! I couldn’t get to C fast enough. Neither could M, who called him to reiterate that I needed new tires pronto.

So guess what we did on Monday? I spent some time on the phone and internet (and g-chat) price-shopping tires. The shop said the others had exposed steel and it was a matter of time before they went flat as well. So, I am now the proud new owner of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen - four new beautiful Firestone FR380 tires. These S-Speed rated tires feature a tread design that channels water away for wet performance. The tread’s biting edges also provide excellent traction in wet and snow conditions. Best of all, the FR380 is popularly priced to make it a top value choice for many popular vehicles! (Firestone, I’ll expect your check in the mail soon). With the tires comes free rotation, and since the alignment on the car was so off, I had them fix that as well as paid a little extra for lifetime alignment. So, if you can’t find me, check at Firestone because I’ll be dropping the car off once a week to get the tires rotated and my alignment fixed. In other words, I am getting my money’s worth from this expenditure if it kills me.

*Those pajama pants aren't just any pajama pants - they have extreme sentimental value. I will never throw them away. I may never drive in them again, however...


  1. Had your tire blown in Knoxville at 1 am, you would have been relieved to discover that my tire changing skills have been put to good use before. And, I would have been able to offer at least SOMETHING of value to our wonderful North Carolina adventure.

    Yours truly,


  2. Good story! Can't believe those were the original tires... wow. My mom always got onto me whenever I went out driving in pajamas or in the winter without a jacket (and so on), "Honey, what if you have a wreck, a flat tire...? Where something that you'd be willing to stand on the side of the road in!" Hate it when moms are right.

  3. Hate typos... that of course should say "Wear," not "Where." Ugh.

  4. i bet the reason that no one stopped to help you was cause you looked like you knew what you were doing, kicking the tire thing and all!!!

    btw, I am a nervous wreck (no pun intended) driving in the rain. totally afraid of hydroplaning.

  5. I can't believe you were going to change them yourself. I have never blown a tire, but I would have immediately called the tire 911 people, whoever that may be. You are awesome.

  6. Sarah, your Tire 911 = Clay

  7. You named your tires after reindeer???? Why am I not that creative. Glad you're safe.


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