Tuned Out by Keith A. Pearson Read Online (FREE)
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One week in and I’ve already reached peak-January.
Seven-thirty on a cold, grey morning and I’d rather be anywhere than here — the waiting room of a backstreet garage. There is no worse time for your MOT to expire than a few days after Christmas; not that I realised it had expired until the police pulled me over on New Year’s Eve. They warned me not to drive the car until I had a valid MOT certificate unless I fancied a hefty fine. Consequently, I saw in the New Year alone in my poky flat rather than at my brother’s house in Kent.
I approach the gammon-faced man at the service counter.
“Not good news I’m afraid,” he confirms. “It failed.”
It’s not good news for me, maybe, but the garage now has an excuse to quadruple my bill. Mr Gammon-face does his best to hide it, but I can see the glee in his eyes.
“What did it fail on?”
“You need two new tyres and the brake pads are shot.”
I knew the tyres were borderline legal but the brakes seemed okay.
“Are you sure the brake pads need replacing?”
I pull out my phone and tap the screen.
“Bear with me a moment.”
A quick Google search and I check the garage’s online reviews. They’re a mixed bag with a handful of customers complaining they were charged for unnecessary work. I probably should have checked before but options were limited for an early booking.
“Can I see the brake pads, please?”
“They’re my brake pads. Why can’t I see them?”
“I never said you can’t,” he shrugs. “I’ll just grab your keys.”
“Yeah, you’re gonna need them, obviously.”
“To drive the car around the corner. Once you’re there, you can jack the car up, remove each of the front wheels, disassemble both brake calipers, remove the wheel studs …”
“Hold up,” I interrupt. “Surely you can do all that?”
“We did, and that’s how we discovered your brake pads need replacing. If you don’t believe our mechanic, you’re welcome to check yourself.”
The very personification of smug, he dangles the keys in front of me.
“How much?” I mumble.
“If you go for budget tyres, you might get a few quid change from two hundred.”
That’s January extended by another lunar cycle.
“Doesn’t look like I’ve much choice, does it? How long will it take?”
“Should be ready by the end of the day.”
I leave the garage and make my way to work on foot.
Yesterday marked twelfth night and there’s some unwritten rule it’s the date you’re supposed to take down all your Christmas decorations. I’m no fan of Christmas but I do miss the colour. January is a shit month for many reasons but it feels particularly stark when all the fairy lights and baubles have been packed away for another year.