Sunday, August 06, 2006

Guess I shouldn't have made that left turn at Albequrque.

I discovered last weekend on a fabric run to Ventura with Jenn that the space between Santa Barbara/Monetecito and Ventura is suspiciously like West Virgina.

I also discovered I had a flat tire, which is how I discovered the strange cultural topography of Carpinteria and Summerland in the first place.

For those of you who have seen my car, you will know that it has two neat dents on the passenger side: a large one on the back passenger door courtesy of Sam and Kian's old apartment building and a small one on the front wheel well, thanks to my own shitty driving on moving day.

This is why I thought people were just being complete dicks as they pointed to my front wheel and motioned in confusing ways. "Yes, fuckass, I am aware that there is a dent. Thanks for being so observant."

Only after the third Samaritan pointed did Jenn roll down the window to hear people explain we had a flat. So we got off the road just past Montecito, in to Summerland, which bears absolutely NO resemblance to the faux-C show of the same name that allegedly took place there. It is also not particularly summery.

In Summerland, we pull up to the first gas station off the road and inspect the damage. Yes. It's flat. Awesome. We assume there's a nail in it. So we amble inside the convenience store to ask if there's a station with a service shop around. Inside, a leathery woman reeking of booze is conversing with a leathery man, wearing sunglasses, and smoking inside the store. They tell us that if we "drive about three miles down the road there, there'll be a 76 station with a service shop."

So we thank them and head on our merry.

But they really have no idea exactly how many miles down the road this place is, because we drove far more than 3 miles, upwards of 5 by my estimate, to this elusive 76 station. In Carpinteria.

Wouldn't it have been easier to say, "If you go down this road until you hit Carpinteria, you'll find a 76 station?" Then I wouldn't have feared breaking down by the fucking polo grounds and being devoured by rabid and angry horses.

Carp, as locals call it, is also somewhat desolate-looking. We pull into the gas station and drive all the way around to the back, thinking this will put us closer to the service shop. But we find no one available for service. Rad. This is so rad. Luckily, from out of the convenience store emerges a short, old man with a dingy baseball cap and spectacles so thick his eyes are magnified to three times their size. Oh yeah, this guy also has a grill like a dirty picket fence.

We inform him of our problem and all I can do is stare at his teeth. We pull the car over to the air box and he takes one look at my green-capped Nitrogen filled tires and announces that we have a problem, other than the flat. "These tires is filled with helium," he says.

Helium? Dude, you work at a gas station. Shouldn't you have a basic primer on gases? Like, at least to know that helium can not possibly be in tires. Or my car might float. I say might, because I really don't know how well helium holds up under 2 tons of pressure.

In any case, I hedgingly ask him if it is safe to put air in tires filled with things other than air, whatever they may be. He tells me to check my owner's manual, as though an owner's manual comes with the most-replaced parts of the car. All the while, Jenn has noticed that there is a man on a payphone who may and or may not have a glass eye leering at us as we sit in the car and read the informationless owner's manual.

Gas Station Attendant with a Mean Grill returns and knocks horror-movie style on our window. I think: imminent death. He tells us that he "called somebody" and they "said it was okay" to mix air with "helium." So I say, what the hell, fill 'em. At least we'll get to Ventura . . . if we don't DIE FIRST.

So he airs up our tires and slaps the hood to send us on our way. We say "thanks" and drive off wondering how the fuck we ended up in a scene out of The Hills Have Eyes.

The good part of this is that Ventura is a land of wonderous automotive innovation. Right across the street from Joann's is a place called Just Tires, where they happen to do work on just . . . tires. They took the nail out of my tire and patched it for $10 flat.

And brocade silk was on sale! Badass!

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