Tag Archives: flat tire

Tweaker and the Jack

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That morning The Man had found out the lady he worked for had been hit by a truck. We didn’t have all the details, but we knew she was at the large university hospital being treated for a broken leg.

It was evening now, and I was headed home into the sunset after an afternoon of working on my blog at the public library. I was about seven miles from home, on the stretch of state highway where tourists often stopped to observe bighorn sheep living their wild lives.

8 bighorn sheep stand in the sage grazing
Bighorn sheep living their wild lives

About a quarter mile ahead I saw two cars, one parked on the eastbound side of the of the road, the other on the westbound side. Two women were crossing the highway. One woman was plump and wore a loose earth tone shirt over loose earth tone pants. Her dark, frizzy hair hung to her shoulders. The other woman had strawberry blond hair pulled back in a severe bun. She work black denim cutoffs and a tank top that barely concealed her black bra and barely contained her large, pale breasts.

Stupid tourists, I muttered to myself as I slowed the truck way down.

As I got closer to the women, a medium-sized dog jumped out of the open window of the car parked on the right. It bounded across the highway after its people. I brought the truck to a complete stop.

The woman with dark hair stopped in the middle of the highway, turned around, and spoke to the dog. The dog turned around, bounded back to the car, and jumped through the window it had come out of.

The woman with the bun made an elaborate arm gesture to me, the kind a fellow pretending to be a fancy gentleman might make to indicate, After you, madam.

I drove slowly past the women, wondering if the dog was going to dart out in front of me again or if one of the women was going to change her mind and try to scoot across the highway. After I passed the two parked cars, I pulled off on the barely-there narrow shoulder of the road.

To add to my questions (Who were these women?  Why were they stopped on the side of the road? Where were the bighorn sheep I thought they’d stopped to see?), while I was stopped I’d realized a friend of mine was parked on the opposite side of the road. She was on the shoulder of the eastbound lane, near the other parked car, but the front of her truck was facing west. As I drove slowly past I looked over to the driver’s side of the truck and confirmed, yep, that was my friend.

I only pulled off out of concern for my friend. As for as I could tell, the two women and the dog weren’t experiencing any distress, but I didn’t know what my friend might be dealing with.

My friend must have recognized my vehicle because by the time I got out of my truck, she’d pulled hers around and was parked behind me.

I was very cautious when I got out of my truck and walked on the narrow shoulder over to my friend’s Toyota. As soon as I could I got away from the highway and walked over to her passenger side. I was definitely thinking of The Man’s employer and her recent accident. No way did I want to get hit by a vehicle going 55 (or faster) on a state highway.

Are you ok? Are you ok? I asked my friend as I approached her vehicle.

She said she was fine. It’s her, she said pointing to the woman with the bun and short shorts who was now running across the road to our side. She needs a jack.

I need a jack, the woman echoed.

Oh, boy, I thought. I was torn between wanting to help and wanting to get home. I really didn’t want to hang out so close to the highway, but I knew I should help people in need.

I’ll get my jack, I told the woman with the bun.

I went back to my truck. I knew the jack was screwed down under the rear seat on the driver’s side. To get to the rear seat, I had to open the back door.  To open the back door, I had to open the front door. I couldn’t open either door very much because doing so would put the doors in danger of being smashed by someone driving too close to the shoulder.

I stood against the truck, the two doors resting against my body while I tried to lift the back seat to get to the jack. Suddenly the back door opened and the woman with the bun was standing next to me.

I told her I was getting the jack and would meet her at her vehicle. She didn’t budge.

I told her again that I was getting the jack and said she should go wait for me over there while pointing toward my friend’s vehicle. She still didn’t budge.

It was at that moment I began to suspect all was not right with this woman. First of all, no reasonable person would stand as close to the highway as she was standing if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Secondly, no person with any concept of the distance Americans like to keep between themselves and strangers would have put herself so close to me. Also, no one with an understanding of privacy would have put herself all up in my business inside my truck. Finally, I’d told her twice that she should step away from my vehicle. Of course, I’d been trying to be polite and hadn’t literally said step away from my vehicle, but I think most people would realize meet you at your car and wait for me over there meant the same thing.

I didn’t smell alcohol emanating from the woman’s pores or breath, and she wasn’t swaying or acting tipsy in any way. I figured she was maybe a bit socially awkward, but probably on meth. She had that swagger, that self-assurance. Someone on meth would be prone to think I needed her right there to hold the back door open for me and help me get the jack from under the seat. She likely thought she was the center of the whole damn universe and needed to be involved in every aspect of every single thing that was happening.

