First up, that title is just my attempt at a click-bait style headline. Even my own empirical evidence says that McDonalds car parks are very safe for you tyres, as I’ve been to various different McDonalds car parks on multiple occasions – more than is likely good for my own personal health – without issue. However, I’ve gotten a flat tyre on two different occasions, and both times have been after going into a McDonalds. The last time it happened I didn’t notice until I’d finished up at work (in an office, pre-Uber), so it only meant I was delayed in getting home. (In case you’re wondering, I’d gotten a Sausage McMuffin meal for breakfast, and on the way out of the drive-thru heard a crack, but continued on to work and parked. When I got back to the car, the front tyre was as flat as the tack that could have done the same damage.)
This time its meant essentially missing out on a day’s work, and I didn’t even get breakfast for it. I’d gotten my first ride for the day, and it was to take the passenger to McDonalds. Though I didn’t ask and only really half saw what he was wearing, I remembered the smell well enough from my own Olympic-level McDonalds career to know that this guy was going to work. Not (much) of a problem, given that after he got out of the car and I was out of his sight, I stopped to turn up the air freshener and spray some deodorant where he’d been sitting. After working my way back to the main road, I started to hear a sort of hum that I hadn’t heard in the car before, and I couldn’t work out where it was coming from.
I kept driving, noting that the hum got louder and softer, pitching higher and lower as I sped up and slowed down. I was almost literally scratching my head at what it could be. The gearbox was set to D-drive. I didn’t have the hand brake on at all. I checked that all the windows were up properly. I checked to see if the seatbelt the guy had just used was caught in the door and was being caught in the wind of the car. I couldn’t work it out, and the only theory I had – which turned out to not be too far off the mark – was that with the increased amount of roadkill I’d been seeing around lately, that something had gotten caught on a tyre and was causing the hum.
Regardless of what was causing it, I wasn’t noticing any issues with driving so let it go and continued on, particularly when I got a new pickup request. I put the sound to the back of my mind and headed to the pickup point. I pulled up, and within a few moments the passengers came out with a roller suitcase. Bingo, a trip to the airport! It wasn’t guaranteed, but given how close we were to a train station, if it wasn’t going to be to the airport then it was still likely a decent length trip. It turned out I was right, as once I started the trip the destination was confirmed as the domestic terminal of the airport. The luggage was loaded, the passengers got in, and off we went.
We got as far as the end of the street. At that point, while waiting for traffic to clear, a pedestrian crossing the street helpfully pointed out the flat tyre to me. I found somewhere to pullover, told the passengers they’d need to get a new ride because of the flat tyre, and that if there was going to be a fee for the “ride” I’d given them I’d arrange for it to be refunded. So after they were on their way, I had the NRMA come out, and tweeted this:
Thankfully the NRMA were prompt to arrive and help me out with the flat. Unfortunately, the spare was only a temporary fix, rated to only work up to 80kph, and a total distance of 160km. While that would probably be okay, it could cause issues depending on where any rides might take me, and with no spare tyre up my sleeve, even by avoiding McDonalds car parks I would be flying closer to the sun than would be ideal.
So folks, if you’re out there on the road, and feeling hungry and decide to go to a McDonalds, be careful and make sure you have a spare tyre and its ready to go. If you do decide to risk a McDonalds car park – or that of Hungry Jacks, Oporto or any other fast food place – are stuck waiting for someone to come help you out with a flat tyre or other vehicular issue, or you’re just in your car (parked!) and need a flat surface for something, then this steering wheel tray may just cone in handy.