In our family, it’s usually one of my two driving teen daughters who violates social distancing guidelines with her bumper. Recently, though, I experienced my own embarrassing accident on my morning commute to work when my SUV skidded on the wet roadway and struck a curb dangerously close to a Sonic Drive-In. (At the time, I may or may not have been daydreaming about the SuperSonic Breakfast Burrito — literally bursting with golden tots.)
Immediately after the impact, I could tell that something was terribly wrong as the vehicle began listing to one side — like my head does toward the sound of someone opening a bag of Dot’s Homestyle Pretzel Twists. I managed to coax the hobbled SUV past the Sonic and into the parking lot of a nearby bingo parlor. (Yes, I was in a really fashionable part of town.)
Once I regained my composure and realized that neither a massive breakfast burrito nor a thrilling round of bingo would be helpful at that exact moment, I stepped out of the vehicle to assess the damage. The good news was that there was no apparent injury to the body of the vehicle — and I wouldn’t have to make another humiliating trip to the paint and body shop where the staff gleefully shout my name and ask, “Which daughter was it this time?” when I walk in. The bad news was that I had blown both passenger-side tires.
Because I have the automotive acumen of a sea cucumber, two flat tires were well beyond my rudimentary abilities with any tool other than a cell phone. As I sat askew in the tilting vehicle awaiting the tow truck, I imagined that this sensation must have been similar to what the passengers of the sinking Titanic experienced — minus the certain death and all.
The tow truck driver was compassionate enough not to ask me what happened as he invited me to wait in his vehicle while he loaded up the SUV. (I’m pretty sure one look at me in my Texas A&M Aggie polo and polished dress boots was all he needed.) I directed him to take me to the finest tire shop in town. Since I was starving, this meant the one within walking distance of Wingstop.
After a thorough examination of the vehicle, the mechanics at the tire shop informed me that not only would I need two new tires, but I also required new struts, ball joints and a series of other parts and pieces that sort of blurred together in my non-mechanical mind. (I could have sworn they said I needed a new flux capacitor.)
I was so desperate to get through this ordeal that I didn’t even ask how much it would cost — or call my wife for permission. I just told them to do whatever was needed. And after a short five hours in the waiting room watching the Golf Channel and reading magazines from the late 1990s, I was on my way.
For about the cost of a liver transplant, I pulled away from the tire shop feeling more aligned and balanced than I have in years. I was a little disappointed, though, that the repair came with a generous amount of complimentary grease, grime and other shop dandruff spread throughout my interior. Then again, I’m sure the mechanics just felt sorry for me and left it there to make me feel manlier after they spotted the Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte hand sanitizer from Bath & Body Works in my console.
If nothing else, this experience taught me some humility — and to be more understanding when one of my daughters has a minor fender bender. After all, personal safety is what really matters, and there are very few car repair situations that can’t be improved with a large 10-piece combo from Wingstop.