It comes from out of nowhere. One second I'm dreaming of chasing bunnies across an open field, then the next, I'm getting a semi-slap and push from behind towards the brightening day. "Why are you hitting me?" I'm still not sure if I'm actually awake at this point, but I hear these words coming from my mouth as if from a great distance away.
My wife, the slapper, tells me something I pretty much already knew, "You have to go get the tire fixed today. Call up the guys at Five Star Auto in JC and let them know you're coming."
"Can't I sleep a little while longer?" I ask. Bringing no response, the answer to this last question is, of course... No. "Okay, okay, I'm moving!" I say this as I roll toward my edge of the bed, rotate my feet toward the floor, sit upright and begin the morning ritual:
- Trip over the Golden Retriever on the way to the bath room
- Flip on the light switch, even though it's not really dark in there
- Use the toilet
- Walk to the sink
- Turn on the water
- Splash water onto my face
- Wonder when I got so 'old-looking'
- Brush teeth
- Open door striking Golden Retriever on the snout once more as she has resettled directly in front of the door again
- Apologize to the dog (although it's really HER fault)
- I wonder aloud to no one why I was dreaming about chasing bunnies across an open field
- Lumber down the hallway to the kitchen to feed the dogs
Oh, that's right, I went to bed happy... After those guys changed the tire last night my faith in mankind was reaffirmed - for this night, at least, I sleep like a baby.
Ah, but it's a brand-new day, another day of untold greatness and opportunities - time to get busy and make the drive to the shop where we bought the car.
I arrive to the store at 10:20 and find Scott, the mechanic extraordinaire, standing in the open garage door, smoking a cigarette and grinning at me. "I'm so proud of you that you were able to change that tire all by yourself. You're such a big boy now Mikey..."
I could have let him think that I kicked the dang tire off the car by myself, but I told him the story I posted here the other day. I found myself leaving out the feel-good 'gushy' parts, and focusing more on the 'manly aspects' of the story (i.e.: Cursing when my shoulder popped because HE put them lug nuts on WAAAAAY to tightly last time he rotated the tires), how I thought I heard a bear sneaking up behind me when I was down there jacking up the car (turned out it was a man walking a large brown dog on a leash), and how I single-handed put four quarters into an air dispenser and tried to pump up the tire... Myself!
Scott is so proud of me that he laughs out loud. I'm not sure why he laughs. I didn't say anything funny, and I could have really hurt my shoulder trying to get those lug nuts off. And if the car fell on me, well, I could have been crushed. Me, left twitching on the ground, in a pool of my own blood as my spleen is mashed, my organs ground to paste, and my life wafting away from me like the smoke from his cigarette's glowing tip.
"You laugh, but I could have DIED! I could FEEL the Angel of Death looking over my shoulder! It was a very close thing..." I said.
"Buddy, that was probably your wife looking over your shoulder." he said as he took one last drag on his cigarette.
He is right, of course, my wife was looking over my shoulder the entire time but I am not going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he is right. The Angel of Death COULD have been looking over her shoulder AT my shoulder - yeah, it could have happened that way...
"Bring the car in; let's see what you did to that poor Cooper tire." He says.
I skillfully pull into the service area without striking any other vehicles which sit beside me in varying states of disrepair on my left and right. I pop the trunk, Scott pulls out the tire, looks at it, looks at me, looks back to the tire and says, "Is this the one that's flat?"
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's the one since it doesn't have ANY air pressure in it." Yes, this is the guy I trust my life to every time he repairs one of our cars...
"I know what's wrong with it," he says.
"Me too, but you got something more for me since I already told you that it is flat?" I ask.
"Well, the first thing is that I can tell that your wife drove on it for a while before she stopped and you showed up..." he says.
"Oh yeah, how?" I ask.
"This." He turns the tire around so I can see the back side of the tire. Apparently tires have an 'outter' side, as well as an 'inner' - I may not be bright, but yes, I can be taught. "This is not a good thing."
Scott's cigarette droops as his eyebrows raise at the same moment. "Mikey, a Faith Healer couldn't bring this tire back - it has holes in it. I wouldn't use this tire for a rope swing. My kids'll drop through it when the rubber gives way."
"Oh, I knew THAT." I said. I actually DID know it, but he laughed at me when I told him about the 'Bear Dog' which almost ate me for dinner - so there...
"I've got an old tire I can put on until your tire comes in on Monday. The distributor is shut down on the weekend so I can't order it till then." he said.
"Wow, a 'junker tire' on my wife's car, she'll love you sooooo much!" I said.
"You know what, I have these snows I ordered for another customer who's bringing his car in Monday afternoon. Let me check something..." he says as he walks over to the short-stack of two snow tires. "They're your size. You want 'em?"
"Heck yes I do. Will you mount them, put air in them, balance them, and slap them back on the car for me?" I ask.
"You want to save the good tire that's on the back of the car, right?"
"Yes Scott, I would like to save the 'good tire' so I can buy a mate for it in the spring when we pull the snows back off..." I say.
