When you get to be my age, the term spare parts takes on a whole new meaning. Things start to wear out on us – like hips, and knees and organs, oh my. But thanks to the marvels of modern technology and medical advancements, you can actually replace worn out joints. I have never been one to consider things like new hips or plastic surgery, but I must admit I sometimes stand in front of the mirror and pull my jowls taut thinking, “maybe, just maybe.”Of course there are exceptions, and sometimes “spare parts” has the traditional meaning. In my case, spare tires to be exact.
Last July, I drove to Vermont to trade-in my Toyota Rav4. I actually intended to buy out the lease on my Rav4 because I really liked that car. But you know what happens when you go into a car dealership with the best of intentions. Yup, you leave with a new car.I turned in my plain white bare essentials Rav and drove off the lot in a shiny silver, loaded-with- extras Camry. It took me about one hour to get used to my new vehicle. And there is nothing better than that new car smell.
I broke her in right from the get-go by driving it back to South Carolina, a little under 1000 miles. Part of the lease deal was free service for the first two years. The gas mileage was a little better as well. And my monthly payment went up by one dollar. Economically, this was a good move. I had a brand new car with a three-year warranty, so I wasn’t going to be sinking any funds into maintenance or repairs. Had I kept the Rav, the first priority would have been to replace all four tires.On February 25th, I drove the Camry into the local Firestone dealership after discovering a tire with an apparent slow leak. No problem, those boys will patch that hole, charge me ten bucks and I will be on my way. Not so fast. When the mechanic said, “Miss Phillips, can I show you something” I knew I was up the creek. This wasn’t going to be good news.
A piece of metal about two inches long was wedged in the middle of the tire. “It’s too big a gash for us to plug. We need to replace the tire,” the mechanic advised me. Then he apologized when he saw the look on my face, like it was his fault I drove over something. “How much will it be,” I asked while trying to bat my eyes, a trick that used to work when I was younger and thinner. The mechanic apologized again when he informed me it would be $188.35. I tried to remain calm as I politely inquired if there was a lower cost alternative, but the look on my face obviously said, “You’ve got to be shitting me.” Apology number three.I slapped down the good old American Express card and gave myself the speech about being thankful that I have a job, my health, two beautiful daughters and an amazing grandson. It’s just a tire and it’s just two hundred dollars. Get over it. I got in my car and drove on my merry way.
Last Sunday, I headed downtown to meet Vicki, Eric and Wyatt at Triune Mercy Church. Vicki asked me to join them; it was their first visit as well. I knew the church was close to Tommy’s Ham House, the greasy spoon where every political candidate makes an obligatory stop when they come to Greenville. As I started to merge into the right-hand turning lane toward 183, I looked around trying to scope out the church. All of a sudden there was a loud boom and my car jumped the curb. It became apparent very quickly that my tire was going flat. I coasted into Tommy’s parking lot, got out of the car and went to survey the damage. There was a hole on the side of my tire about two inches by four inches – just blown out. How in God’s name I managed this, I will never know. And it happened while I was looking for one of God’s houses, so it really seems ironic.After the service, and after Eric put on my spare, I once again drove to Firestone. It was pretty easy for them to pull me up in their system – I was there three weeks prior for the same damn reason. After surveying the damage, the trusty mechanic once again had a comment. “You hit that curb pretty hard, didn’t you Miss Phillips?” I tried to answer him politely, though my face had the just-change-the-damn-tire-and-run-my-Amex-card-again look. I signed a charge slip for $189.55. Really? So what was the difference in price from last time? An added stupidity charge? Tire inflation? Sunday blue law surcharge?
Oh yeah, I forget to mention that my hubcap flew off during this blowout and had vanished into thin air by the time that church service concluded. The church is also a homeless mission and not located in a particularly great neighborhood. So at Toyota the next day, I got to burn up that credit card again for another $82.50.My less-than-nine-month old car now has two brand new tires and one brand new hubcap. But hey, I still have another year of free service and plenty of opportunity to ruin the other two original tires. The sad thing is, these unexpected car expenses are really digging into my facelift fund.
(Special thanks to all of those who have been purchasing products from Amazon through my portal. Remember, all you have to do is enter the Amazon site through the blog page and place your order within 24 hours. Nothing else is different.)