Look, I said to her.  Someone I know got hit by a car today. I don’t want you (or me, I thought to myself) getting hit by a car, so you go stand over there (I pointed in the direction of my friend’s truck again)  while I get the jack.

She still didn’t move. I don’t want you to get hit by a car either, she simpered.

At that point I should have just left, but the woman was still right next to me and not moving. I would have had to attempted to physically move her if I were going to leave. Besides, my friend was still out there. I didn’t want to leave her alone in this mess. Perhaps if I let the woman with the bun use my jack, we could all go home.

My irritation must have finally registered in the brain of the woman with the bun because she started in with Never mind. I don’t have a four way anyway. I won’t be able to change the tire anyway. Never mind. She sounded like a little kid who’s decided the world doesn’t love her because she’s not being allowed to have her way.

Oh no! I thought. I’m in this now. You’re going to use this jack! (My stubborn nature will probably be my downfall.)

Something (I have no idea what) caused the woman to (finally) step away from my truck and head back to her car, still calling out, Never mind. I don’t have a four way. Never mind.

With the jack finally I my hand, I left my truck. As I passed my friend’s truck, I shook my head and muttered uncharitably, Fucking tweaker.

Oh, I know! my friend said. She’s as high as a kite. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had noticed the woman’s unusual behavior.

I carefully crossed the highway with the jack and all its accessories in my arms. You can bet I looked both ways before I walked across. When I got to the bun woman’s car, she’d flipped a bunch of tool into the storage area of her hatchback and pulled her spare tire from some compartment. She was still moaning about not having a four way, but I was pretty sure I saw a red four way half covered by a floor mat (or something) there in the back among the piles of stuff.

Ummm…isn’t that a four way right there? I asked pointing.

She rummaged around and pulled out the red four way. I was the best! I was the greatest she exclaimed. (She could have been the best and the greatest too, had she only looked a little more carefully.)

I handed her my jack, and she took it and her four way to the passenger side of her Subaru. As I stepped as far away from the highway as I could, I finally saw the source of the problem I was now involved in. The rear tire on the back passenger side was not just flat; it was shredded. Poor gal’s tire had blown out on her way to town.

My friend had turned her small truck around again and was now parked behind the Subaru. She got out of her truck and walked over to me. We stood in the dry grass on the shoulder of the road and watched as the woman with the bun lift her car off the shredded tire.

How did you get involved in this?  I asked my friend.

The woman with the bun had showed up at the outdoor market where my friend was vending and said she needed a jack. My friend didn’t have a jack but thought she might be able to help in some way, so she drove her truck over to meet the Subaru. Now she felt as if she needed to stay until the situation was resolved.

The woman with the frizzy hair was not pleased with the situation. She didn’t think my jack was big enough. I figured if it was big enough to lift my giant truck, it would do ok with a Subaru station wagon, but I kept my thoughts to myself. The woman with the frizzy hair was also concerned that the shoulder where the Subaru was parked slanted down and then dropped away into a grassy area. She was afraid the car was going to topple over onto her friend while she changed the tire.

It was getting colder as the sun sank lower. The wind was blowing pretty hard too. I was chilly in my long skirt and short sleeved blouse. The woman with the bun was wearing a lot less clothing than I was, but she had physical activity and (probably) drugs coursing through her veins to keep her warm.

The woman with the frizzy hair made a phone call. She needs help, she said to the person on the other end of the line. She’s cold. She doesn’t have a jacket. She was obviously talking about her friend dealing with the blown out tire.

She needs a jack, the woman with the frizzy hair continued. Don’t you have a jack? she asked, then begged, Can’t you come and help?

The guy must have said he’d come over because the woman with the frizzy hair got off the phone.

By this time the woman with the bun had lifted her Subaru, but her friend begged her to wait for the fellow with the jack to arrive. The guy only lived a couple miles away, she said, He’d show up soon, and his jack was better anyway.

If the guy was coming with a better jack, I ventured aloud, maybe I could take my jack and be on my way.

The woman with the bun stood up from where she’d been sitting on the ground while removing the flat tire. She had ignored her friend’s pleading for her to wait for the man with the jack. It appeared she planned to get ‘er done. She walked over to the back of her car and rummaged around in the hatchback storage area again. When she stepped away from the hatchback, she was holding…a jack. It was the same size and design as the one I’d loaned her. She’d had a perfectly adequate jack the whole time. Why was I standing in the cold wind next to the highway?

Now there was a frenzy of activity. My jack was removed and her jack replaced it. I regained possession of my equipment.

