My newfound love of Southern California is that you can go from summer to winter in a three-hour road trip. And by winter, I’m referring to only the nighttime hours when the temps drop into the teens, and the mountains can make plenty of snow for you to snowboard on the next day.
This past weekend I took my first trip up to Big Bear to hit the slopes, and spend a couple of days in a rented house of 20 friends. The boarding experience was surreal. The conditions obviously weren’t the top-notch, but they were way better than I was expecting… And the weather during the day couldn’t be beat. By the end of the first run, our jackets were tossed into the lodge, and shortly after, Under Armour was removed on the lift. We spent the day getting tan instead of wind burnt. Removing cold weather and constant snot coming from my nose from the equation was key… it was amazing how little I complained.
The antics that went on in the house were what you’d expect of a rowdy group of 20. Or possibly not. After seeing Clueless 150 times, and always wondering if the cool “Valley” kids actually played Suck ‘n Blow at their high school parties [see clip below], I never thought I’d be 31 and giving it a whirl for the first time.
Over a two-hour period of time around the dining room table, I gained a ton of respect for those actors, and the entire crew of the movie Clueless, for the amount of patience they must have had to get that 18 second shot. Let me tell you… Suck ‘n Blow is NOT easy. It started with three of us. The first 20 tries were ruined with laughter. The next 100 were trying to figure out the proper ratio of sucking to blowing. The group slowly grew until there were about 10 of us and we refused to quit until we got successfully around the table. About an hour in, it wasn’t funny anymore. It became intense. I never would have put my money on a 35-year-old man screaming profanities over a game of Suck ‘n Blow… and vowing to go home and practice in his living room. But that happened. And I loved every second of it.
Sunday morning rolled around, and it was time to go home. As Carissa, V, Brie and I rolled out of the house in our mismatched pajamas, shoving all of our stuff back in the trunk and saying our goodbyes, we assumed the weekend was over, and it was a straight shoot home to plop on the couch for “Surf Sunday,” which included watching footage from the morning’s Maverick’s Invitational surf competition followed by the movie Chasing Mavericks. We were wrong.
The drive was okay for about five minutes. After five minutes V wanted to vomit. It wasn’t hangover vomit, it was windy mountain road carsick vomit. And unfortunately, the windy mountain road lasted for 25 miles, which equated to a full hour. Brie was in the backseat chit chatting away, and one of the only times V opened her mouth to speak was to say, “If I vom, I’m aiming it at Brie because she won’t shut up.”
She didn’t vom. We made it off the windy road without incident. It wasn’t until we were on a real regular highway, about an hour and a half into the three-hour trip, that we heard a huge THUMP.
“What the hell was that??!”
I suggested, “It was probably a rock hitting us that came off that trailer.”
I moved over to the left lane to keep away from the trailer. Brie asked V how she was feeling.
“I’d probably be feeling a little better if Court would stop swerving.”
I was swerving a little.
“I’m sorry, but it’s not my fault. Don’t you see these divots in the road? They’re making me swerve.”
I kept driving. And kept swerving. The damn divots in the road… Then I saw flashing lights in my rear view.
“Crap! What did I do wrong???”
“He probably thinks you’re swerving. Because you are.”
I pulled over to the side of the highway, and that’s when my car started thumping a little…. the girls looked out the passenger side door and noticed the back rear tire was COMPLETELY flat. The cop came to the window and told me I had a flat. ;aldfjsa;ldsfjal;dsjfa;ldfjal;kjdakld
Thankfully, there was a huge fieldy area next to the shoulder, so there was plenty of room to pull over. Before I was even out of the car, Brie and Carissa were walking through the prickly field to bring back a large piece of cardboard they found, and they promptly plopped their asses on it. V said she knew how to fix a flat tire, but didn’t trust herself to do it and then actually drive on it. The rest of us didn’t have a clue.
I called Emergency Roadside Assistance who said there was high call volume, and they would call back in an hour to let us know when someone would come out to help. At that point, V went and got another piece of cardboard that was a few feet away.
Carissa advises, “Stomp on the cardboard to flatten the grass before you sit… otherwise the prickly things might come through and stick you in the butt.” Solid advice.
Five minutes later, we were all sitting there on the cardboard, snacks out, and Loaded Questions set up. We figured if we were going to be here for the next couple of hours, we’d better make ourselves comfortable. The suggestion was made to get a few beers out of the car, but Brie piped in with “I think that might be illegal,” which it obviously is, so we decided against it.
At this point, we were very content, and in no real rush. Carissa found a cut-out finger bunny on the back of a box of crackers, got scissors from the car, and was kept busy practicing her fine motor skills. We crushed a bag of Doritos in 10 minutes flat, started on the bags of candy, and were playing some tunes. We alerted some friends who were still in Big Bear that we were on the side of the road, so of course they offered to come to our rescue on their way back if roadside assistance didn’t get to us by then.
About an hour later, a passing cop on a motorcycle spotted us and pulled over. Carissa says, “This guy’s shaking his head. I don’t think he’s impressed.”
He approached us and asked what we thought we were doing.
“We’re having a picnic, because we have a flat.”
“Did you call anyone?”
“Yes, we called roadside assistance. They’re supposed to call back within an hour but we haven’t heard from them yet.”
“None of you knows how to fix a flat??”
Three of us shake our heads, while V explains that she knows how, she just doesn’t trust herself to do it on someone else’s car.”
The cop grumpily says, “My 16-year-old daughter knows how to change a flat.”
