Friday, February 22, 2008


That's it. I've had it.

I can't deny it any longer, Quad Cities: I'm in a funk. The world has been conspiring against me lately. Let's take stock of the current situation, shall we?

Our entire universe is covered with ice. The temps have dropped from cold to freezing to unsustainable-for-human-life. When it's not been sub-zero out, we've made up for it in treacherous snow dropped on us by the pound. It's been so abysmal outside that the only recourse is to hide out in one's apartment and watch TV -- but thanks to the writer's strike, the only TV option appears to involve grown men and women dueling one another with giant Q-Tips on "American Gladiators."

And, of course, to top it all off, this week finds me staring down the umpteenth Valentine's Day spent woefully single and alone (Eligible Bachelorettes: insert pity party here).

Suffice to say, the world is my bummer. I'm sick of bringing people down with exasperated sighs. I'm sick of answering "how are you today?" with mono-syllabic grunts of displeasure. It's time I brought myself out of these winter doldrums.

That's why I had a brilliant idea for this column. I would write an epic ode on things to be thankful for, even in this, the winter of my discontent. Spring is a month away. The writer's strike is ending and new episodes of "Lost" are on. Our company's parking lot may be a solid block of ice, but perhaps we could rent it out to the QC Flames as a practice rink. There's no need to be so glum. I was looking on the bright side. I left work that night excited to compose my cheery masterpiece.

So what if there was a -20 wind chill? (Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah!) Why fret over a new-fallen inch of snow? (Zip-A-Dee-Ay!) Who cares about THE FLAT TIRE ON MY CAR? (My oh my, what a sucktastic day.)

It was dark, it was freezing, and my back left tire was flat as a fritter. I got in the car, turned on the heat, and screamed every single one of George Carlin's seven words. I even made up a few new ones of my own. Then I called the only person who I knew could help me: Julie, my personal roadside assistance claims tele-representative. I might have been freaking out, but Julie had a good head on her shoulders, I could tell.

"Do you have a spare tire in your car?" she asked.

Well, let's think about this. The contents of my car's trunk, as best as I can recall: Two or three blankets. A bag of decaying garbage. Somewhere around 100 ruined cassette tapes. Shards of glass from the bonehead who put a brick through my back window a couple years ago. The body of Jimmy Hoffa. The lost treasure of the Sierra Madre. And somewhere, deep under that metric ton of debris, was my spare tire. I knew what had to be done.

"Nope," I replied.

"I can call you a tow," said Julie. "You said you were leaving work. What's the name of the business?"

"The Dispatch," I said.

"Okay, what dispatch?"

"The Moline Dispatch," I clarified.

"Sir, your tow will be dispatched from Moline. I need to know where you're at."

"I'm AT the Moline Dispatch office. That's the business."

"You're at a dispatch office for what business?"

"No, I'm not at a dispatch office. I'm at The Dispatch office."

Once we got the Abbott & Costello routine out of the way, she informed me that someone would be there lickety split -- provided, of course, that my definition of lickety split was in the range of 90-120 minutes. I hung up and called my friend Jason, who gets serious kudos for bringing out an air compressor.

"It took me forever to fill my bike tire with this thing," he told me as he hooked it up and headed back to the heat of his car. "This'll be a while."

"What's it reading now?" he asked me a few minutes later.

"I dunno," I replied, craning my neck to read the gauge in the dark, "forty-five something?"

Jason and I have been best friends for over a decade, and I have NEVER seen him move faster in my life.

"SERIOUSLY?" he yelled. "Oh my God, get out of the way!"

Truth be told, Paris Hilton probably knows more about fixing a flat than I do. But that night I learned that my tire holds 30 pounds of air pressure, and that we had just forced nearly 50 pounds into the thing and narrowly avoided the tire popping like a grape with my head inches away.

We got the tire filled as my tow truck showed up. Rather than risk my bumper to a tow, we had the truck follow us as I drove slow and steady to the one place open at 8:30 p.m. for a tire fix. The one place that defines everything that is NOT me: Farm & Fleet.

And it was a learning experience. Their nice staff hooked me up with a pair of new tires while Jason and I sought entertainment browsing the "Bowhunting" aisle. (And you know what? For as much of an animal rights guy as I am, if deer are dumb enough to be lured by cheap cardboard cutouts of 2-dimensional she-deer, then maybe they deserve the occasional arrow strike.) And in the absolute best moment of the week, I was perusing their CD bargain bin and found an exceptionally horrifying Best of John Travolta disc for four bucks (SCORE!)

So the world isn't so bad after all. I survived the flat tire, the farm, AND the fleet. I'm going to survive this winter, too. And hey, I might not have a girl this Valentine's Day, but the next time I do, she's getting a mixtape with some awesomely awful Travolta action on it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Aw, this is the kind of column that makes me want to come right on up to the QCs so that I can give you lots of big hugs in person. Darn you. ;-) Why do you have to live so far away?

BK in StL