I guess I’ll go, I told my friend. More than anything, I wanted to get off the side of the highway and go home, but I didn’t want to leave my friend alone in the middle of a fiasco.

My friend assured me she was fine and I could go. She said she would stay with the women until the guy arrived with the better jack. I knew I wouldn’t be any of any help even if I stayed, so I carried my jack across the road to my truck, hopped in, and headed home.

When I got home, I texted my friend to ask if the guy had arrived with the jack and if my friend was on her way home. She texted back and said she was on her way home. She said the guy with the jack had never shown up. The woman with the bun had taken off the shredded tire and put on the spare all on her own. Turns out she didn’t need anything but some moral support.

bighorn sheep looks at the camera
Bighorn sheep living its wild life in a rest area

I took the photos in this post.

Helping Hand

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I’m not telling you this story so you’ll think I’m cool. I don’t think what I did was really so special. I’m telling you this story to inspire you to help someone who might need a hand.

I think we had just turned down Indian Route 15.

The Lady of the House and I were on our epic road trip through Arizona and Utah. We’d just left Winslow, where yes, we stood on the corner. Now we were on a long leg of the trip to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. We’d left the I-40 just east of Winslow, and were currently in the Navajo Nation.

I think we had just turned down Indian Route 15 when we saw the man and the woman standing next to a dusty SUV pulled off on the shoulder of the road. I don’t remember how we determined they were having trouble. They weren’t waving their arms or otherwise trying to signal drivers to stop, but trouble was the only reason I could imagine for pulling off the road there.

We should see if we can help them, I said to The Lady as I passed the people and their vehicle, then slowed down to pull off on the shoulder ahead of them.

You jump out and ask if they need anything, I said to The Lady. She’s the more outgoing of the two of us, so I figured she’d be better at approaching strangers.

She did jump out and was back quite soon. The people had a flat tire, she reported. They had phone service and water, so they didn’t need our help with those things. The woman wanted to know if we could give her a ride just down the road to a supermarket so she could buy a can of Fix-a-Flat.

I didn’t mind giving her a ride. While my van only has two passenger seats with seatbelts, there was room for her to perch on the edge of the bed. I could drive slowly so she wouldn’t feel her life was endangered without a seat belt.

Too bad I didn’t have the 12-volt air compressor I’d bought earlier in the year after a tire disaster on BLM land. I’d purchased the compressor along with a can of Fix-a-Flat in preparation for future tire disasters. Unfortunately for the people with the flat, I’d left the compressor with The Man who was rolling on three used tires and more likely to need it. If I’d had the compressor with me, I would have used it to try to pump up their tire. Maybe the tire would have held air long enough to get them to a tire repair shop. Since I didn’t have the compressor, all I could do was give the woman a ride so she could buy herself a can of Fix-a-Flat.

Oh wait! I had a can of Fix-a-Flat. I could just give her my can of Fix-a-Flat which would save us both time and save her money too.

I jumped out of the drivers seat and went around to the back of the van. After opening the doors, I had to move bags of food and a large plastic tote so I could rummage around in a small tub, but I finally put my hands on the can of Fix-a-Flat.

Is this what you were going to get? I asked the woman who had come closer to the van when The Lady beckoned her. When she said yes, I handed the can to her and told her she could have it.

She thanked us, and The Lady and I jumped back in the van. I don’t know what else we could have done to help.

The supermarket the woman had said was just down the road turned out to be about six miles away. I wouldn’t have minded driving that far, I told The Lady, but it was father than I’d expected.

When she asked for a ride, I asked her how she was going to get back, The Lady told me. She said she would walk. That would have been a long walk!

I would have waited for her, I told The Lady. I would have given her a ride back to her truck.

However, since we still had a long way to go to get to the campground where we planned to stay that night, I was happy I was able to simply hand over what she was planning to buy anyway.

I replaced the can of Fix-a-Flat a couple of days later while we were in civilization. When we got back to Babylon, The Lady gave me her family’s old air compressor that no longer works when plugged it into a regular electrical outlet but does still work when I plug it into my van’s 12-volt outlet. Now The Man and I are both prepared for tire disasters.

I hope the people on Indian Route 15 were back on the road in no time.

This photo is on the side of a laundromat in Kayenta, AZ.

I took the photos in this post.

 

 

Tire Disaster (Part 2)

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Hitchhiking Hand Sign2018 started out with a bang! The Man and I got back together and decided to go camping on BLM land. We ended up getting three flat tires (two on his minivan and one on my van) in less than 24 hours. Today our saga picks up with us hitchhiking back to our vans after purshasing a $17 can of Fix-a-Flat in the nearest town.