"Okay, give me about twenty minutes." he says.
It's much quicker than this before I see him again. Worse yet, he's not smiling (and he's almost always smiling). "What's up Scott?" I ask him.
"Is someone mad at your wife?" he asks.
"I don't think so, why?" I ask.
"Come out here for a minute." He turns and begins walking back out into the garage area. He stands up the 'good tire' he just pulled off the driver's side of the car and points to a section of sidewall. "Someone has cut it, either with a knife or a box-cutter." he says.
"No way," I say as I bend down to look at the tire. I see a slice about three and a half inches long across the sidewall of the tire. It's not incredibly deep, but it's long and it's almost a straight line. "Are you serious?"
"Yeah, I checked the two front tires and they're fine, but someone did this on purpose. I looked to see if I could find anything on the flat tire, but the sidewall's too banged up from all the driving that happened after it went flat." There's no smile on Scott's face now, he's not kidding.
"Okay, let's rotate the snows to the front of the car and you keep these two tires, once the sidewall's damaged, they're pretty much shot, right?" I ask.
"I wouldn't put my wife on this tire - it will fail. She'll hit a bump, drop into a pothole, tap a curb at the right angle and this thing'll blow wide open," he says.
"Scott, thanks for finding it." I say.
"No problem. Sorry... I'll get the new snows mounted for you and get you out of here." Scott says.
I drive home on our spiffy new snow tires to tell my wife the news that someone, for lack of a better phrase, 'Has it out for her'. Or it could have been a 'Random act of Meanness', but I'm thinking not.
See, my wife is a Nurse Practitioner, she has patients coming into her doctor's office looking for cures to the common cold, Diabetes, Gout, Scurvy, and the normal selection of modern medical maladies.
However, there are also others who visit her doctor's practice.
These are the most interesting group of health care patients no one speaks of: Drug-seekers.
They can be rich, middle-class, or poor, it doesn't matter, they're from all socio-economic backgrounds. Apparently the desire to get prescription drugs offers an all-inclusive allure to them. They might be 'using' themselves, or 're-selling' prescription drugs on the street in order to supplement their incomes (it's the 'Economy' you know...).
To make a long story short, there is an entire economy out there of which I was blissfully unaware until my wife began her new job as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Graduate programs do not teach FNP's how to address the situation, but it is widely known in the practice of medicine by those folks who experience it daily.
Several weeks ago my wife had a patient from out of the area who was a state employee. An employee who works with children. The patient had driven almost an hour to seek medical treatment at my wife's office. Why? Because when you're drug-seeking, you don't mind driving a few miles to find your next provider of narcotics. Additionally, all your regional providers know who you are and stop writing prescriptions for you since they know what you're up to. It's that whole pesky "Supply and Demand" thing we learned in Economics 101. Someone stops supplying, you need to demand elsewhere...
The patient arrives at my wife's place of business with a shopping list of medications she needs prescriptions for. Each prescription is for what is commonly deemed to be a 'Controlled Substance'.
I wasn't there, I don't know the conversation (because my wife cannot tell me details of anything due to HIPAA privacy legislation) but what I do know is this, she really ticked off this person who works with children in a town within sixty minutes of my wife's office in a non-descript town which I cannot tell you about (because I don't want to go to jail).
In the end, the patient received no drugs, there were threats of murder and mayhem made by the patient, screaming in the office as well as the waiting room, Security called, and the DEA notified that the patient was drug-seeking and placed their name on a database for future 'watch' alerts.
Four days later my wife's tire goes kerbluey on I-81 while driving home, with its twin sporting a nasty sidewall cut. While I'm saying to two issues are related, please notice that I'm also NOT saying that they are unrelated.
Sunday, November 13, 5:55am: The Chase
In the end, it all comes down to pretty much the same as the last post: My wife is okay, I'm okay, our kids are okay and now we have two new snow tires on the front of the car for the upcoming winter season. Yeah, you could say it's all good...
The only difference is that when I attempt to find sleep the night following the 'cut tire' revelation I do not sleep as easily or as long as the night before.
As I was inspired by the kindness of two unknown men in a green Subaru, I am also rocked by the revelation that there may be an un-named patient armed with a box-cutter and empty syringe re-visiting my wife's place of work.
This particular evening I dream not of chasing bunnies, but rather of being chased by a howling woman in an open hospital gown. She runs behind me across the field screaming obscenities. When I wake Sunday morning at 5:55am, I still felt pretty good, but upon waking the dream follows me.
It follows me right up until the moment I trip over my Golden Retriever for the six-thousandth time. Instead of reaching for the door handle which leads to the bathroom, I get down on my knees, then lay flat on my belly as I pet my ten year-old fuzzy friend awake for another day of bunny-chasing.
Turns out that I am home after all.
All is well. Another day begins.
However, questions remain: Why am I sharing my dog's dreams? And, will we ever catch that bunny?
I hope we do not.
If we did, what would we have to look forward to tomorrow...