World Travel, Interrupted by Tires

As previously mentioned, I have a new job. I’m excited about it and I’m excited about the places I will have the opportunity to visit. It’s really nice to have a job. In the interests of keeping it, I won’t be sharing any details about the job itself, just the travel related things, or particularly funny stories I can edit down to “safe”. But anyway, some of this travel is going to be international. This is fan-freaking-tastic to me, because the first time I did international travel was in 2011, 26 years old, and I went to France with J*Rock and another fine lady that I now work with. So – yay, going to see the world, one job at a time. So far, as you can see from my previous post, I’ve been to New York. I’m doing some more domestic travel this month. In fact, September is going to be the month of travel for me. I kinda hope every month isn’t this busy.

This coming week I will be going to Washington state. This is exciting because I have family there and I’ll get to see them after I finish the work things. The week after that, I’ll be in Georgia for three days. The week after, I’m in California for the week. I’m going to be tired. But I should have plenty to blog about. I’ll try to remember to take my camera hook-up with me so I can download and post pictures of stuff faster. Oh yeah, I originally had a trip to Japan for October planned, but it got cancelled. That bummed me out. But now I’m scheduled to visit the Netherlands in November. Insane.

Because of all this upcoming at some point world travel, my friend that works here with me suggested I enroll in the Global Online Enrollment System, which is through U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The idea is basically that if you are an American citizen and not a crazy person, you can apply to skip the long lines in customs. You get to use a kiosk and skip all the stuff that takes so long to go through. So, I thought to myself, “Self, this seems like a good idea.” I signed up and paid the fee, whatever it was, and I think they do a background check to make sure you aren’t a home-grown terrorist. Then you have to go to an airport and do an “interview” before they’ll enroll you.

I did all this online and then picked a date, online, that I would go to an airport on, which happened to be Dulles. So on Tuesday, I’m on my way there – I left work early and avoided the major highways so that I would be on time. Because the kicker is, I work/live in the Alexandria area and Dulles is about 30-40 minutes away, depending on traffic. Hi, yeah, welcome to DC, everything depends on the traffic. At about 15 minutes out, I notice my tire, or possibly the road, is making a strange clacking noise. I think we can just pare that right down and say, what wishful thinking on my part, that I would assume that the ROAD is making a CLACKING noise. But wish I did.

I turned from the clacking road onto a highway with a higher speed limit. I had not gone any higher than 40 miles per hour when I heard something fly off my tire – definitely not the road – slam into my undercarriage and boom, all the lights on my dashboard go, “OHWHATTHEFUCKISTHAT.” So I pull over, flashers on, and think, “Well hellacious ass. I have someplace to be.” The front right tire is flat. Flat like Keira Knightly’s chest. (BURN.)

Readers, do not judge me. I do not know how to change a tire on a car. I have the fear that if I try it, I will do irreplaceable damage to the car, and at the time I was driving the newer car, not my car from high school. What if I jack the car up and it collapses on my hand or foot? What if I do it incorrectly and the tire falls off as I drive away and then everything blows up like in Die Hard? What then?! So I called my husband. Hot Husband, or HH, as you may recall, is not a handyman. For further proof of this statement, please see my post Panic! In the Bathroom. HH does have a AAA account though.

However, upon calling AAA for me, HH found that I am not on the account and as long as he is not physically present at the scene, AAA will not help me. The nerds. HH starts his attempts to find a tow-truck company that will come change the tire for me. In the meantime, I am calling the GOES office to let them know I may not be able to make it. This is particularly amusing for me because the GOES website is a hardcore place. BRING ALL THESE DOCUMENTS AND DO NOT BE LATE OR WE WILL NOT SEE YOU sort of thing. So I was worried about trying to reschedule. But on the phone, they were all like, “Oh yeah, we’re open until 7, so just show up if you can!” Alright then.

HH wants to know my location, which is no big deal, I’m on such and such road and just past this exit, which by the way, has no number. He wants a mile marker number to tell the tow truck service persons, but alas, there are NO NUMBERS ANYWHERE on this stretch of highway. I swear. I keep a look out for these things, in case I am ever taken or if, gasp, I get a flat tire. HH insists that there must be numbers. I promise there are not, but get out of the car to see if I can find one anyway. It is at this moment, as I am walking away from my car, that a police officer pulls in behind me.

My first thought is, “You’re not supposed to walk on highways, Strain, its illegal. You’re in trouble now.” Thankfully, this officer was not going to be that guy and instead checked with his dispatch for me and when there were no tow trucks available for an hour, put the spare on. Watching him, I’m pretty sure I could replicate the process next time, and there will be a next time. I swear this is the fifth tire issue I’ve dealt with since moving here. When I lived in WV, my biggest tire problem stemmed from the time I accidentally clipped a dead skunk and my tires stank for months. Sometimes I still smell it – and that was close to five years ago. I digress. My main point is, thanks to the kindness of that police man, I was still early for my appointment with the customs officers. Thank you, nameless Police Officer, I appreciate you getting your hands super dirty for me.

The appointment itself took about seven minutes and then I drove home like a little-old-blind-lady; slow and panicked. I think that’s way too much effort, don’t you? Now I have to get a new tire. Curse the debris.

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