Monday, November 24, 2014

under my wheels

My next-door neighbor rear-ended my car while it was parked (parked!) in front of my house. He rang my doorbell and sheepishly admitted to the accident (details of which were revealed by his mother later*) in an awkward exchange on my front porch. I contacted a friend who owns an auto body shop and my car was soon off for repair, with the entire cost rightly footed by my neighbor.

After a week or so, my car was returned to me as good as new (or as close to new as a ten-year old car can get). I was not really inconvenienced by its absence, as I take the train to work daily and I rarely drive on weekends. Why do I have a car then? Well, I'm not going to walk to the dry cleaners and I regularly go to concerts that are not at venues located on convenient train routes. 

When my car was returned, it was pointed out that both rear tires were in pretty poor shape. "How on earth did they even pass inspection?," was the actual assessment. I promptly made an appointment with my mechanic and I dropped my car at his shop the night before, leaving my keys and instructions in a sealed envelope that I shoved under one of the locked garage doors. The next morning, he called to say that the front tires were just as bad and he recommended replacing them as well. So, eight hundred bucks later, I was back in business. I got my car back just in time. That evening, I had plans to go to one of those "off the train route" concerts, this one remotely located in South Philadelphia.

Warning! Warning! Danger! Danger!
I hopped into my newly-tired vehicle and set out for the show. Just as I took the on-ramp to Philadelphia's notorious Schuylkill Expressway, I noticed the ominous glow of the tire sensor light on my dashboard. "Yikes!," I thought, "What didn't the mechanic do?" Here I was, doing 60 miles-per-hour on what could possibly be poorly-attached tires. Or maybe I had a flat. I lowered the radio and listened carefully, trying to slow down as cars whizzed by me on either side. The angry tire light remained at a steady amber gleam. Mocking me. Warning me of impending trouble. I pictured a tire loosening from its mount and bouncing across the four lanes as I skidded to my death on a bare, spark-spewing wheel hub. With panic being to set in, I frantically anticipated the next exit. I was approaching Girard Avenue and I passed. I was in enough trouble already without having to worry about the sketchy neighborhood surrounding the Philadelphia Zoo. ("Wow! A faulty tire AND he got shot seven times and robbed. Poor guy.") I opted for the 30th Street exit instead, where I would feel safer in the vicinity of a heavily-trafficked train station and several well-lit high rises. I pulled over into a taxicab stop and jumped out of my car. I authoritatively inspected each tire with a few kicks from my boot. I encircled my car a few more times, like most mechanically-deficient guys, half-expecting and secretly hoping a flashing neon light and a cartoon arrow to pop up and scream "Here's your problem, idiot!" But, no such luck. I called Mrs. Pincus and told her I was blowing off the concert and heading back home. She suggested I take a different route, avoiding the high-speed requirements of the Expressway. I obliged. I got back in my car and carefully maneuvered my way into traffic and through the city to Broad Street, a main thoroughfare, though punctuated by traffic lights at nearly every corner. I slowly drove the thirteen miles to my house.

When I finally arrived home after the grueling, white-knuckle journey, envisioning my demise at every trolley track and pothole, I dropped my car off at the now-closed mechanic. I scribbled a note describing my ordeal and, leaving my key, shoved another envelope under the locked garage door.

I called the mechanic bright and early the next morning. He said he was working on mu car as we spoke. It was not a problem. He explained that the tire sensors work differently in older cars and he only needed to make a small adjustment or two. He assured me that at no time was I ever in danger.

I missed the concert, but better safe than splattered across the asphalt... or however that saying goes.

Nice work there, Alex
* She told my wife that her son, Alex, was very upset by my reaction to the accident. I was puzzled by this, because I did not yell or even raise my voice. I slowly walked to the curb where my car was parked and evaluated the damage aided only by the illumination of a nearby streetlight. When I saw the giant crack in the spare tire cover, I muttered, "Well get it taken care of." and I walked back into my house to finish my interrupted dinner. I later found out that, near tears, Alex asked his mother, "Why doesn't Mr. Pincus like me anymore? He liked me when I was a kid?" Oh, I don't know, Alex, maybe it has something to do with you just hit my fucking car!


  1. Sometimes I think all this computerizing our cars is a terrible idea. Too bad about the concert.

  2. That must’ve been a very stressful experience for you, what with all those car problems. It can really be a pain in the neck at times, especially if one problem led to another. Thankfully, you have a reliable mechanic that you can count on in times like this. At the very least, you know that your car is in good hands. And speaking of which, how is your car now?

    Felicia Simmons @ Brandon Auto Repair

    1. My car is just fine, Felicia. Thank you for your concern.

  3. Awww! It's downright frustrating to miss an event just because of this car tire problem. Though, your decision to go home rather than to continue to go to the concert is really a great idea, since you cannot do anything about the car anyway. Well, good thing that your car was fixed by capable hands in the end. In any way, thanks for sharing this, Josh! Have a great day!

    Victoria Robbins @ Diviniti Auto

    1. Thanks for your concern, Victoria. And nice attempt at free advertising on my blog.

    2. Thanks for your concern, Victoria. And nice attempt at free advertising on my blog.

    3. Thanks for your concern, Victoria. And nice attempt at free advertising on my blog.