Yeah, I've been busy lately (as usual), though not with teaching... the private school I was teaching at hires on a year-by-year basis, and I wasn't hired this year. So for the first time in my life I filed for unemployment. I feel terribly guilty about doing so, though everyone keeps telling me I shouldn't. (This doesn't mean you should reply to this post telling me I shouldn't feel guilty about it; like I said, I'm already being told that anyway, but it doesn't really change anything.)
But, anyway, I guess something happened today that perhaps was worth writing an entry about. But instead, I'm going to write an entry about something that happened yesterday.
But before I do even that, a bit of preamble.
So, I moved a few months ago—I think I've at least mentioned that—and, in the aftermath, well, I ended up cleaning out my car and, for whatever reason, ended up taking out some things that probably should have stayed there. Such as a tire iron. Now, I'd intended to return all that stuff to the car, but didn't get around to it yet. Oh... I'd also intended to check whether or not my car had a jack in it somewhere, and get one if it didn't. Hadn't gotten around to that either. For that matter, I hadn't even checked whether the car had a spare tire, though that seemed very likely.
Which caused a problem when, last night, I got a flat tire.
It happened on my way to a recording for a radio program I had a part in. (When I say "radio program", I mean something that may or may not ever be played on the radio, but anyway, it's an audio program, whatever eventually happens with it.) I was running a bit late and had trouble finding the entrance to the place, so when I finally got there and hit the call button and the gate was opening... well, I guess I started the car moving a bit earlier than I should have —I thought the gate was open, but apparently it wasn't, entirely. My car survived the experience mostly undamaged (the gate, on the other hand, was knocked off its track, but hopefully that shouldn't be too hard a fix), the "mostly" being, well, the right front tire, which apparently got a hole torn into it by the edge of the gate.
So, anyway, I tried not to worry about it during the recording session, since there wasn't much I could do about it then anyway, but afterward... well, in addition to having a flat tire, I was also pretty much out of gas, and had of course already planned to fill up after the recording session. So I first went to the gas station, and figured I'd take things from there. This, of course, required driving a few blocks on the flat tire, but my car made it that far.
(While I was filling the tank, the gas station attendant came out to tell me I had a flat tire. It would have been rather difficult for me not to have noticed.)
Okay, but now what? Insofar as I had any sort of half-formed plan, it had been to drive back home on the flat and get it fixed in the morning. But on further examination, that was clearly out of the question. I'd made it as far as the gas station, but home was about fourteen miles away, and the tire was completely flat; by the time I got there, the tire would be completely gone and I'd be driving on the bare wheel, and I really didn't want to damage the wheel itself. So... driving home on the flat was out.
Well, the obvious thing to do was to pull over and see whether somehow I did actually have the tools I needed in the car somewhere. There was the spare tire, in the trunk where it ought to be, and then behind the spare tire... well, there was some sort of package that seemed promising. And inside it was, indeed... a jack!
Unfortunately, the jack was of limited utility without a tire iron, or a socket wrench, both of which I had previously had in my car, and currently had in my apartment where they didn't do much good. Still, there was a chance I had a wrench somewhere in the car that would fit it, so I jacked up the car, and looked through my car... but I didn't find anything that would do. I had several wrenches in my car, but none the right size (including a crescent wrench that wouldn't quite open wide enough for the lug nuts, though due to its shape I don't know that I would have been able to use it to remove the lug nuts even if it were big enough). I asked the attendant whether he knew of any places nearby that sold tire irons, but he said not until morning (it was by this time past midnight). Which didn't really help me much, since I didn't really see sitting all night in the gas station parking lot as a viable option. I tried calling my roommate Allen to see if he was still up and had a tire iron; I later discovered that the answer to the second question was indeed yes, but at the time this was irrelevant because the answer to the first question was no.
I was near despair when it occurred to me that the handle of the jack looked as if it doubled as a tire iron. What a clever design, I thought. And then I was near despair again when I discovered that the handle of the jack only looked as if it doubled as a tire iron—it was the right shape, but it was slightly too small for the lug nuts. What a pity—a jack handle like that that doubled as a tire iron would have been really nifty, but apparently it was not to be, or at least it wasn't in that particular case.
So. It seemed I was stuck. There was one other option, one possibility, but it was one I didn't really like. I could ask random people at the gas station whether or not they had a tire iron.
There was, in fact, just then one likely person in the parking lot, a youngish man in a green shirt and tie driving a black car. By this time I'd gone ahead and lowered the car again and put the jack away, but I figured if I was going to be asking to use someone's tire iron, I would want to waste as little of their time as possible, so I ought to already have the car jacked up. Unfortunately, just as I finished this, Green Shirt finished filling his tank and left, leaving the gas station empty. Still, I figured if I kept waiting someone would else hopefully show up.
(It occurred to me that, in retrospect, I should have just taken care of the flat in the recording studio parking lot, at which time I could have asked one of the other cast members if they had a tire iron. But, of course, this realization did me very little good right then.)
Eventually, a middle-aged black woman arrived in a minivan. I approached her about my problem, but, while she was friendly and sympathetic, she didn't know what a tire iron was, and after I explained she said she didn't have one—the last time she'd had a flat, she'd called Triple-A. (For what it's worth, though, apparently I didn't really know exactly what a tire iron was either; as it turns out, according to Wikipedia, the object I thought was called a tire iron is technically actually a lug wrench, but is increasingly called a tire iron since genuine tire irons are no longer in common use since modern car tires have rendered them obsolete. But that's beside the point.)
Next to arrive was a young woman who I was afraid might be scared of a strange man approaching her at a gas station to ask for something. But I tried anyway, attempting to seem as non-threatening as I could, and apparently I was successful, because she didn't seem at all put off by my question. Unfortunately, however, she didn't have a tire iron either.
And then nobody showed up for a while. Finally, a Hispanic man drove up in a big white truck. I asked him if he had a tire iron. "A tool?" he said in heavily accented English, miming a rotational motion. "Para sacar ruedas," I said.
Apparently he had a tire iron somewhere in the bed of his truck, but it was buried under a lot of other stuff. He spent considerable time moving things around and lifting them up searching for it, but finally he produced it—an ancient, rusty tire iron, but better than nothing, provided it fit the lug nuts.
Which it did, and before too long I had the spare tire on, returned the tire iron, thanked my benefactor, and was on my way.
Didn't get a chance to replace the flat tire yet; I'll do that tomorrow morning. And I'm definitely going to put that tire iron in the trunk so I don't have this problem again...