Most of life’s lessons sneak up on you when you’re least expecting them. Monday’s lesson was not one of those.
In a venture that I’m sure I’ll write more about in the future, Deserae and I have recently started selling things online. It has been going well. This Monday, it started going REAL well. By 6 p.m., we had tripled our previous high day for sales. At 7 p.m., we found a new treasure trove of items to sell. By 8 p.m., I had used the word “goldmine” at least three times. At 9 p.m., I sent a text with nine money bag emojis.
So when I drove into a pothole at 9:30, I knew I was probably due.
I hit the pothole while driving home from our goldmine shopping spree. Deserae was talking about something probably important, while I was daydreaming about spending our . In retrospect, it was foolish to do anything besides turn on my brights and drive 10 mph, because we were navigating a barely lit stretch of Brookpark Rd. that the city of Parma has apparently given up on. “If someone’s dumb enough to drive there at night, they deserve whatever they get,” is a phrase I imagine gets thrown around a lot at the Parma service department.
“Something something something,” Deserae said. “Something something some…”
Deserae stopped talking. I gave her the face I make whenever I hit a pothole () and continued driving. The car started making a weird sound.
“That sounds like a flat tire,” Deserae said.
“What? Mmmmmmm, no I think it’s fine,” I replied, using my favorite tool for dealing with car problems: unfounded optimism.
The weird sound got louder. The car started leaning left. We drove in silence as I tried to harder to imagine everything was OK. Finally, at a red light, I got out to assess the damage.
“Was I right?” Deserae asked when I got back into the car. I did not answer. Instead, I limped the car to the nearest parking lot. We pulled in, moved all the stuff we had just bought from the trunk into the front seats and got the spare tire.
Deserae looked at her seat, now piled with junk. “Should I just wait inside the store then?”
The parking lot we’d pulled into happened to be attached to the State Road Beverage and Liquor Agency (Beer! Lottery! Check Cashing! Fine Wine!), a place one only goes to at 10 p.m. on a zero-degree weeknight if things are going horribly wrong in that person’s life. At that moment, a car pulled up next to us and a girl got out wearing the type of dress you can really only wear if you work one occupation.
“Please be careful.”
Deserae went inside, and I got to work trying to figure out which way to turn my jack to make it go up. As has been discussed before, I am not the handiest of men. So by the time my dad would have been done with the job, I was just starting to learn that my hubcaps do not pop off, no matter how hard I pry.
After a half hour of frostbite and futility, Deserae came back out to check on me.
“How’s it going?”
“I keep seeing people park next to you. Has anyone offered to help?”
“Should we call…”
“I can do it myself.”
Deserae sighed and cleared out spots in the front seats for the two of us. She got in and watched me, occasionally poking her head out to offer helpful suggestions like “why don’t you take a quick break so you don’t freeze to death” and “do you want me to call the roadside assistance we have through our insurance?” and “can you try to not break my wheel?” I met each suggestion with a snarky response, followed by a few minutes of doing things my way, followed by begrudgingly doing things her way.
The low point of the night came when I cracked the hubcap and learned that I had declined the $8/year roadside assistance when I bought our insurance.
Then, just as I was about to give in to the temptation to smash the rest of the hubcap off, a light from heaven shone down on the wheel. I looked around to find that the light was not coming from heaven, but rather the headlights of a Good Samaritan seeking beer/lottery/check cashing/fine wine. I waved my thanks and got back to work. The light revealed a hidden spot to pry off the secret mini hubcap Hyundai had inexplicably used to cover my lug nuts.
Ten minutes later, the job was done. I thanked the Samaritan again and left for home.
As we finished unloading the car at home, Deserae shook her head.
“Well that was not fun.”
“My butt is still numb.”
“How much do you think it’ll cost to fix.”
“If they can’t patch the hole…”
I looked around at all the stuff we had just bought to resell and make bags of cash.
“…Probably about that much.”
UPDATE: I am writing this from Firestone, where I just learned the cost of the repair. It is almost EXACTLY that much.
LIFE LESSON #57