The smell of rubber, sweat, broken dreams, and the industrial revolution filled my nostrils as I walked through the dirt and oil covered door at the Pep Boys auto store yesterday. Multiple customers just like myself wandered around with hands in their pockets looking at things not knowing anything about anything. I approached the over-sized register and informed them I needed a new tire because I had a flat and was driving on my spare like a nerds-worth. The employee had tire marks that went across his face as if a car had literally ran him over. He asked the basic questions like A/S/L and went to get the appropriate tire. Then he returned and tried to sell me the store. One of my biggest pet peeves is when you’re trying to buy something and the cashier starts trying to add on THIS, and THAT, and a pair of THOSE, for additional charges. I interrupted him with “NO NO NO, just the tire. I’ll do it myself.” Also, more importantly, I wanted to learn how to do it myself. After paying and a long 1 minute sigh from the PEP Boy, he said, “alright” and rolled a tire towards me that I jumped into and rode out of the store in. In the parking lot, I got out the tire changing essentials and went to work only to find myself crying and covered in dirt 10 minutes later. I had taken the tire off, but couldn’t get the rim out of the old tire and into the new tire. Like an idiot I tried prying the rim out of the old tire with the crow bar while sweating profusely. It didn’t make any sense to me because I thought it was the same process as changing a bicycle tire.
Instead of going back into the store and admitting my inability to change a tire, I went to my grandparents house to ask my Poppy to help me. I had the tire in the backseat. The rubber fumes emitting out of the tire in a car with no air conditioning on a 90 degree day kept me honest. I told him what happened and he immediately said, “Impossible.” You can’t change a tire if it doesn’t have the rim. You need a machine to do that.” I fell down and rolled back to the car. So I drove back to Pep boys. Not the one I originally went to, but one closer to my Nana and Poppy. After pulling into a parking lot filled with cars on tow beds, I was informed that they were ‘all booked up’ and I’d have to make an appointment. Instead, I decided to leave and try my luck at my original location. After 45 minutes in gridlock traffic and a tire chemical fume-induced headache, I was, once again, informed I’d need to make an appointment. So, I scheduled an appointment for 7pm the following day.
7pm the next day
I stood in a line that wasn’t moving and a line that didn’t really make much sense for a good 10 minutes. From 6:50pm until 7pm, I stood there as employees covered in car muck wandered around touching and smudging everything in site. Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” blared through the store’s speakers as the employees did a half-ass choreographed dance piece before summoning me up to the register. I informed the employee I had an appointment at 7pm. He didn’t ask me any questions, but instead said,
“Your appointment is for 7pm? We’ve got two other 7pm appointments booked ahead of you. It’s going to be at least 40 minutes”
My jaw dropped and hit the desk. I was blown away. In my head, I said “what the what?” I wanted to voice my opinion on the point of scheduling an appointment, but I couldn’t speak. I don’t think Pep Boys understands the concept of scheduling an appointment. You schedule an appointment so that you don’t have to wait or at least that’s what my 26 years of life and history of scheduling appointments has told me. It reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry made a reservation for a car, but they didn’t have any cars left.
I just stood there in shock until finally he asked me, “Well what did you need anyway cause I can’t find your info here?” I told him the story, how I thought I could just buy a tire and put it on myself, and how I needed them to put the tire I bought on the car. My story was interrupted by uproarious laughter from the man, and then from another man nearby. Before I knew it, the whole story was loudly laughing and bent over holding their bellies to stop their sides from splitting. After 35 minutes of people laughing, they told me “you need a machine to do that.” Skynet had won. I sat in the waiting room while employees wandered in, touching and smudging magazines, television knobs, my face, and then leaving. Finally, an employee walked over, pointed at me, and said, “you’re finished here.” At first I thought he meant in life, but I quickly understood.