The email subject was, "Wow!" and the message from the accounts person at our tyre fix-it place was all overblown astonishment.
We'd been so unlucky! So many flat tyres! In such a short time! This was worth a book, not just a column. Unbelievable!
Agreed. That's why I'd asked for copies of the accounts. A dozen followed. Actually, 13, but let's forget the puncture repair in 2017 because that year had gone well compared to the two that followed.
We live at the end of 13 kilometres of gravel and I occasionally tow a horse float which doubles my wheel tally.
The trouble started for the farmer in June 2018 when two replacement tyres cost $390. Two weeks later a couple more cost $416. Then in September another one: $190.
No chance for me to feel superior. In tidy succession, October, November and December scored $25 puncture repairs – at least one for my float.
This sounds like no biggie, but getting a flattie, especially the middle of nowhere, presents immense potential for hassle.
The trend continued. In March 2019, four replacement car tyres cost $570. Then my float and the ute got one each: $110 and $190.
Around mid year, Roy who deals with our tyres, suggested the float flattie rate would be slashed if it had light commercial tyres. By August that came to pass: $600. He was, of course, right. No problems since. Fingers crossed.
My car hasn't done badly since. Just a new tyre in November and a repair in January.
It's nerve-racking writing this next sentence because saying something's gone well is to jinx it, but here goes: I've had no flatties in the dead of night, pouring rain and miles from home.
Thank goodness, because while the farmer has been heard to praise my strength, I just can't loosen the bolts.
The closest brush with a very long, late walk came when I'd had a huge day in town. Dinner time had been and gone. The car was jam-packed with groceries. I was 10km from home. And I was hungry.
My head had already left the car, arrived home, settled in with a drink and delicious dinner when ... What the hell was that? A roaring sound drowned out the car radio.
After surveying the damage I stood and gazed and thought. What if I tried to get the tyre off? And failed? Then I'd be really stuffed.
Perhaps a quick nip up the nearby side road, gently, gently. Jason would help. I was half way there when I remembered the family had recently moved.
Ahh well, I'd crawl on to another farmer's place. What luck! He was home and hugely amused. In moments, he'd whipped the wheel off and I had the spare waiting.
He put it on while I slipped the wheel with the wrecked tyre into my boot and ... Not so fast!
The spare was flat too. Even luckier I hadn't attempted a DIY. But most farmers have a compressor. Soon the tyre was pumped. But would it get me home? Some luck at last. It did.
There had been another lucky break. I'd stopped in town with the float in tow and had spotted a deflated tyre. Three consecutive empty parking spaces must have presented themselves. A miracle.
Roy replaced the tyre with pony on board and off we went.
You might think a more solid vehicle with more sturdy tyres would solve my problem. Maybe something more like the farmer's ute? But it's played its part in blowing the tyre budget. Total cost in 18 months: $2500. Plus I'm fond of my Toyota. It's easy to manoeuvre and economical.
At a pre-Christmas dinner a group of us chatted about the challenges of fitting SUVs into tight spaces in city car parks. I enjoyed a moment of smugness. Not me, amigo.
Then, the very next day, in a crammed Whangārei carpark ... Bang! A big black SUV banged into my car's backside.