Not a big deal, right?
I could hear that it had messed something up, but my tire felt kind of functional in that I wasn't driving on a rim shooting sparks into the night sky, and since I was almost there, I just finished driving to the gym and parked.
I hopped out of the car hoping to see that everything was fine. But it was not fine. My tire was nearly flat and looked kind of like a squished black pancake.
This is the opposite of what my tire looked like.
(Can you tell I'm struggling to find pictures tonight?)
There are two things you should know about me:
1. I have no idea whatsoever how to change a tire.
2. When anything that requires car maintenance happens to my car, I freeze up like a deer in headlights that is afraid said headlights might make it have to do something masculine that the deer doesn't know how to do, like change a tire, causing utter panic to course through its body.
Like any normal person, I started hyperventilating and wondered why life was worth living anyway. I sat in the driver's seat, trying to assess the situation, in a state of shock. My internal dialogue went something like this:
"Is it really flat? (Gets out and checks for the third time) Oh gosh, it really is. But maybe I'm just seeing things. (Kicks the flat pancake tire) Oh yeah, it's so flat. What do you do when you have a flat tire again? Do you take it off or something? Should I say a prayer? Yes. (Prays) (Waits) Well, that didn't work at all. It's still all flat. And I still don't know how to get home. Crap. Crapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrap. I can't believe this is happening. (Buries face in hands) This is the most horrible thing that's ever happened to me. Oh gosh, this is really happening. (Starts to hyperventilate) Should I call 911? Would that be okay? Wait no, they probably have more important things to do, like arresting robbers and chasing shoplifters down alleys. Who should I call then? Who can save me???"
Obviously, my next step was to call Wife. Because she's really good with cars.
Me: Something really, really bad has happened...
Wife (roused from sleep): What?! What's going on? Are you okay?
Me: I was getting to the gym and I hit a pothole. And now... now my tire's almost flat.
Wife: Wait... what?
Me: My tire! It's almost flat and I'm stranded at the gym.
Wife: What do you mean it's "almost" flat?
Me: Well, I mean that, like, it still has a little air in it, but most of the air is gone and it looks like a pancake.
Wife: Oh sweetie. That's just called a flat tire. I'd head-pat you if you weren't stranded at the gym because of a flat tire.
Me: What do I do??
Wife: Well, if a tire is flat it either needs to filled back up or changed, so that it's not flat anymore...
Me: So... how long until you get here?
Wife: Um, sweetie, we have three children peacefully sleeping in their beds. And also, you are a 31 year old man. And you have a brain. And you're at the gym so allegedly you have muscles. I think you can handle this...
Me: I'm sorry, what was that? I couldn't hear you over my hyperventilating...
Wife: Fill up the tire. With air. Drive home. If it goes flat again, fill it up again. If it shreds, call me. Maybe we can find someone to change it for you.
Me: Thank you mommy. I mean Wife. Hopefully I'll see you soon. Unless I die.
Wife: You won't die. Unless you mess up.
So, I did what any reasonable person would do and worked out in the gym, the entire time trying to gear myself up for my grand return home. "You can do this, Weed. You've got this. See how you just benched 80? That means you can get home with a partially flat tire that you have to fill up. This is not a big deal. Happens to people all the time. I'm gonna die!!!"
However, it kind of worked because by the time I left the gym I was feeling pretty pumped up, like maybe I could make it home without somehow embarrassing myself horribly.
I was wrong.
First thing I did was get out my portable air pump. I attached it to the tire like a regular tire-expert, and filled that sucker up with air. And it worked, because after a while, the tire looked all full and plump and ready to go. Except, when I pulled the air pump off, I could hear this really horrible hissing sound. Ominous, yes. Prohibitive? No sir.
Off I went, onto the freeway with my emergency lights blazing, alerting all the other cars around me that hey, I'm a big deal. I have something going on. I imagined those lights as saying something really important, like "Listen, we have a crisis here. We have a driver with a punctured tire that he doesn't know how to change by himself because he is ridiculous. Clearly this is an emergency situation so, BACK UP OFF HIM."
It was going great, and I was getting close to home. Then, right before my exit, I heard it. thwap thwap thwap thwap thwap.
I pulled off the side of the road and started filling up the tire again. It was dark. I could barely see. I was pretty sure I was going to get hit by a drunk driver and become an amputee in a wheelchair. And then I'd have to worry about flat tires on that thing too.
I was almost done when suddenly, another car pulled to the other side of the road. Out hopped a burly looking guy, assessing the situation, surely expecting to help a damsel in distress, or some dude who is daintily filling his tire up with air because he doesn't know how to change his own tire. You know, either one of those two things.
Guy: What's the problem?
Me: Well, I'm just filling up my tire. Because I don't know how to change it. Because I'm an idiot.
Guy: Do you have a spare?
Me: A spare tire?
Guy (perplexed): Yes. A spare tire. To, you know, put onto your car. So that you can drive it.
I wasn't sure. I rifled around in my trunk until I found a magical compartment that, when I opened it, contained a tire! "Yeah I do," I yelled.
At this point, the guy looked at his watch, seemed to consider his options and then said. "All right, I think I've got time to change it for you." But then he explained that he had to be fast because he's got to get home. Because he is on house arrest.
Let me tell you something you probably don't know. When you are on the side of a freeway at night and you are trying to fill up your tire so you can drive the rest of the three minutes home and get into bed with your lovely wife after a hard workout at the gym, and then some burly dude in a pick up pulls over, offers to change your tire for you, and then explains that he has to be fast in doing so because he's on house arrest, the correct thing to say to him in response to "Do you want me to change your tire" is exactly what I said:
Me: Sure. Thanks.
No, "that's all right, I've got this." No "really sir, you probably should go home, being a criminal and all." Just a quick assent to let him change your tire. Because he's probably really good at that. Possibly because he frequently hijacks cars.
The truth is, the guy was incredibly cool and also really nice, and even though he tried to get that big screw thingie off the tire really hard but couldn't, and didn't end up being able to change my tire after all, I still drove away on my refilled punctured tire very grateful. Indeed, my faith in the goodness of humanity was confirmed. That guy was a good guy, willing to help someone else. Never mind that had I been a woman he might have tried to sexually assault me, or had I pissed him off he might have tried to murder me with that big complicated car-lifter-upper thing he was using from the trunk of my car.
He was a good Samaritan.
A good Samaritan wearing an ankle bracelet.
Don't judge a book by its cover. Or a man by his ankle bracelet. (Pretend that this is a picture of an ankle bracelet and not shackles, okay?)
And I? Well, I did make it the rest of the three minutes home. And then I crawled into bed exhausted at which point Wife rolled over and asked if I had changed the tire. And I said "no, but a murderer tried to do it for me and couldn't because our tire is real, real broken."
"That's neat," she said. And then she patted my head and rolled over to go back to sleep.
Just another day in the life of The Weed.
Image attribution here and here.