Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Air Machine Jerkwad and the Puddle of Suck

I had lunch today in North Manchester with Rachael and our friend Katherine, and as I pulled away from the coffee shop, I thought, "Gee, my tire seems funky."


Remember how my brakes crapped out? And how they cost $180 to fix? Well, then I discovered my tires had also crapped out in response to the brakes crapping out, which cost me ANOTHER $180. When you are a librarian, you do not make a lot of money. This was $360 I did not really have. Part came from my birthday money. Happy birthday new brakes. And then the rest came from the money I would have spent on food. Skinny Laura.

So, I thought it was all okay. I thought I could drag myself out of soul-crushing poverty (brought on by student loans and medical bills) and maybe not live from paycheck to paycheck. Nope.

Because my tire was funky.

An Afternoon with Laura

I got out my tire pressure checker dealie and used it on my tire.

It only had 10 lbs of pressure or air or whatever the heck tires have inside them left. It was supposed to have 35 lbs. That is 25 lbs of empty tire. I poked it with my finger and it went SKOOSH.

Now, that means Tire Repair in my book. And, since the last time I had tire repair, it was $180 of hunger, I was Not Happy.

Add to this the happenings of various other aspects of my life that I can't talk about here (hence my silence of late), and I became a quivering ball of stress. I wanted to crawl under a desk and read The Name of The Star, but instead I was drooled on and then rained on.

I have decided rain should be called "sky-drool."

Then the random Twitter Stranger of Car Tires told me in his or her tweet that car tires should be replaced in pairs. And I was like, "I hate my life and I am covered in sky-drool. Can I go home and sleep now?"

I am always stressed about my car because Dad so often becomes fatherly, walks over to me, and asks me, "Are you checking your oil?" or says, "You should change your oil ever 3000 miles, otherwise your engine will freeze up and then explode." When he sees me do something to help my car, he becomes very proud and hugs me, which he does not do so much anymore since I grew up.

People-Pleaser Laura takes these things to heart. People-Pleaser Laura was now VERY stressed out, because if the Car Tire Twitter Stranger said two tires at a time, chances were that was what Dad would say, and then I would feel like a puddle of human suck because I cannot afford two tires, I can barely afford even one.

The Air Machine Jerkwad

On my drive home, I knew I would have to stop to add more air to my tire, but I decided not to stop in the town where I work because I might encounter one of the potential-rapist town residents that I see all the time at work. At the very least, I would be changing my tire in complete darkness, because none of the area gas stations have their air machines under any kind of security light. They are off to the side of the gas station parking lots, next to the pay phones. Who the frack still uses a pay phone?

Potential-rapists, that's who.*

So I pulled my car into the parking lot of our local gas station/convenience store and pulled right up to the air machine, which is mounted on the side of the building right under giant lights. The store was also still open, and the lady working could see me through the window that was directly between us, above the air machine.** I parked my car across like three spaces, so I could access my tire, because if I had pulled straight into a spot, it would have been difficult to reach my back tire. I was being Smart.

Earlier that day, I had placed a quarter in a secure location within my purse to be used for air. But now the quarter was gone. I started searching.

My phone rang. It was Dad. "Your mom is worried!" He said. "You haven't come home yet!"

"Dad," I replied. "It is not even 30 minutes after work. I won't be late until after 8:30. Tell her to start worrying then. Now, where is my quarter?"

Finally, I found it. I opened my car door and saw a man.

He had, apparently, pulled his car in right behind me. So close that, in my rear-view mirror, it looked as if he had scraped the side of his car into my car as he parked. Then he darted out, locked his car, and put a quarter in the air machine and struggled to yank the hose as far as it would stretch to reach his back tires.

I should note, at this point, that there is no freaking way anyone could have seen my car parked as it was and NOT thought I was there to use the air machine. I was even angled so my rear tires were closer to the air machine than my front ones. No one parks as badly as I had without having a REASON.

I watched the man struggle. Then he walked over to my car. And he knocked on my window. I looked up.

"I can't reach my back tires," he reported through my closed window.

"You want me to move now?" I asked.


I couldn't. He had pulled in so closely behind me that I could not move my now-wedged car without colliding with his clearly-expensive sedan. He unlocked his car and backed it away. Then I pulled out and around in a giant circle, so I could then re-pull up and use the air machine once he had finished cutting in line.

He locked his car again. Who, in the empty parking lot, was he worried would steal his car? ME? He was standing right next to it with his keys in his hand!

