We were listening to Mozart, going 42 miles an hour down I95. It didn't start that way. And even if it did, I wouldn't admit it. But 12 hours earlier, we really were doing 90 and listening to Kid Rock. And we had four tires, too.
Let me rewind. While I write newspaper columns each weekend, during the week, I am mild-mannered stand-up comedian Clark Kent. My current tour involves myself and fellow comic Josh Jacobs, and the current leg of it involves 10 states in one week. 11, if you count the state of confusion produced when you have to drive a car with less than four tires.
Our original plan called for two stops between Columbia, South Carolina and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. But Josh's grandparents live in Ft. Lauderdale. Let me make that clearer free rooms and free food live in Ft. Lauderdale.
Just before 11:00 that morning, we packed our car and set out to Ft. Lauderdale, by way of the post office and the Food Lion. I, sans license, even did a little of the driving. I know, I'm a badass. Actually, I'm just a bad driver. 23 minutes into the trip, Josh took over. And why I don't have a license is another column for another time. (See week, next).
South Carolina was easy we hurtled down I95 and set our sights on the Georgia border. Which we could practically see when our back right tire exploded. When I say exploded, I mean exploded. There were pieces everywhere other tires stopped to leave flowers and candles.
40 minutes, three exits, and a car donut later, we arrived at the local Walmart. Walmarts are huge to anyone, but tremendous to a New Yorker. This Walmart would have taken up half of midtown. At one point Josh called me to see where I was.
"I don't know," I said, "I see an exercise bike, panties, and a sandwich. I think I'm on the Upper East Side. Wait it's a ham sandwich. I think I'm in Mike Tyson's apartment."
The car people mockingly explained to us that we shouldn't have left the exploded tire on the side of the road, since it had a piece we needed for the new one. Josh drove to get the poor thing while I went shopping for a few necessities. We needed a wireless internet card, new sneakers, and a bottle of baby powder. The wireless card is obvious, the new sneakers are because my old shoes had gotten smelly, and the baby powder was to prevent the same fate from befalling the new ones.
After easily finding baby powder (Aisle 4,217) and having the guy in the computer department try to answer my questions by reading off the side of the box in my hands, I located a wall of sneakers with exactly four pairs in my size. The four weren't my style, since I prefer shoes that don't have paint chips missing. But I spotted a hidden fifth pair. Not only did it have Velcro, but it, like everything else in the store, was only $9. I loved how retro the shoes looked. And so did a kid who was walking by.
"Man, those are O!," he said.
"Old school?," I replied.
Okay, so that part didn't happen I just thought of it later. Your mind wanders when you're sitting outside a Walmart in Savannah for four hours waiting for the three minutes it takes them to fix your car. And that's what I did. Sat there. Wrote some. Ate some. Broke in my new orthopedic sneakers. And sat there. Josh was obviously not happy with the situation. And neither was I. Hell, with that situation, even that stupid roll-back-prices-Walmart-happy-face was getting a little pissed.
We were thrilled to be back on the road. A bit slower, but with our minds trained on getting to Ft. Lauderdale by midnight. It was about 5:30 when we left Walmart.
And then it happened again. Somewhere between Melbourne and Vero Beach, we started rumbling. A few exits later, we pulled over. The back left tire was done, too. Newly experienced at changing flats, it only took us 12 minutes to get back on the road. And then the decision that could have easily killed us to set out to Ft. Lauderdale on three tires and a donut.
The thing about a donut is you can't do more than 40 on it. And the thing about Kid Rock is it's not good to listen to when you're already severely frustrated. So twelve hours after we left South Carolina, we found some classical music, put the damn car on cruise control, and I began writing this. We were still 100 miles outside of Ft. Lauderdale. We rolled in (rolled, not drove) at about 2:00 AM. We were fine or as fine as anyone could be on the same day they spent four hours at a Savannah Walmart.
In other words, I may be a humor columnist, and Josh and I may be both be stand-up comedians. But god has a way better sense of humor than we do.