On the way down to Santa Barbara, we blew out a tire. This is the second time there's been a flat tire when I was riding in Michele's car. The first was back in high school, on a trip to Newark, CA, to see the (terrible) play "I Hate Hamlet". I began to wonder if blown tires were the inevitable result of taking a long car ride with Michele, given that in 1996, driving to Newark was relatively longer and more intense than traveling to Santa Barbara is now.
While I am quite inept with many machines and technical matters, I can indeed change a tire, if you forgive two or three false starts and non-fatal mistakes. Given the string of men in pickup trucks that drove by to offer help, my work might not have saved much time. It did save me some emasculation. The shredded tire delayed us, but in no way derailed us, except that Michele had to make her second trip to a tire store in three days.
We attempted to psych her up. "Tire stores in Santa Barbara are gorgeous", I lied. Kristen insisted that in Santa Barbara, tire stores blow up a steel-belted radial on the hour, every hour. Based on my previous experiences in Santa Barbara, I thought the tire store employees might fill the hubcap with vodka and Red Bull, and refuse to give Michele her car back until she'd downed the whole thing.
The actual store was not as exciting as we'd fantasized. No one did shots, nothing exploded, no kegerators were powered by Die Hard batteries. Trying to salvage something from the visit, I tried to steal some trade secrets, by surreptitiously copying down the "Four C's" of successful Sears Tires customer service. I only got as far as "Communication" before the counter guy utilized the little-down Fifth C: "Cover up the list of Four C's".
It would have been a total ripoff had we not noticed the dirtiest tire name ever: Kumho. If there was ever a tire company that understood the importance of using quality rubbers, a company with a real focus on wet traction, a company that knew that their product had to stand up to a steady, rigorous pounding, that company is Kumho Tires.
We got the Bridgestone "Dirty Slut" model instead. And then the counter guy drew a penis on his sleeping co-worker's face, because clearly, the Fourth C is "chiefing your co-workers". God bless this town.