Thursday, January 07, 2010

How I spent my Thursday evening

So Brian & I went to visit his mom in the hospital (a story for another post - the short version is she has a cracked pelvis but there is really nothing to be done about it, just bed rest, pain meds, and slow increase in activity as tolerated) and when we left the parking ramp, we heard a strange thwap-thump-thwap as the tires rotated. More intrigued than concerned, I pulled over to the side of the driveway to get out and look, thinking there was a hunk of ice banging or some such thing (which, in retrospect, seems kind of not really possible, but that's what I was thinking at the time.) Well, no ice or snow - just one flat tire.

And it's dark.

And it's about 4 degrees out.

And I am not wearing heavy-duty gloves, or boots, or a hat, even.

BUT! There is a gas station - a Sinclair - just a couple of blocks down the road, so we decide if I drive slow, with my flashers flashing, we can get there - perhaps, maybe, hopefully, it's just a cold-related thing.

So off we went, down France Avenue at about 14 mph, to the station, where a nice young man came running - yes, running - out of the station when we drove up -- "Full Service at Self-Service Prices!" -- and directed us to the air pump. He then looked at the tire, and asked what was going on, filled it with air, and then got his magic spray bottle of diagnostic power bubbles to discern the real problem (he tried not to laugh when I feebly suggested it might be the cold?)

He had me drive about 9 feet forward, and then, yup, there it was. A big-ol'-honking piece of metal sticking out of the tire. The nice young man told us he could fix it right there, while we sat inside the car (on our heated seats), all for the whopping price of $15.50, if that was OK. I told him I would even pay him $16 to fix it, and into the car we hopped.

I watched out my rear view window as he tugged at that piece of metal, and tugged some more, and lay down on the frozen tundra-like ground, took off his gloves to better grip the pliers, and tug some more.

This is one tough Minnesota Dude.

He could not get it out. He called his co-worker. Co-worker tugged. Tugged some more. Could not get it out.

Time for Plan B. We will remove (and I use the word "we" loosely) the tire, put on the spare, and they will attempt to do tire surgery in the morning. Brian and I move to the station, where Nice Young Man sheepishly apologizes because just this morning the heater in the station went out, and it's 38 degrees in the station. He points to the thermostat which displays the 38, as if we wouldn't believe him otherwise. But they have a small electric heater which looks older than my grandmother, in the corner, earnestly trying to heat the entire room, and Brian and I hover around it while we watch Nice Young Man and Co-Worker out there, bare-handed, trying to get the spare tire off the back of my car.

They can't get the protective cover off. Brian goes out to help, I stay with the little heater that could.

They can't get it off. I brave the cold to see what's up. They are worried about ripping the spare tire cover. I, being the car owner, have no such illusions and I YANK on that puppy, and now they call me She-Ra.


So, now we just have to get the old tire off. Oh, did I have you going there for a second? NOTHING IS THAT SIMPLE.

Now Co-Worker tells me the old tire is rusted on and the lug nuts will NOT loosen. Co-Worker, Nice Young Man, and Brian brainstorm and they decide if they re-inflate the tire, lower the jack, and rock the entire vehicle back and forth while standing on the lug nut wrench, maybe - just maybe - it will work.

By now about 45 minutes have passed.

They try their plan, and IT WORKS!!!!! Great celebrating ensues. Well, in our minds, anyway, it was too cold for anything else. So. Old tire is off. Spare tire (which is full-sized, not one of those little make-believe baby tires) is on. They ask if I want the Tire Doctor to look at the tire tomorrow, and Nice Young Man is salivating because he really REALLY wants to see what that sucker piece of metal so deeply embedded is, so I humor them and say yes. We all go inside to trade contact information, and I steel myself for the bill.

Two service workers, one HOUR in the frozen air, lying on the ground with no gloves on wrestling with my frozen hunk-of-metal car, apologizing to me because they have (nearly) no heat in the station AND it is taking so darn long.



TEN DOLLARS. Written up as "put on spare tire."

Good service is not dead. It lives in Edina, Minnesota.

Please stop by there for gas or service and tell them She-Ra sent you. They have won my undying loyalty.


Anonymous said...

I LOVE finding places like that. I have a few gems in my area too. Wish I lived closer to patronize these folks.


Barb said...

I so loved this story. It came at a really good time for me because my experience in New York is starting to make me cynical.

thanks for this,

shawn said...

This is good to know.. that there is service out there.. especailly in this era of bad/I don't care service..
And when I go.. I will tell them She-Ra sent me....