Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Rolling Tire Gathers No Moss

I'd never changed a tired in my life until this summer. I've had several flat tires, but that's not the same thing. When I was about sixteen and out with the family station wagon rather late at night I turned a corner, heard the strangest sound and wondered why the steering wheel felt funny.

Turned out I had two flat tires in the back and ended up calling home and hauling Dad out of bed to come rescue me. I still remember the irritation I caused ("Two flat tires?? How does anyone get two at the same time? What am I supposed to do with two??" Or something along those lines). But the point is, it's payback.

A month ago while using Andrew's car I had my first flat. But not to worry, I got out the book, jack and spare and 20 minutes later I was on my way. I actually felt a little excited about the whole thing, I'd always wondered how I'd do changing a tire and my amazing, newly discovered abilities in the tire department wowed me. Look how cool I was--I even got a bit of grease under my nails.

The second time around I was a little less excited. Two weeks ago I was sitting in the car waiting for kids at the park when a passerby pointed out the flat. This was on my minivan and I wondered if it would be any trickier changing a much bigger tire on a bigger car, but once I'd figured out where they'd hidden the spare (it was pretty much soldered to the bottom of the chasis and required the Jaws of Life to wrench off) it wasn't too much longer before I was again feeling mechanically empowered and was on my way.

However, the coincidence began to gnaw. It was like an echo from my past, "Two flat tires? How does anyone get two flat tires?" and I started thinking. Both flats had been on the same side, same location. Odd. Both had been easy to patch because they were from nails. Hmmm. It could be just one of those things but I wanted get to the source. I'd been relatively lucky so far, I hadn't faced changing a tire alongside the highway at midnight dressed to go out with rain pouring down, but third time's a charm.

Follow me then to this week when I had to take the van in for some power steering repairs. Our good buddies over at The Alignment Center (we've singlehandedly financed their children's college careers) had it up on the lift and happened to glance over at the tire and found--strange--an embedded nail. They patched it--count up $20 more dollars--added it to the bill and called for pickup. That night, while munching our meal with the kids I asked Andrew what the final bill had been. It was at that point he casually mentioned the tire repair. He didn't think anything of it but I, however, dropped my fork.

"Another flat tire? You're kidding? Which tire was it?"

The kids kept eating while he consulted the invoice and reported that it was, once again, that same driver's side front tire that seemed to be magically growing nails like mushrooms sprouting from the tread. Everyone else kept up the chatter while I pondered the new development.

Three flat tires. One garage. Four children and lots of nails. Suddenly, there it was, and like the great detectives of legend I had it.

"Spencer!" The poor kid jumped.

"What?" He must have known what was coming because he paused mid-chew and seemed to shrink lower into his seat the longer my eyes were upon him until he was hiding behind a glass of milk.

"When you are building stuff in the garage--you know, hammering and sawing and painting--are you cleaning the workbench off?" (The word "clean" used in it's most optimistic sense of course).


"Do you clean up all the nails and screws and scraps?"


Here my eyes narrowed and I swooped in for the kill. "What do you do with them?"

I knew I had him. And suddenly he knew it too. He didn't know how or why but he must have felt death's icy fingers on his neck because he grew a little pale--well, paler than normal--and he stepped up for a valiant effort to prove his innocence, to prove Mom had the wrong man.

"No, Mom, I promise! I clean up every time. I sweep it all off the bench onto the-" and here he stopped. He paused and his eyes grew a little rounder and I could see the little wheels behind them turning and grinding out the answer. It was then that he felt the frantic coming on.

Yes, it just so happens that my fine young cubscout who loves to hammer and saw and retreats to the garage to create fantastic wooden contraptions from scraps was "cleaning" his work bench by sweeping all the extras (i.e. bent and unused nails) onto the garage floor. Under my car. I guess he must have gone by the old "out of sight out of mind" principle and didn't realize I'd go out of my mind once I realized where all my flat tires were coming from.

I don't know what all he's doing down there in the garage, but evidently it's not rocket science. I doubt I'll get much sympathy from my father.


local girl said...

LOL! Poor Spencer! I can just imagine what went through his mind when it dawned on him how the tires were getting flat!

Thank you for sharing this with the Carnival of Family Life.

Lisa said...

At least he was trying. I can just picture Spencer's face when he realized how he was connected to all the flat tires.

Here via the carnival of family life.