Posts Tagged ‘ cars ’

The story of a Tire.

Saturday was exciting.

My sister and I went to a birthday party for a baby. On the drive home, we were about a quarter of the way across the Ross Island Bridge when there was a loud popping sound, and the car lurched to the left. Using her super driving skills, Jessie kept us in the proper lane as a flapping sound emanated from the front driver’s side tire. We pulled into the right lane and stopped. She flipped on the hazard lights and I closed my mouth.

“Who do we call?” I asked.

“Triple A,” she responded, “But you’re going to call them while I call Chris because my phone is out of battery.”

I called and punched buttons until I got a real person on the line. I explained the situation to her, (“Hi, we’re on the Ross Island Bridge with a blown out tire,”) and she told me that a tow truck would be sent to take us to a safe spot for the AAA dude to change the tire. “I’m making you priority one,” she said, “We’ll send the closest available truck.”

While I was on the phone, a policeman pulled up behind us, assessed the situation, and put out some flares after Jessie told him we had AAA on the way.

Or so we thought.

We sat and waited for about twenty minutes. First, an AAA tow truck passed us going west while we were pointing east. We speculated that he was the closest truck and had to turn around to help us, but he didn’t. Then, another AAA tow truck passed us, eastbound. We watched his approach in the rearview mirror, (me grumbling about how it took him so long,) waved as he drove by, and fell silent as he continued across the bridge.

I called AAA to complain, and tell them to get us the hell off this freaking bridge, when a car slowed as it passed and pulled into the right lane in front of us and stopped.

A man in a day-glo green t-shirt stepped out of the car, followed by his wife. The neon man and Jessie conversed for a moment while I was still on the phone with the AAA operator, and I canceled our request for a tow truck when the neon man offered to change our tire.

He was shockingly quick about it. The entire process only took him about five minutes. His wife mentioned something about him working at Les Schwab for years.

Then the tire was changed and they drove away. We followed, and then I started freaking out.

Although I was late to work, things could have been a lot worse. I  mean, of all the bridges in Portland, we probably picked the safest one to break down on.

But still. Breaking down on a bridge was probably the most exciting thing to happen to me this month. At least it makes a mildly interesting story.


Bike Etiquette and Bethany.

Today I  was on the hunt for new pants, so I took my bike and headed east. Since I wasn’t feeling like risking my life today, I cruised down back roads, aiming for Buffalo Exchange.

When I got there, I discovered exactly zero places available to lock up my bike.

Sudden and irrational panic suddenly rose in my heart.

Was it okay for me to lock my bike in front of a store I had no intention of patronizing? Could I just pay that hobo a few dollars to not steal it? Was it kosher to park next to someone else’s bike even if theirs was immensely cooler than mine? What if someone blocked me in? Why was my bike lock so tacky?

My face bore no signs of panic as I locked my back on a partially available rack across the street from my destination. I commenced shopping, feeling woefully ignorant of some sort of Bike Code that I’m sure exists.

So I decided someone needs to write the Portlander’s Guide to Bike Etiquette.

It should contain answers to all of the questions listed above. Additionally, it should contain instructions on where it’s cool to park your bike, how old your bike must be for it to be vintage (80s, anyone?) a chart for how badass you have to be at biking before you’re safe on the main roads, maps of where it’s safe to ride without a helmet and where it’s not safe to ride alone, a formula for the ratio of number of gears to level of cool, and various other riding tips and rules that I don’t know about.

Also, instructions on how to exude that air of extreme badassery and devil-may-care that only bike couriers and serious commuters have.

And how to not get hit by vehicles.

How to Kill Time while Waiting for the Bus

  1. Draw the squirrel you saw pancaked in the road between your house and the bus stop.
  2. Send mass texts to your friends about how annoying Trimet is even if you secretly like it.
  3. Tweet a lot.
  4. Instagram.
  5. Write subtle responses to obnoxious graffiti. Ignore the legal implications, saying to yourself that you’re just making the world a better place.
  6. Obsessively count and re-count the handful of change that is your fare.
  7. Bemoan your bedraggled purse.
  8. Pretend to be homeless.
  9. Slightly awkward self-photos.
  10. Write lists of things to do while waiting for the bus.
  11. Glare at people driving by in an attempt to make them uncomfortable.

What’s your favorite way to kill time when you get to the bus stop too early?

A sort-of Success Story

On Monday my sister and her fiance and I went to the beach. Since I haven’t seen the ocean since 2010, it was a wonderful experience.

The day started out quite normally. While driving over we rapped along to Vanilla Ice and Will Smith (we ballin’, yo,) sang along to Adele and the Backstreet Boys, and bounced around to some of Jessie’s random dance music.

We found a beach in Oceanside, and after traversing through a mysterious and wet tunnel (in which I was reminded that Toms are terrible shoes for stepping in puddles,) we arrived at a stony beach.

