“Can I give you a hand with that?” said the man in the liquor store parking lot. I wish I had known that that would be the last time I heard those words all night.
I was standing there in the cold rain, wearing a dress, heels, and wool overcoat. I was a half-mile from my house, stopping for a bottle of wine because I knew I was going to need it. I didn’t want to deal with my evening’s project in my work clothes, so I planned to go home and change into a raincoat and grubby jeans first. “No, thank you sir,” said I to the kind man. “I live down the street, so I’m just going to take it home.”
I drove home, slowly and carefully, on a very flat tire. My mind and body had kicked into what I call “survival mode”. I recognized it immediately, because it wasn’t so long ago the last time it happened (the Derecho/epic power outage/absurd heat wave/car crash of June 2012). I was starving, and I’m pretty sure I had to pee, but I forgot to deal with either basic function because I was focused on the task at hand.
I had to change a tire for the first time in my life. Outside. In a parking lot. In 38 degree weather. In the dark. In the rain.
I changed costumes like a superhero, gave the kitty a little scratch behind the ear (“I’ll feed you shortly,” I promised) and headed outside to my disabled vehicle. I was operating under the assumption that some kindly gentleman from my community would see what I was trying to do and offer assistance, just as the man did at the liquor store. I may not have the male-magnet ass that I did in my 20s, but I still have the big blue eyes, and I know how to use them.
I was so impressed with my preparedness under pressure: I had with me a flashlight, gore-tex gloves (to save my flimsy girly hands from getting torn up), and an old blanket to kneel on.
What I did not consider is the fact that my blue eyes are useless in the dark, so I had to change that tire all by myself. And we’re not talking about a donut… this was a full-sized SUV tire which felt like it out-weighed me. After loosening bolts and jacking up the car, my already feeble upper body strength was failing me completely by the time I put the new tire on. I was sweating, I think, or maybe I was just dripping with rain.
Finally, almost an hour later, the project was completed. I went back inside to my warm and dry home, fed the kitty, fed myself, threw my filthy clothes in the wash, drew a bath, poured a huge glass of wine (again, good disaster preparedness on my part), and sat in the tub until I was pruned. Sucked though it did to change my own tire, I admit I felt empowered.
I just hope I never, ever have to do it again.
|Ahh... new tires. Let's keep our distance, shall we?|