In the Desert, Ch. II
When we last left our hero, he had just had his tent destroyed, but you know that because you read Chapter II. If you haven’t, you should be ashamed of yourself and I hope your tent blows away.
After I finished writing last week, I went to Lowes for two reasons. The first is that it was the only place that was open at 8:00 in the morning on a Thursday. The second was in order to find a shovel. I was down to about $40 at this point, but after the events of the night before, I figured a $5 shovel would be a worthy investment, if only for my sanity.
Of course, it was not. I drove back to my hill and spent about 15 minutes trying to dig a ditch in what I quickly learned was a mountain made not of dirt, but of rocks. Like, just rocks. You would think the desert would be full of sand, but then you’d be wrong. Feeling sadder but wiser, I decided to go back into town. Historians would later term the decision I made at that exact moment as “a bad call.”
I got about a mile down the frontage road. Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any better, I hit a pothole. Actually, let me rephrase that. My front right tire fell into an abyss that, to be fair, I didn’t notice. I got a good couple vertical inches of lift when I hit the other side of the hole, and because this was a car and not a basketball player, I knew something was wrong.
Immediately, I heard the tell-tale flapping noise that you’d be familiar with if you’re the kind of person who has ever blown out a tire. Conveniently enough, I am the kind of person who has blown out a (great number of) tire(s), most recently my front left, only a week beforehand. The last time before that was two years earlier, when I was heading home from Raleigh for Christmas. I ended up having to get four new ones, which would turn out to be the gift that kept on giving (hint, hint.) I don’t know what I did to Santa, but I’d much rather have gotten some coal.
Having pulled safely to the side of the road, I sat in my car and contemplated my miserable luck. Here I am, alone and nearly broke, and I’ve spent almost the last of my money on a useless, stupid shovel. In retrospect, it wasn’t the shovel’s fault, but in times of anger it sometimes helps to externalize. I’m sorry, shovel, you deserved better. I was wrong.
With my misplaced frustrations out of the way, I put on my donut and got back in the car. I figured that I’d come up with a solution while I was changing it, but I didn’t. I started to look around the car for something to pawn, because I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I have my guitar, but I’m fairly fond of it and it’s also incredibly cheap, so that probably wouldn’t be enough to get a tire out of. It was in this moment that I realized “packing light” may have been a bad choice.
I looked in my wallet, thinking I could try and sell the $100 Wal-Mart gas card my mother had sent me before I left. This actually would not have been the first time I had to sell a gift card to survive, but that’s a story for another time. Wait a minute! I looked closely and discovered that the Wal-Mart gas card was in fact a Wal-Mart gift card. Oh, thank you, ghost of Sam Walton, and also my mother for writing “FOR GAS” on the card. The same lack of casual observation that drove me into a pothole also prevented me from wasting those sweet, sweet Wal-Bucks on the stupid kind of shit that I (and people who know me) know that I would have bought.
Emboldened, I drove as fast as I could (50 mph- worst donut ever) to the sanctuary of Wally World’s Tire Center. Turns out they don’t have a tire that matched the two I got the week before, but I figured that was fine, I just need my car to roll. While they set to fixing it, I set to finding some better tent stakes and a rubber mallet (because trying to hammer the stakes they give you in with rocks was evidently not ideal.)
Fun fact: the rubber mallet they sell in the camping section costs about 500% more than the one in the hardware section.
Turns out that if your tires don’t match, they can’t put it on the car for you. Weird. I changed the donut out for my nice new nonconformist wheel, and, rolling again, went on my merry way. Now my mission was to find replacement tent poles.
Not only did no one have “industrial strength” poles, the ones they did have were not big enough, nor were they cheap. I did, however, find a new tent that was the same as my old one, except one person smaller and two tiers cheaper. It also turned out to be blaze orange, so in the event that anyone decides to go hunting where I sleep, they probably won’t shoot me. Nice.
