Tire Story–A Quad Synchronicity

Tire Story—A Quad Synchronicity

or Turning your Synchronicities into Synchroniceites

by Ted Denmark

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I had gotten a used but still good set of Bridgestone all-terrain tires about three years ago for my classic first-generation ’87 Toyota Four Runner—the first SUV (!)—with big off-road tires and felt very lucky since this odd-sized 15½ inch tire was no longer used on newer models and had become hard to find. Julie and I had driven back from Pagosa Springs, CO to California on them, and since then they seemed to last reasonably well. Just recently I had noticed from hard-steering that the right front tire evidently had a slow leak, so I finally stopped and pumped it up before heading down the hill from my house to Murphys, CA. I also used the gauge to check pressure of the other three tires while my home-made electric air-pump, which I had made from a paint sprayer unit and a small surplus pressure tank, was still out and running. No problem: all the other tires were at their right working pressure.

After leaving and traveling at moderate speed on a nearby smooth and level asphalt road, I suddenly heard a loud metallic bang from the other side of the truck, like hitting something lying on the road. I was surprised since I hadn’t seen anything lying on the road big enough to make such a sound … and kept driving but felt suspicious since I had just pumped up the front tire on that side. When I got out on the main highway, I was still rolling along ok bit sensed that something might be wrong … then the suspicious muffled sounds began, and I could feel a bit of sway in the ride. I just happened to be rolling past the road to my mechanic’s shop at that very moment so I quickly decided to pull off–I had already slowed down—and get over to his garage, only a short distance away. I pulled up in his driveway, got out and hurried around to the other side to check my right front tire. It was fine—but to my surprise, the rear tire on that side was dead flat! Well, that certainly explained the problem.

My mechanic Greg came out and saw my plight and got busy with his rolling hydraulic floor jack and an air wrench, telling me he could put my spare on (if I had one) and get me back on the road, but he didn’t fix tires anymore. I said great and went crawling into the back cargo area to look for the cranking tool to lower the spare from under the rear deck. It was there, and he got busy spinning the lug nuts. This was lucky, I thought, and I chuckled to myself with one of my little aphorisms, “If you’re going to have bad luck, it’s important to have it in a good place!” Greg was not only a cracker-jack mechanic keeping old “Toy-autos” like mine running, but a good guy since he declined to write me a ticket and just said, “We’ll get it next time.”

I was put rather quickly back on the road, feeling a little nervous since my spare was a still older tire, even though it looked serviceably “good enough.” I got my baked goods and groceries and had a good high-fives update with the clerk at the local organic food market, who plays sax in the best local band, “Jill and the Giants.” With that I was soon back on the road up the hill to Arnold, now with a fix-it job for the tire store. I checked my tires to see if the spare was still looking fully inflated. It was. I pulled into the tire shop off a very crowded Highway 4 for a Tuesday in our neck of the woods, and the tire jock was just pulling a white Bronco out of the bay and motioned me to pull up. I got out and told him I had his next job and went around to extract my flattened tire out from behind the passenger seat. He bounced it on the ground, and said he had to put air in it to check it out. It only took him half a minute to find a big hole in the tread, telling me there would be no way to fix it since one of the belts had been blown … but amazingly enough to him, he had just gotten a good used tire of this rare size in and could make me a deal on it. Did I want to see it? Well, yes (!). He soon returned from the tire bin rolling another big tire for me to check out. It wasn’t the exact same tread pattern but a close variant and was the same rare right size of the same tire brand. It would do for a spare.

He had to swap wheels and tires to get the right tire on the right mag wheel to make a running matched set for “four on the floor,” but it was quickly accomplished by the tire monkey listening to loud head-banger music, and I was soon waiting my turn at the office register, like in a barbershop, listening to well-versed locals discussing what to do about getting a better crop of peppers … before paying my tab. I chuckled to myself, musing “Well, if you’re going to have bad luck with an old sport truck like mine, you need to have it with someone who’s got the right goods.” I drove out feeling lighter for having dropped $50 in the hopefully final part of the tire story at this tire store, thinking, wow, this was an amazing extended three-part synchronicity … What are the odds? I wonder if our space spooks had anything to do with it (?). I’m sure it would fit Hilarion’s inflated sense of humor {:-)