The vehicle that did stop was a pickup truck. The driver said he was just going a mile or so down the road, but we were welcome to hop in the back. When we tried to hop in, we found the truck’s bed full of stuff, mostly cabinet doors. There was no room to sit anywhere but on the doors, and I didn’t want to damage anything. I ended up perched on the top edge of the truck’s bed. The Man got the dog on top of a door lying in the bed and held him there while he perched on top of the closed tailgate. The driver pulled the truck back on the road before I felt safely situated, and I hung on for dear life. I knew what we were doing was dangerous, especially as the truck picked up speed, but it seemed too late to change our minds. It took a long time to go that mile or two, and I reverted to my Catholic ways and said a few Hail Marys to take my mind off the danger we were in. christianity, jesus, maria

I was grateful and a little woozy when we were dropped off, but we still had miles to go before we got back to camp. We kept walking until a truck hauling an open cargo trailer stopped ahead of us. We rushed over to find a man and a boy in the truck. The Man explained where we wanted to go, and the boy (probably no older than nine) translated for his father. They were going our way, so we climbed into the second seat of the extended cab. The driver offered us a beer, and our polite refusal did not keep him from sipping on the can he already had open.

Soon we were zipping down the road at 75 miles an hour (in a 55mph zone! while pulling a trailer!), and it didn’t’ take long to get us back to our camp. We said our thanks and felt gratitude not only for the ride but for the fact we’d made it back to our vehicles safely.

The Man had to take apart his van’s set up to get to the spare tire stored in a compartment in the floor. When he pulled the tire out, he found it was somewhat flat, but put it on his vehicle anyway to keep as much weight as possible off the rim. After he loaded the hopefully salvageable flat tire into my van, we added the Fix-a-Flat to my tire. It didn’t pump up the tire very much, but we had no choice but to drive very slowly to the tire repair shop in town.

The worker at the tire shop pumped up my flat and said while the Fix-a-Flat had ruined the tire for long-term use, it would probably make it the 25 miles to Discount Tire. He looked at The Man’s flat tire and said since the puncture was in the sidewall, the best he could do was put in a plug. After he repaired the tire, I paid him an additional ten bucks to grind off the bolt holding my spare tire to its rack, then replace it with a bolt that could be removed.

It was early afternoon when we arrived at the very busy Discount Tire shop. When it was our turn at the counter, the very nice worker was sympathetic to my plight, especially the part where another worker at another Discount Tire location had cross threaded the bolt holding on my spare, thus making it impossible to remove. He confirmed the Fix-a-Flat had basically destroyed my tire, but because I’d purchased the warranty on it, he was able to replace it for free.

Once the new tire was on my van, we went directly to Wal-Mart where I purchased a large can of Fix-a-Flat and a Slime brand portable air compressor that runs off 12 volt. I was not going to be caught unprepared again.

It was after dark when we returned to the road down which The Man’s van was parked. I dubbed it Three Flat Tire Road, and I didn’t go far down it in hopes of decreasing the risk of another busted tire. I pulled off the road into the first flat spot my van would fit in.

In the morning, The Man removed the spare from his minivan and put on the repaired tire. Then he removed the second flat tire and put the spare in that spot. We drove 25 miles to a used tire shop that had a tire to fit The Man’s van. Once back at camp, he replaced the spare with the good used tire and put all of his belongings back in their places. The next day we left the area, fearful of getting another flat.

My new tire is working great! I appreciate the customer service I received at Discount Tire, and I’m glad I splurged on warranties for all of my tires.

The good new tire The Man bought is working fine too, but the brand new tire with the plug had to be replaced. Apparently, damage in a sidewall is just about impossible to repair. The plug never set well; every couple of days the tire was flat, and we had to use our new 12 volt air compressor to pump it up. The Man was going to buy a plug repair kit at an auto parts store, but when he took it up to the counter and asked the worker about it, the guy told him not to waste his money. The worker also warned him that the tire would likely blow out at 65 miles an hour on the interstate. Since then, The Man’s replaced the plugged new tire with a good used tire. It was sad to see the new tire go to waste, but there was nothing else to be done.

One flat is an unfortunate inconvenience. Three flats on two vans and no usable spare surely qualifies as a disaster. Check out my post “10 Ways to Avoid and/or Prepare for Tire Disasters” to find out what you can do to spare yourself the grief I experienced.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/hitchhiking-hand-sign-889086/ and https://www.pexels.com/photo/maria-mery-sant-51524/.