I drove back into the desert, and upon attempting to set up camp, realized that the poles in this tent were not only broken but the wrong size and missing links. I thought to myself that this must have been why the cheapest tent in the store was also on clearance. My day was approaching a comic level of misfortune, but I would not be deterred. I drove my happy ass back to Big 5 (an otherwise pleasant place that I would highly recommend) and prepared to attempt to bitch my way into a better tent. At least, that was my in-tent. (I heard that groan, just so you know.) Of course, the great customer service I received managed to prevent me from getting to yell at someone’s manager, so I ended up walking away with a fully-functioning replacement.
It performs surprisingly well for a $25 tent, with the exception of the fact that it’s about an inch too short for my legs. Oh well, people who were one gift card away from being literal beggars can’t be choosers, right?
The next day, I, being a man of many gift cards, went and saw Murder on the Orient Express with a theater gift card I got from my old job. With it being 10:30 AM, I was the youngest person in the theater by at least 40 years. It was awesome, and I now aspire to have a ridiculous mustache like the Detective in the movie. One day…
(Yes, I did name that file murderstache.jpg, get at me.)
I went back to work, and everything was going smoothly for a few days. If you’re as clever as I’m sure all of my readers are, however, you’ll know that that’s not how this story works. Since you’re so smart, you Clever Trevor, you, you probably also caught my very subtle foreshadowing earlier when I mentioned my Christmas Tires and their seasonally-appropriate ability to bring joy to the world. If you didn’t, better luck next time, sport.
As I’m driving to work one morning, I begin to feel the steering wheel wobble and think to myself, “This would happen again, wouldn’t it?” There’s a great saying about this, “If it happens once, it is a miracle and it will never happen again. If it happens twice, it will happen a third time.” I, being a person who is not a fan of math, had failed to count the number of tires that I had blown out and the common knowledge that good things always come in threes. As Hunter S. Thompson once said, “All energy flows according to the whims of the Great Magnet. What a fool I was to defy him.”
Christmas had come early this year. Not because I got any presents, but because it was fucking cold as hell, although I see where that could be confusing. My tire exploded pretty forcefully, and I ended up riding on my sparking rim for a quarter mile before I could pull off. Out of options at this point, I decided to accept the donut as the only option, and ended up somehow making it to work on time.
Speaking of work, Tesla has free cereal and I had no money, so, thank you for that, Elon Musk. Speaking of Elon Musk, it turns out that he was camping on the roof of the factory.
Despite my friendly gesture, he hasn’t responded. I’ll keep you all posted if that changes.
I ended up getting to work two days of overtime. My line of thinking was that if I’m at work, I won’t be able to blow out any more tires. Let me tell you, I patted myself on the back for that one. Fortunately, work is fun and, with the free food, I wouldn’t have to eat as much of the uncooked ramen I have in my car. Win-win, right?
The best part about living on a hill in the desert is that it doesn’t rain very often. The worst part about about living on a hill in the desert is that, when it does rain, it’s a giant muddy mess. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that my little Acura is neither a truck nor does it have great tires. The combination of those great features and the muddy nature of the hill meant that getting up it was going to be difficult.
Long story short, I got stuck for a good twenty minutes one of the nights. I did manage to get to the top eventually, so that was cool, but I couldn’t sleep in the tent, what with the torrential 36 hours of rain and all. Fortunately, I made room in my car. Unfortunately, my car is not pleasant to sleep in. Oh well.
There’s not really a humorous anecdote here, it just sucked.
I got my final check from Microchip on Friday. The good news was, I had money. The bad news was that it wasn’t a lot. I had just enough to get some Denny’s (try the Lumberjack Slam, it’s a revelation,) get my tire fixed, and theoretically put enough gas in my car to get me to work and Vegas for Thanksgiving.
Today I returned to Wal-Mart. It turns out that the tire I got was not only the wrong speed rating but also the wrong size compared to the other two, so I ended up getting two new tires. Oh, Sam Walton, you merciful ghost, you. Good man.
Thus ends the story of How Garrett Got His Roll Back for now.
Until next time!