Like what does he want us to say to that? Brie responds, “Oh she must be very smart!”
Officer stars yelling at us, “You cannot be sitting on the side of the highway. Do you know how easy it would be for a car to veer off and hit you?! Then I’d be dealing with four dead girls.”
Brie pipes in again, “Well that wouldn’t be good.”
Officer: “Who’s car is this??”
Officer: “The rest of you get in the car and put your seatbelts on. YOU. You’re going to change this tire.”
Me: “Sir, I already called roadside assistance. They will be here. Thank you, but I don’t know how, and I’d just rather wait.”
He ignores me. “Open your trunk. We need to find the spare.”
Is he kidding?? I open my trunk which is packed to the max with all of our weekend gear. The girls are in the car looking back. The cop starts taking all of the stuff from the trunk and throwing it into the backseat, demanding Carissa and Brie help him. He grabs my backpack and starts to toss it from the back of the car into the backseat.
I say, “Oh my laptops in there. Please don’t throw it.”
He responds, “It’s fine; it’s not going to break.” And continues to toss it over the seat.
He tells me to get the car manual to figure out how to release the tire from underneath and find the jack and the tools. V quickly locates it and hands it to me. I’m shaking a little because this guy is so mean, and I finally find the pages that contain information on changing a flat. There are secret compartments and tools and levers and lots of confusing things. The cop is giving me some direction, but mainly wants me to figure it out myself, and is standing a few feet away watching.
A few minutes later, a car-full of our guy friends pulls up behind us. I’m thinking “THANK GOD.” Now this man will leave.
No. The four guys pull up, get out of the car, and start walking over. The officer turns around and yells, “All of you get back in your vehicle. ONE person can stay and help.”
They all stop in their tracks, turn around and start walking back to the car. I say, “Wait, ONE of you can stay!!”
The officer points to Clarence and says, “YOU. Stay.”
I plead, “Well can whichever one of you knows how to change a tire the most stay?”
Clarence turns around and goes back to the car, and Jarred was the chosen one. The officer immediately starts calling him “Raven,” for an unknown reason, and bossing him around as well. I just wanted him to leave. He didn’t leave. He was directing us, making me get under the car several times to LOOK at things because he wouldn’t just TELL me what to do. The guys behind us were texting the girls to get out of the car and go into theirs when we needed to jack it up. When they tried to do so, the cop shot them down and told them to stay where they were, and just sit on the opposite side of the car as the flat.
Raven and I are both fully under the car, because the jack is so far back. We have it about halfway up, when it slips out from under the axle and the car comes crashing down. I scream. Carissa yells to get out from under the car. Joey, watching from the car behind gets pissed, and gets out of his car. The cop turns around, points at him and tells him to get back in. Now I’m mad because I feel like I almost died. I’m also really frustrated because I’m hot, dirty, and have cactus pricklys all up and down the front of my body which are stabbing me, from lying on the ground. I DON’T want to be learning a life lesson right now. I don’t want to be changing this tire. I plead, “Can we just wait for roadside assistance?”
The cop says. “No, go put the jack back under the axle.”
I kinda want to cry. “Can the girls please get out and go in the other car this time?”
“No. It won’t make a difference.”
Back under the car we go. The jack looked like it was going to slip again, halfway up, so we had to release it and start over. Finally it was up. When it was time to remove the flat, the cop demands that we kick the tire and then pull it off. It’s not coming off. “KICK IT HARDER.”
He decides to take matters into his own hands and starts kicking the tire with all his might, as the car shakes with the girls inside. He finally loosens it and makes Raven take it off. At this point, I’m thinking, even if I KNEW how to change a tire, I wouldn’t have been physically able to do this by myself. This guy’s a jerk and I want him to go away.
When the new tire was on, and the old one was back under the car, the cop asked me how old I was and then pulled me aside.
“Are you going to reprimand me for not knowing how to change a tire?”
“No, I’m going to reprimand you for something else.”
We walk to the side and he continues to yell at me like I’m 5 years old and he’s the meanest father on the face of the Earth. He tells me I should never ever get out of my car again if I have a flat and that I should remain in it with my seatbelt on.
I’m sorry, but I’m not sure how sitting 30 feet AWAY from the shoulder, waiting for roadside assistance, which, by the way, is INCLUDED in my insurance because I PAID EXTRA for it, is more dangerous than being under the car and changing the flat MYSELF.
I thanked him for his assistance and life lesson instead of doing what I actually wanted to do, and kicking him several times in the nuts, and got back in the car. He then felt it necessary to get on his bullhorn and give us instructions on picking up speed in the shoulder before merging back onto the highway. Really dude?!
The girls complimented me on my patience, saying they would have probably freaked out. I’m not sure how I didn’t. I just wanted it to be over. I was beyond thankful that Raven and the other guys stopped to assist. Having to deal with the drill sergeant bossing me around on my own would have been an even more hellish experience.
We followed each other to Chili’s and then it was all better. We only half cared that we were still in our pajamas, and I was covered head to toe in branches, dirt, and cactus needles. V asked me if I felt accomplished after changing the tire. I told her I would have felt just as accomplished if roadside assistance had changed the tire.
Moral of the story is this: If you have roadside assistance, you do not need to learn how to change your own tire. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Tire changing is for men.
Second moral of the story is: If you’re with the right people, any situation can be turned into a positive experience. But that’s something I learned a long time ago.
Cheers to a fantastic weekend with a bunch of terrific people. And hoping that police officer got really bad diarrhea. Or something else unpleasant and inconvenient.