He carefully checked the pressure on each tire. He put another quarter in (he'd wasted the first one). Then he quickly gave two of his tires about a half-second of air. Then he hung the hose back up and pealed out of the parking lot in his fancy car, which I now saw was a Lexus.

He did not even NEED air in his tires, I thought bitterly as I put another 10 lbs of air into my further-deflated tire. Don't people know how to be nice to each other? Was he in such a rush that he could not wait in THE LINE FOR THE AIR MACHINE? He had to use his stupid quarter to cut? No one is kind to each other anymore, ever. They just cheat with their cheating quarters and charge five dollars per month to have a debit card.

Then I drove home.

Puddle of Suck Laura

It is worth noting that when I get angry, I cry. I also cry when people ask me if I'm okay when they think I'm not, even when I actually am okay. Their concern makes me cry. Ball of Stress Laura was no different, except that it was, if anything, easier to tip over from choked up to full-on ugly-crying and total self-loathing.

I walked in the door. I must have looked angry or stressed or both.

"Are you okay?" Mom said, putting down her knitting.

I spilled out the horror of the day, starting with the story of the Air Machine Jerkwad and moving backward to the other miseries of my life, highlighting the drool, the soul-crushing poverty, and the likelihood that Dad would want two tires, not one, and that there was no freaking way I could ever afford it.

But because I am in my household, a family that, for some reason, is filled with people who really care about each member's feelings, that was not all. Minutes later, Paul walked into the room and asked me if I was okay.

"I'm fine," I said.

"Are you sure?" Paul said. "You sound angry." (It should be noted that, to Paul, I have two emotions: happy and FILLED WITH ALL-CONSUMING RAGE.)

"I can't talk about it," I said, eyes welling with still more tears. "I will tell you later."

"Okay," Paul said. He stood in my doorway for several agonizing minutes, staring at me and waiting for it to be later.

Because closed doors don't mean anything in my family, Paul left my door open instead of closing it again after he walked out.

Dad came in. Dad, who would certainly try to convince me I should buy two very expensive new tires, to whom I would have to explain my poverty. I focused on Twitter.

"How did it go at the gas station?" Dad asked.

"I put air in my tires," I said.

"You know," he continued. "The tire place has a payment plan. You can get both tires and then pay them back a bit at a time."

I exploded into more tears.

"I cannot owe more money," I said. "I owe too much already, especially with that bill from the doctor Mom lost that is now overdue.*** I know that you want me to get both tires. But I can't. I can't even get my oil changed and it REALLY needs it. I know you are disappointed in me. But that does not change anything. I do not have the money. Where would the money come from, Dad? Where would it come from? I am sorry you are disappointed."

"What?" Dad said.

"You want me to take care of my car, but I can't, because I am a disappointment and I suck."

[Cue the touching, family drama music, just like they used on Full House]

"Aww," Dad said. "I'm not disappointed in you! And you don't suck!"

"Yes, I do," I said. "Because I cannot take care of my car. And now I am a Puddle of Suck and someone needs to find a rubber sack to store me in until I re-congeal into a person."

"Awww," Dad said. He patted me on the back. "You don't suck. You can just have them FIX the tire. Or you can replace the one you need to, and take care of the other one later."

And then he said more soothing things, because I somehow ended up with a TV dad. And then there was a father/daughter hug, because that's the only way a scene like that could ever end.

So now you know, I ended up the only mean one in a family that should be featured on ABC family for being so well-adjusted and supportive.

Also, that dude from the gas station was a total piece of crap for making me dissolve into stress-tears like this. He needs to be tracked down and set on fire.

*Certainly, there are people who are not potential-rapists who use pay phones. Other examples of people who use pay phones: Old people, drifters, prison inmates, terrorists, international travelers...

**Someone to call the cops should the local serial killer decide to pick me up and take me to a shack and chain me to a wood-burning stove.

***Mom called me at work on Monday to tell me she had found a bill of mine shoved in with a pile of her paperwork. The bill was, naturally, past-due. She then called the doctor and explained it was all her fault and they put a note in my file so I would not be called by creditors about a bill I never knew existed.


  1. I have to tell you: tears have welled up in my eyes--both over your misery and over your awesome family.

    Poor Laura. I hope things get better very soon. *hugs*

  2. Things are already better--sometimes I just need a good vent-and-sob to get over periods of extreme stress.

  3. Laura, you're a scream!
    You really outta publish this stuff, you know.

    Love, Dad