Postscript (a week later):

Here’s the final one of the new total of four circumstances (and actually the first one) that did not occur to me when I originally wrote and titled the piece, “Tire Story—A Triple Synchronicity.” But four items make a better tire story than three (you can guess why), and this final “first part” is probably the clincher. It happened when I was out recently picking up some larger-sized rocks that had probably been put down by the county on our local road, a gravel access road, called Dowd’s Landing, just as it makes a turn at the foot of a longish grade before crossing Love Creek and merging with the paved Love Creek Road. It was probably when I was away in Colorado earlier this year when these larger rip-rap pieces had been put down for some unknown reason in lieu of the usual fill of smaller paving gravel. The greenish appearance meant it had come from the old Jack Ass Hill Quarry (where Samuel Clemmons, aka Mark Twain, once had a cabin), and driving over it was noticeably and unpleasantly bumpy. It occurred to me this was going to be a problem as I slowed down to roll over the bigger chunks that seemed to be mostly put into shallow depressions in the wheel tracks.

I finally decided it had apparently fallen to me to do something about this, so I stopped on one return trip from the local dump to pick up the most obvious large sharp rocks and put them in back on the pickup bed. I piled up a goodly haul of maybe two bushels of the sharpest rocks there in the hot sun and got them back to my place to put on my rock walls (that featured green California Serpentine!) and felt a certain pride of accomplishment. When I made a second effort the next week to get another batch of this green rock off the road, I parked off to the right as tight as I could, expecting I would still be leaving plenty of room for the sparse road traffic to get by. After piling up another batch of these rather handsome jagged rocks, I suddenly heard the easily recognizable rumble of a loaded log truck coming down the grade ahead of me. I quickly tossed what rocks and tools I had in hand into the bed, whipped myself into place behind the wheel, cranked the starter and got ready to roll.

By that time the cab of the big 18 wheeler log-truck churning up a huge dust cloud, was almost directly in front of me, maybe 20 yards away, and getting ready to pull into the curve, as it turned out, without slowing down. I also quickly realized that I was in some jeopardy as the long log trailer began rapidly angling towards my vulnerable parked position. The driver, whom I did not get a glimpse of, was obviously feeling optimistic that his rig trailer would clear my little white Toyota pickup as he rolled by, evidently without a care. I instinctively jammed the stick into first gear, popped the clutch, and lurched forward just as the edge of the trailer must have cleared my cab by only inches—I even thought, oh well, here goes a bad judgment call on both our parts … But miraculously, my rapid response just pulled me out of the danger zone in the split second needed, I thought, as I drove up the grade in relief and near disbelief that I had such a close call and was now freely making my way home undamaged (!).

It took me until the next time I drove into this nearly blind bend in Dowds Road … and pulled well off the road into the parking place on the other clear-view side to pick up a few more of the larger rocks … when it finally occurred to me that the reason for the tire blowout on my old Four-Runner several weeks before was that it was indeed very likely that my tire had gotten damaged by one of these sharp green rocks that I was now picking up for the third time! I had been right. I felt these big sharp rocks were a danger, and, even though I was picking them up, I was still the person who had already been victimized by their having been dumped on the road. My instinct in attempting to solve the problem had been correct, even if I failed to get it done in time, and so I still managed to roll over a sharp stone and have a low-speed blowout just a little further down the road as reported, the main event in the synchronicity series (!). The feeling of a need for tire maintenance (I had checked the pressure of the tire that blew out) had been what I thought was the first synchronicity to begin with. The log truck incident may have been thrown in as a freebie, perhaps as a lesson to sharpen my sense of trouble looking for a place to happen as another even more careless unintended consequence—one of the many possible things synchronicities as meaningful coincidences, are meant to do to get our attention, for one reason or another.

Well, as I still say, if you’re going to have bad luck and trouble, try to find a place where you can at least see it coming (especially if “Jack Ass” anything is involved) … and first try to solve the problem in a rational way, but if you’re still caught in the crossfire … run or drive like hell to get out of the way!

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