6.15.2008

We Can Do It

Yesterday I was finishing up some housecleaning, and I took three bags of garbage out to the car, preparing to go to the county landfill. There, I found a note on my windshield:

Your right rear passenger tire is flat.

My neighbor had graciously notified me, and the truth is I never would have discovered it on my own: it's not my habit to walk around my car, kicking tires and checking its general health; I just sit in it and make it go, and if something starts to bump or creak or flap, I turn up the radio until I can't hear it anymore. I am a born mechanic.

I immediately called my dad, because I'd rather refer all troubling events in my life to someone else, but he made me take responsibility for my own car, which is what a good father does, but was not exactly what I wanted at that moment. Still, as I was talking to the 24-hour roadside assistance people, he broke into my phone call and announced that he was on his way over to change that tire. So, in effect, he'd done a Dad Psych! on me.

While I was waiting (that seven minutes from my house to my parents' is a killer), I went outside and pulled the drivers' manual from the glove compartment and searched the index for What To Do In Case Of A Flat Tire. Actually, that chapter is entitled "If You Have a Flat Tire." I like how the manual has both written directions AND pictures, otherwise I would have searched for the spare tire for several hours with no results.

I pulled the whole kit from the trunk and set about following the Dummy Directions for Tire-Changing. I'd gotten up to step three ("Pull the jack from the kit") when my dad drove up.

"What happened to Rosie the Riveter?" he asked.

Now, when my sister Joon was in college, she got on this kick where she insisted on doing everything herself. I bought her a poster (or something) with Rosie the Riveter on it to give her a positive role model.
Since she got married, Joon is unable to pick up a dirty dish without help from her husband, so she no longer deserves the RtheR title, and since I have to kill the bugs in my house, or take out the garbage myself, or set my own Tivo, I have inherited it.

"She didn't know if she could loosen the lug nuts herself," I said. (Ha! "Loosen the lug nuts!" Plagiarized from the drivers' manual; I would never have put those words together in a sentence by myself.)

I had gotten a good start on the tire-changing process, so my dad let me continue with the tasks I could handle; that is, until it was time to loosen the lug nuts. But then he made me pull them off the tire, and my hands were all greasy and dirty.

"UGH," I spat. "I look like a MANUAL LABORER." (Classist! I am such a snob when there is dirt under my fingernails.)

When we (and by "we," I definitely mean "my dad") pulled the flat tire off the ... thingy, he looked for the cause of its flatness.

"You got screwed," he said, pointing to the screw head poking up out of the tire tread.

My brain and my mouth immediately got into a fight, with my dirty mind generating all kinds of responses and my mouth refusing to articulate them.

Brain: Ooh, here's a good one--
Mouth: Dude, that's your DAD.
Brain: Try this one then--
Mouth: That is your DAD.
Brain: Well, how about--
Mouth: THAT'S YOUR DAD.

And so forth, until I finally just laughed politely and emphatically kept my words inside my head.

We put the spare tire on--I did most of the work, and my dad stepped in to tighten the lug nuts. It's not a real tire, you know, that thing they put in your trunk. It's about 1/4 the size of a real tire, and if you were so inclined, you could wear it like a crown on your head and pretend to be Miss Spare Tire 2008. I mean, if you wanted to.

I drove into town to get the real tire repaired, and the worst part was the actual driving, as the directions in the manual clearly stated that I should not drive faster than 50mph. The majority of the journey was highway driving, which meant that I determinedly ignored other drivers as they passed me, and I ducked my head in embarrassment more times than not. You'd think that, since it's only five miles under the speed limit, that driving 50 wouldn't be such a big deal. BUT IT IS. Especially if you're the type of person who typically drives 70 or higher a little bit faster than that.

So now my tire's fixed, and I know where the spare is, and I can almost change a flat by myself, if I need to. And this was all started by the most evil, vile activity one can do by herself, oh yeah, I'm saying it: HOUSECLEANING.

Let that be a lesson to you.

1 comment:

P said...

Proud of 'ya, Rosie!

 

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