Friday morning, I had to deal with one nagging problem: getting my tires fixed.
While I didn’t want to pay for new tires, I also was getting a little sick of being housebound. My tires were in too bad of shape to drive on the highway, and I wanted to be able to drive to my new job this morning (!!), but, after calling ten different tire stores in the area, I was quickly learning that Judy’s tires were a rare breed.
Eventually, I found a Discount Tire that had my tires so I headed there and gritted my teeth at they told me it would cost $350 (that was the discount) for four new tires.
While I was at the counter, getting that lovely quote, a man came in. He was older, with caramel-colored skin and and dark, curly hair. He appeared to be in his late 40s and he was talking loudly on his iPhone, with some sort of strong, but unrecognizable accent.
The store was big, and I was the only person at the counter. He came up and stood directly beside me. While he was, technically, forming a line, traditionally the phrase “getting in line” means forming behind the person being served.
At least that’s how I’ve always understood it.
He continued to stand directly next to me and blab into his iPhone, creating quite a distraction while I was trying to talk to the mechanic. I gave him a few dirty looks as I struggled to hear the mechanic over all his shouting and carrying on, but he seemed not to notice. After agreeing to sign over more than half of my just-sold Macbook fund to fix the car I’m beginning to hate — after the $500 alternator and battery repair last Monday or the $700 breakdown in September, who can blame me? — I walked to the customer lounge area to read my Kindle and wait.
I was pretty into my reading when I heard someone say, “Would you like some water?” It took me a few seconds to realize it was the guy from earlier, and he was talking to me. I looked up with what was most certainly a blank expression. He was standing in front of a small refrigerator which Discount Tire stocks with bottled water for their waiting customers.
So the water is, in fact, complimentary. And you can’t miss the fridge — so it’s pretty safe to assume that anyone who isn’t drinking a bottle of water made a conscious choice not to do so.
But let’s just assume he was being nice and not trying to start up a conversation with me based on “buying me a drink.”
“The water is free!” he said, and then he laughed. “So it’s not my water! I’m not buying you a drink!”
Oh. Wait. So he…was trying to start up a conversation with me based on “buying me a drink.”
He seemed delighted at his own joke (if you can call it that?) because he laughed again. I went back to my Kindle.
“So do you come to Discount Tire a lot?”
Hold up — did someone just actually say, “Do you come here often?” And did he say it in a tire store?
Normally, I’m pretty responsive to strangers, but I just wasn’t in the mood. I wanted to read, I wanted to mourn spending so much money on tires, and I wanted to do it alone.
“No, I’ve never been here before,” I said. “But I’ve always heard good things.” I looked back to my Kindle.
[This is true. Eric’s mechanic recommended Discount Tire, as did a few other people I asked. And despite the fact that $35o is no small sum, it was still better than Wal-Mart, Sam’s, and Firestone could have done for me. Plus, I was extremely impressed by Discount Tire’s store, service, and warranty program. Finding people you trust to work on your car isn’t easy but I will definitely go back to them when the time comes. But, God bless them, I really hope that isn’t for a while.]
“Oh, they are the best,” he said. I raised my eyes to look at him, but made no other effort. “I come here all the time. Today I’m here to fix my Mercedes! I needed new tires for it again!” Then he laughed again. What was so funny?
“Uh-huh,” I said.
[Eyes back to Kindle.]
He misread this as a lean forward and an “Oh, please, tell me more!”
“I live in a high-rise downtown and every time I drive into my building’s garage, I go over the speed bumps and it’s just doing a number on my Mercedes’ tires!” He laughed.
[Eyes to Kindle.]
“And then I had to get my custom-designed rims fixed last week too!” He laughed again.
I mean, it was almost like he was trying to relate to me — just like I had had to get my alternator and battery replaced on my 1995 Blazer and get new tires, he had to get his custom-designed rims replaced on his new Mercedes and get new tires. We were practically living the same life!
“I have three cars. I have a Lexus and two Mercedes. And when I got the second Mercedes, the tires are just, I don’t know, a meeeeee-leee-meter [that’s how it came out due to his accent] bigger, just the tiniest, teeniest meeeeee-leee-meter.” He laughed and laughed as he was telling me this. “And I’m just not used to that extra tiny bit, that teeny, tiny bit, so every time I am driving or parking, I always seem to run over the curb!”
“Yup,” I said.
He continued to laugh, perhaps forgetting, just for a second, that he was in a Discount Motherfucking Tire and not in the company of millionaires who would find this funny. Perhaps the other people waiting at the Mercedes dealership’s service center would have burst into enthusiastic laughter as the sipped on champagne while they waited for their new tires because they, too, were there because of an extra meeeee-lee-meter on their new Mercedes’ tires, and isn’t it just the most annoying thing that the new Mercedes couldn’t have the same tires as the old one?
Mercifully, his iPhone rang and he picked it up and started shouting — not angrily shouting, just speaking, but SPEAKING LIKE THIS BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT’S NECESSARY TO DO IN CLOSED QUARTERS IN PUBLIC — into his phone again. He paced around the store while he shouted for the next 20 minutes. As he paced, he’d get louder as he approached me, so I had the sensation I was listening to radio with a defective volume.
As I sat there, hating every inch in him, I wondered why, on earth, he was telling me about his luxury car problems. I was there stressing about a $400 repair for my 1995 Blazer. Trying to impress me by talking about his Lexus and his two Mercedes was like using a bazooka to kill a mosquito. Like, these days, I fall a little more in love every time Eric picks up the tab at Panera.
Had I been wearing a velour tracksuit and carrying a Louis bag, getting new tires for my gee-that’s-so-embarrassing-that-she-drives-a-2000 Range Rover…fine. But nothing about me that day said, “I only go to bed with millionaires.”
Then I got really indignant. I mean, given that I wasn’t wearing a ring, why hadn’t he really tried to impress me and just offered to pay for my tires? If he’s got money to throw around on a third luxury car and a “high-rise downtown,” surely, he can afford to pay $350 for sex.
I’m not saying I would have accepted, but at least then I wouldn’t have been forced to hate him.
On the one hand, I can see how Discount Tire on a Friday morning would be the perfect place to go to pick up down-on-their-luck women in need of supporting.
On the other hand, I feel caught between “OK, fine, just give me the pink tracksuit and support me! Fuckkkk itttttt!” and “I don’t need a man! I can take care of myself!” I think I need to pick a side and wear it proudly, otherwise, things like this are just going to continue to happen.