I knew I was taking a gamble, waiting so long to get my snow tires put on.
I love winter weather, but I hate winter roads.
Last night, the snow fell. And fell, and fell. This morning, I drove Paul to work, dropped Katie off at school, picked up Kelly for Bible study, and pulled into Michelle’s driveway ten minutes late, remembering at every stop sign and curve in the road why we once nicknamed our car The Ice Skate. All-weather tires might be fine for some, with their fancy anti-lock brakes and their four wheel drive, but when it comes to our Ford, we might as well be rolling around on plastic Big Wheel tires for all the grip they have. It’s only the first snow of the season, and already I’ve gotten stuck in the middle of a large intersection and slid through a stop sign right in front of a police officer (who seemed to be laughing too hard at the panicked look on my face and my wild brake-pumping to give me a ticket.)
And this morning, there were forty-three cars awaiting a tire change at Les Schwab in a line that just kept growing as the day passed. When I called a little before three to see how long the wait would be, the weary receptionist who answered the phone informed me that they weren’t taking any more cars today, thank you very much and try again tomorrow.
“How long?” I asked. “If I bring my car in first thing tomorrow morning, how long until you get to it?” “Well, we could probably have it back to you sometime in the afternoon,” she said.
“Sometime in the afternoon” does not work for me. I have a standing date to pick up a little girl who will not understand if I don’t show up in the school pick-up lane at 3:15 p.m. on the dot. Other tire places are equally swamped by procrastinators (you can tell the people who got their tires changed early by the smirks on their faces as they drive by), and I’m quickly despairing of getting my studs on before the next predicted winter storm hits on Thursday.
Finally, I think of Wal-mart. We’ve gotten our oil changed there many times, and I distinctly remember the sign on the garage saying “Tires and Lube”, so I give them a call. The prognosis is hopeful. If I drop my car off in the morning, I’m told, it will probably take until just past noon to get it back. Four hours at Walmart. Is that all? How hard can it be? We can do all of Caleb’s favorite things: tap on the lobster tank, get a free cookie at the bakery, visit the fish, look at all the toys in the toy department and press each and every button we can find. That will use up at least four hours, right?
No matter, I’m just happy to trade in The Ice Skate for a nice Cleat.