Husband and I have a little condo upstate that takes about three hours to get to considering traffic, a coffee stop, bathroom break, etc. We bought the place in 2003 when my parents and grandmother were dying all at the same time, and doing something kind and insanely expensive for ourselves was required. By me. Because of its not-near proximity, most of our friends have politely declined our offer to come visit, and settled instead for scenic pictures of the Hudson River view from our deck.
So we were overjoyed when our dear friends from Brooklyn, my bud betty and her husband hugh, whose identities I have disguised here by not capitalizing their names, accepted our invite to visit this past weekend. In preparation, I figured I’d take care of some small things I’d been putting off so nothing would interfere with our weekend. One of these was a blinking red light on my MINI Cooper dashboard telling me one of my brake lights was out. On Thursday I drove the hour to my MINI dealer to have it, and anything else that might be required, taken care of.
Here I have to admit that even though I was aware that my 3-year maintenance agreement was up, I figured how much could anything so minor cost? Five-and-a-half hours and $1500 later, I was left to ponder the wisdom of the extended coverage I had failed to buy months ago. Let me back up a bit and admit that half of that amount was for new tires, which I definitely needed and wouldn’t be covered anyway, but my aggravation surpassed logic. When the car was finally ready, it had weird brown spots all over the white roof. My service center’s response that I must have parked under a tree and been hit by sap made me go slightly ballistic. The next hour was devoted to three guys from service working to remove the stains with a variety of solvents, none of which were for sap removal.
The next day, Friday, I left for the condo to meet Husband, who had arrived there the day before since he had no brake light issues. Tooling along the Hutchinson River Parkway listening to a lilting James Taylor tune about drug abuse and suicide, my car suddenly dropped to the pavement and skidded sideways. My left rear tire blew out. My BRAND NEW left rear tire. Surrounding traffic swerved around me while I limped to the shoulder with that horrific fwup-fwup-fwup sound a thoroughly flat tire makes when you try and drive on it. As relieved as I was not to have been hit or even killed, I was still aware this was very bad, very bad.
AAA, it turns out, does not handle parkway breakdowns, so they sent a police cruiser that called for an authorized tow truck. The tow guy put that little donut tire on, which considering the size of a MINI, looked pretty much like I was driving on a Skittle. I Googled the nearest MINI dealer, which amusingly was a shorter drive from where I was than my regular dealer is from my house, and they fitted me with ANOTHER brand new tire. They regretted that they had to charge me, but advised I attempt to get restitution from my home dealer. I thanked them and thought, yeah, good luck with that. They’ll blame it on sap.
The weekend was fabulous. We shared delicious meals, picturesque walks, and great conversation with betty and hugh, and were so thrilled they made the drive to join us. Our children have known each other since pre-school, so we’ve all kind of grown up together; our children from childhood to adulthood, and us grownups from new parents to card-carrying AARP members. That’s a bushel of great memories to share. We even discussed making plans for a river cruise somewhere in Europe in the coming year. A great opportunity for new memories.
At the end of the weekend, I loaded the dishwasher and then remembered it never really worked. My fiddling around with the valves under the sink resulted in a total loss of water pressure to the kitchen sink and a notation to call the plumber our next time upstate. I won’t bore you with the story of washing the dishes taken from the broken dishwasher, except to say it involved a bathtub. I also won’t go on about the step I missed at the restaurant where we had brunch that resulted in a meeting between the floor and my right knee. Again, nothing an ice pack couldn’t fix. When we arrived back home downstate, I went to flush the bathroom toilet and the porcelain lever broke off in my hand. I actually began to laugh. Once your tire blows out on a crowded parkway, there’s not really much that can stress you. And a weekend with great friends is the best medicine for whatever catastrophes might come your way.
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