Matt Gray

A flat tire.

Dec 6, 2005

I left work this evening around 7:15 to pick up my brother and head to Everest on Grand for some Chicken Tikka Masala. After I arrived at his place, I happened to notice that my driver’s side headlight was out. Missing headlights bother me. Oftentimes I will see another driver flashing their brights at me, and I immediately wonder if my headlight is out. Each time this has happened, I’ve confirmed that both lights are on, all systems go. Now I found one burned out, and stared at the other pairs of headlights on the road, watchful for the brights-flash—none came.

We arrived at Everest and I was able to put the irritation aside and enjoy my meal. I stepped down from Medium-plus to plain ’ol Medium today; my brother decided to increase his spicyness to Hot. Tikka Masala is a pretty mild dish to begin with (compared to that fiery-hot green curry I tried at Pad Thai Sunday night—whew!), so Hot was tolerable. As usual, I managed to make an obscure reference to my brother’s and my shared past—this time, a Wendy’s employee that resembed Kevin Bacon.

After we got in the car and started heading towards Walgreen’s (X-mas card buying time), I noticed the wheel pulling to the right. The car was making unfortunate noises, and wasn’t steering properly. You guessed it (from the title, anyway): flat tire.

I’m no stranger to flat tires; they seem to strike me at the most inopportune times. The last incident was several years ago, as I was leaving my office in St. Cloud. I was able to change it in no time back then (having used my lame jack extensively for changing oil and painting my older car’s wheels an atrocious color). Now I have a nicer, newer car. Should be dead simple, right?

For the life of me, I could not figure out the “correct” way to operate the included jack. First of all, it is wedged into a special compartment on the side of the trunk. The jack itself is actually expanded a little inside this custom-fit hole, so that it is impossible to remove. Yes, I will admit that I tugged at the stupid thing for a good two minutes or so before realizing that I needed to collapse the jack slightly (turning the eyelet on top) to remove it from its hidey-hole. Argh.

Once out, I maneuvered the jack into position and looked around for something to insert into the little eyelet. I had three things:

Problem was, the silly hooked rod was too large and unwieldy to spin around quickly. I tried all sorts of positions. My brother tried. I was cranking, pulling the rod out, re-inserting it on the other side, cranking, repeat. Eventually, we removed the tire / wheel and replaced it with the super-small spare. I hastily scanned the area (a side street in St. Paul) for any belongings, then we beat a hasty retreat to the freezing car.

My toes were numb, my brother’s were freezing and painful. We cranked the heat and sat rubbing our feet in the parking lot of Walgreen’s (amid laughter and groans). Catastrophe!


Eventually, the warmth brought feeling back into our feet and toes. (Random aside: the Walgreen’s on Snelling & Randolph has a really disgusting bathroom.) I dropped my brother off and headed home. I had meant to go back to work, possibly do laundry, just get things done. These modest aims were abandoned in favor of this unplanned annoyance, perhaps too readily. In any case, I bought a new low beam headlamp and replaced it (evil clip of doom pictured below).


In the relative warmth of my underground garage I cracked the jack’s riddle: the “crook” rod was simply an extension! Had I examined the tire iron more closely, I should have noticed a small hole in the middle, sized precisely for the non-crook end of the jack extension rod. I don’t want to think about how much faster that would have been.

Does this mean I’ll eventually become incapable of setting the clock on my VCR / DVD / magic media box? Refer to young’uns as whippersnappers?

Mechanical incompetency aside, I should probaby run a load of laundry. I am down to short-sleeved shirts only.

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