Tire Disaster (Part 1)

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2018, celebration, colorfulThe Man wanted to get back together. I was skeptical, but I agreed to meet him when my dog sitting gig was over on New Year’s Day. It was good to see him. We talked, then decided to camp on nearby BLM land.

I’d brought black-eyed peas and kale so we could eat for luck and money in the new year.

The tire on my van wasn’t entirely flat when I took this photo, but it wasn’t in any condition to roll down the road.

While I was preparing dinner, The Man looked over at my van and asked, Is your tire flat?

We investigated the back tire on the passenger side. It was not entirely flat, but it was definitely too low. It was getting dark, so The Man said he’d put the spare on in the morning and we’d drive the 25 miles to the nearest Discount Tire to have it repaired. In the meantime, he used the jack to lift the van off the rim so it wouldn’t be damaged from having too much weight resting on it.

I was in the van when I heard The Man cursing outside. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he had a flat too, also on the back passenger side. What are the chances of that happening? we asked each other, then went to bed.

We discovered the flat tire on the back of The Man’s minivan first.

In the morning, we lingered in the van until the sun camp up and the temperature rose. The Man was outside first. When I came around the front of my van, I saw him standing on the passenger side of his minivan, looking down in disbelief. The front tire on the passenger side was flat too! The chance of having three flat tires on two vans in less than 24 hours has to be exceedingly low.

We discovered the flat on the front of The Man’s minivan in the morning.

While the back tire that went flat on The Man’s minivan was old and in need of replacing, my tire and the one on the front of his vehicle were both only about two months old. As we realized later, all three punctures were in the sidewalls of the tires. In one of the flat tires on The Man’s van, we found small pieces of wood protruding from the puncture. WTF? We’re still not sure what caused the flats, but we ruled out roofing nails since none of the punctures were in the treads.

At this point, we decided after breakfast the first order of business would be for The Man to take the flat tire off my van and put on the spare. However, when the time came, he couldn’t get the spare tire off its mount. Two years ago when I bought new tires and asked the folks selling them to me to save the best of my old tires for my spare, they’d put the spare on the mount attached to my backdoor. I’d had no need for the tire since then, so I didn’t know the bolt holding on the tire was cross threaded. Nothing The Man did would budge that bolt.

We put on our walking shoes and headed to the nearest town—about twelve miles away—in hope of buying a can of Fix-a-Flat.

We were on a road with very little traffic, but when vehicles approached, we stuck out our thumbs. Most of the vehicles we saw were commercial trucks, which I never expected to stop, but the infrequent passenger cars we saw just rolled on by too.

Finally a young guy in a really clean, sporty car stopped for us. The Man and the dog got in the backseat, and I sat in the front. I tried to make friendly chitchat until I realized the young guy barely spoke English. I took a careful look around the car and found it extremely clean—no dust, no fast food wrappers, no cigarette butts. I did see a beverage can in the holder between the seats. I couldn’t quite see the can’s label, but something about it whispered beer. I glanced into the back and on the floor behind the driver’s seat was a twelve pack of Modelo. Our boy was a morning beer drinker. I hoped he wouldn’t crash the car.

Thankfully, he drove us safely to the Shell station by the interstate. He went on his way, and I thought about how angels sometimes drink beer for breakfast.

I asked The Man to go into the Shell station and choose the proper product for my flat tire while I stayed outside with the dog. Once he used his mechanical expertise to pick out the best product available, I’d go in with my debit card to pay. He wasn’t gone long. He said he’d left the can on the counter by the register and told the lady working that I’d be in for it shortly.

When I went in, the can of Fix-a-Flat was indeed on the counter. I told the lady working the register I’d take it, and she rang it up. I almost passed out when she told me the total was $17 and some cents! I suspected the stuff wouldn’t be cheap, but $17 seemed excessive. But what could I do? I needed the stuff, so I paid up. (I found out later, the same can of the stuff cost under $8 at Wal-Mart.)

So now that we had our Fix-a-Flat, we started our long walk back to our vans. Every time a passenger vehicle passed, we stuck out our thumbs, but it was a long time before anyone stopped.

This post turned out to be a long one, so I’m going to make it a two-part saga. You can read the conclusion here.  I’ve shared what I learned from the experience in the post and “10 Ways to Avoid and/or Prepare for Tire Disasters.”

Image of fireworks courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/sky-lights-night-new-year-s-eve-66277/. I took the photos of the flat tires. The image of Fix-a-Flat is an Amazon associates link. If you click on that image, I’ll get paid a small advertising fee on anything you put in your cart and buy during your shopping sessession.