Few things can spread the holiday cheer like blowing out a tire on one of New York's
most chaotic roadways.
Nothing gets a person in the Christmas spirit like spending time on the side of the road
in the Bronx on a Saturday night.
Oh, come all ye faithful!
I must admit I had a bit of an uneasy feeling as I left Norwalk, CT. for a date sometime
around 7 p.m. A wave of queasiness rocketed from my stomach to my throat, perhaps
indicating I should take a knee and just lay-low for the night. In retrospect, I should've
listened to my inner self.
As I was barreling down the Cross Bronx Expressway trying to keep pace with the
maniacs that make that part of the trek into New York City a 'Black Friday' on wheels.
It's like a free-for-all, but with 2,000 pound cars and 10-ton tractor-trailers weaving in
and out, cutting each other off, hoping to get to their destination five minutes faster.
Hark, the herald angels sing!
I wasn't that much of in a hurry, but I had to keep the pedal to the metal so I wouldn't
get run off the road by the driver of an 18-wheeler amped up on caffeine so he can make
his seventh delivery of the day to Pedro's fireworks south of the border in some crazy
place in South Carolina.
There was a bit of a ridge in the road, I didn't see and I actually caught some air and
landed hard. My engine actually cut out and I had a "WTF?!" moment. Great, my SUV
was going to stall in the middle of the Cross Bronx Expressway. Thought I was a dead
man for sure. But I quickly put the car in neutral and re-started the engine. Whew! The
indicator for the RPM's got a quick workout, but I was back on my way.
However, about 500 feet later, I heard a loud pop, followed by some serious lumbering.
Ring, ring, ring Christmas bells!
The only thing it could possibly be was a flat-tire. Luckily, I was by an off-ramp and
took it to get off the Bronx Motor Speedway. I didn't drop any f-bombs or pound the
steering wheel with my fist. Didn't have much time for that. I had to figure out a way
how to fix the tire and stay out of harm's way.
The answer to the first question was easy: AAA. I've changed many tires in my lifetime,
but if I paid for AAA, you bet I was going to get them to change a wheel for me in
the Bronx on a Saturday night. For one, I'm just too damn old to be taking lug-nuts
off a tire. Plus, I didn't want to get my baby blue tux and white capezios all greased up
Silent night, holy night.
I was just hoping I didn't use up all my free 'passes' over the years for my other roadway
mishaps. I held my breath as I called and gave the customer service rep all the information
from my gold AAA card which I could hardly see. I left my readers at home. I can't read
a menu anymore without them and the small digits on a plastic card were nearly impossible
I was relieved when the customer service asked for my location and said someone would
be on their way shortly. Shortly? With AAA that usually means anywhere from 1-3 hours,
especially on a Saturday night.
Jack Frost nipping at my nose.
Staying positive seemed to be pretty easy despite the fact that I had a shredded tire and
an $1,100 bill for repairs I made to my SUV the previous day. Yeah, it was time for new
brake pads. I just wasn't too sure about the seal on some spot behind the steering shaft.
I thought the mechanic was shady, but what could I do but take his word and have it
fixed. I didn't have time to take it somewhere to get a second opinion.
While waiting for AAA in the Bronx, I texted my friend I blew up a tire and wrote:
'This is either going to end up as a "Seinfeld" episode or a 2-hour special on "Dateline NBC'.
After get a LOL response from my friend, I replied:
|Keith Morrison Dateline NBC|
"If it's the latter, please make sure Keith Morrison is the reporter. His voice can
make a Bar Mitzvah sound ominous and dark. He'd be perfect to describe the mystery
surrounding my disappearance after a flat-tire in the Bronx."
I was shocked when the AAA man showed up within 40 minutes of my call. The
man, who didn't look a day over 20, changed the tire with the skill and quickness of
a NASCAR pit crew member. Getting the damaged tire back into the tire slot under
the SUV took some time to engineer, but I was relieved when the AAA man wrapped
up the job and everything, including myself, was in one piece.
Here comes Santa Claus
Despite my ordeal, I was more than happy enough to tip the AAA guy $20. They'll tell
you they don't accept tips, but it was the holiday and I wouldn't let him hand it back. Plus,
he got their in record time and I wanted to reward him for that more than anything else.
Eh, it's just a tire, right? And it could've been worse, correct?
I guess it was just an unlucky weekend. With 2-miles to go on 25-mile bike ride the
next, I blew out the back tire. Getting pissed off wasn't an option. Neither was fixing
it. I was too dang tired and sweating so I just walked on home.
Happy Holidays, everybody. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems to be. Seriously. :)