My sister and I share a tick where we look at inanimate objects and see other things in them. For example, this might just look like a bunch of rocks to you–

But Jessie, upon sighting this stone, exclaimed, “It has a nose!” which became instantly evident to me as well.

And when I see driftwood, I often don’t see driftwood.


We took some obligatory posed dancer photos, which I may or may not add into this post once Chris-topher shares them with me.

But the photos are not the point!

After frolicking on the beach we were driving along the Pacific scenic highway, in search of another worthy beach. Suddenly, I realized that the conversation had shifted and Jessie and Chris were talking about teaching me to drive a car with a manual transmission. Since we were currently in such a vehicle, I started trying to backpedal, frantically, yet subtly. But as reluctant as I was to be taught the function of this type of vehicle by my sister and almost-brother-in-law (“I know how in theory,” I said, “Just not in practice,”) their stronger wills and my underlying desire to know how to do everything won out.

I found myself behind the wheel, foot on the clutch and hand on the… I don’t even know what it’s called, gear-shifter-stick-thingy. Since I’ve moved, I haven’t driven much– this excursion makes three times behind the wheel of a car since January, so I was like this.

My brain while driving such an unfamiliar car.

“Okay, shift into first and ease the clutch out really slowly while giving it a little gas,” Jessie instructed, patiently. After a couple false starts, I managed to get the car going, into second through fifth gears, and we were cruising along nicely until I had a sudden lapse of confidence.

I downshifted more abruptly than was probably good for the engine, braked, and pulled over into a little graveled driveway.

Jessie and Chris were kindly pep-talking me when two large pitbulls ran up from the house that belonged to the driveway in question. Dogs don’t scare me unless they’re barking and showing their teeth right outside my inconveniently open window. This interruption provided me with the motivation to continue driving again, and after again a false start (there were dogs in front of the car, okay?) I got out onto the road again.

I was gaining coordination and confidence, and Chris pointed to a park where we could park and eat our sort-of picnic. I slowed and turned without issue, shifted down to second, and started to park.

“Waaarrgh!” I yelled, “There’s no power steering!”

I cranked the wheel with difficulty, tried to shift into first, and killed the engine, halfway into the parking spot. I restarted, and per Chris’s instruction, let the clutch out really slowly without giving it any gas as to ease gently into the parking spot.

Thrice I tried– thrice I failed.

Finally on my fourth try, I scooted the car the remaining six feet into the parking spot before the engine jerkily died– but I got into the parking spot straight.

Overall? Success.


Yesterday I was scheduled to open the coffee shop, which means I have to get to work at 6:45. In the world of coffee that’s pretty freakin’ plush, but since I’m the opposite of a morning person I still am uncomfortable awakening early enough to accomplish this, especially when I’m greeted by the sight of a paltry snowfall– only half an inch, and a slushy half inch at that.

Lake Oswegians are crappy enough drivers on a normal day, and let’s be honest; valley drivers can’t deal with snow anyway.

So I leaped at my roommate’s generous offer of dropping me off at work. It was a quick decision, a brief weighing of two things that suck– walking home in the rain, or possibly getting hit by a crazy rich person whilst riding my wee scooter  in the snow/slush in the daylight-savings induced darkness?

I decided to walk home in the rain.

The ride over was positively luxurious– they say you never know what you have ’til it’s gone, and boy were They right. Work was characteristically uneventful, and so when it was still snow/rain/hail/whatever-ing at noon when I got off, I thought little of it.

“Whatever, rain,” I thought to myself, “I’m from Oregon! I can deal with this!”


The first few blocks were just dandy. My scarf and dual hoods kept my neck warm, and the wind beat against my back. I thought that was grand until I remembered that the final half mile to my destination was facing into the wind. I internally grimaced.

As I continued walking, both my route and the wind shifted so that the rain-slush was driving into my face. My raingear was failing me, and I became wetter and wetter. My glasses, covered in raindrops, were useless, actually obscuring my vision. I pushed them up onto my head. My bangs were drenched, clinging to my forehead uncomfortably. I thought, “Well, I might as well go for it.”

I partially unzipped my jacket and dropped the hoods to my jacket and sweater, freeing my hair from its damp, insufficient protection.

I trudged.

Just as I approached the final road to get up the hill to my house,  I realized something stunning– although I was wearing low-top converse, my feet felt quite dry. I had no water sloshing around my feet.

“Hah!” I shouted at the sky, “I showed you!”

Then, my blindness and pride cut me down.

Too late, I watched as my foot descended into a puddle– a puddle that was too deep for the paltry rubber sides of my favorite, hand-dyed shoes to protect me from.


The inside of my left shoe was flooded. I shouted some choice words, inconsiderate of the construction workers up the street who could probably hear me. They looked askance at me as I trudged past, probably appearing somewhat akin to a drowned rat.

I left a puddle in the entryway from where I stood to take off my jacket and shoes. My soaked clothing went straight to the dryer. My feet bore the signs of bleeding dye, a consequence of being discontent with orange converse.

Next time, I’m braving the Lake Oswego drivers.


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