Women are afraid of mice and murder, and of and very little in between.
— from The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, by Mignon McLaughlin
I was walking home from the bus last night and as I passed my car in the parking lot, I noticed a note on my windshield. I picked it up, turned it over, and found that some nice neighbor of mine had kindly advised me that I had a flat rear right tire. I went around to the passenger side, and sure enough, I did. Closer inspection revealed a screw lodged between the treads in the middle of the tire. I was inexplicably ill at the time, however, so I didn’t do anything about it last night.
Today, though, I was able to leave work early to come home and take care of it. Now, I’ve never actually changed a tire before, and I wasn’t convinced I could do it. I tried once, about 6 years ago, but I couldn’t get the lug nuts off no matter how hard I tried, and I sat in the parking lot and cried until someone took pity on me and stopped to help. (I’m not proud of that, but in my defense, it was three weeks after I lost my hearing, and two weeks after I’d fallen and torn my rotator cuff, and I’d just come out to the parking lot to discover I had a flat, so I was just about at the end of my rope.)
Anyway, luckily, there was no one in the space next to me, so I unloaded my trunk and strategically placed the removed items outside the empty space so that someone wouldn’t come careening into the space and kill me before I could triumph over the tire. See?
The stool I brought down from my apartment so I wouldn’t have to kneel on the pavement; I was glad more than once that I thought of that. Then, I carefully followed the instructions in my manual – so nice of them to provide that, I think – and popped off the hubcap, and was able, with a fair amount of effort on my part (that torn rotator cuff is going to be sore tomorrow, that’s for sure) to loosen the lug nuts. That’s when I knew I was home free.
Once the lug nuts were loose, I carefully placed the jack under the car precisely where the manual said to:
And then it took about 100 years to crank the thing up because I had to keep taking the wrench off at the end of each revolution because it would hit the ground. There’s probably a way around that, a secret that only boys know or something, but whatever. I got the big tire off and the little, puny, sad-excuse-for-a-tire spare on, lowered the jack, tightened the lug nuts and I was done! In under 35 minutes, and all by myself! I was quite proud; I even had axle grease all over my hands.
Then I drove to CostCo to see about replacing the tire. I was so psyched when the guy told me the screw was in the “perfect” place and I wouldn’t actually have to replace the tire, I could just get it plugged (the tires were close to brand new when I bought the car in November, so I was not happy at the prospect of having to replace one, if not two, of them). He couldn’t do it for me because I didn’t buy my tires there, so I drove to a service station to see if they could. They could and they did, and it only cost me $20! I gave the guy an extra $5 for himself because he did it so quickly and then spent about 10 minutes getting my jack and spare securely back in the trunk.
So, yay me! I feel oddly accomplished. This is the kind of thing I think a lot of women would automatically outsource, either to a significant other or to AAA, and I feel proud that I did it myself.
Maybe for an encore I should learn to change my own oil.