Loud in a Quiet Placeby Angie

10 Jun 2009
5:06 pm

So… you know how sometimes when you’re playing party games or doing “get-to-know-you” type exercises with co-workers someone often asks what your most embarassing experience was?  Well, I don’t know if this makes number 1, but today I certainly had a contender:  A bad case of the hiccups in the temple.  It was absolutely rediculous!  Sweet sisters gave me advice on foolproof remedies (not that I HAD any peanut butter or sugar around), but the problem went on for about half an hour.  It was close to the end of my shift anyway, so I decided to head out early.  Walking down those oh-so-quiet halls made me feel completely obnoxious.  Ironically, they left as suddenly as they came, and were gone as I was walking out the front door.  At least it’s gratifying to know that Someone upstairs has a sense of humor.

Checking Tire Pressure Under Pressureby Angie

7 Oct 2008
9:10 pm

My dad didn’t tinker with cars.  Perhaps it had something to do with having five daughters:  If he had had a son to hand him tools and acquire matching greasy fingernails, his free weekends may have been spent under the hood of the car.  Instead, he took his girls to movies and basketball games and built sets for my mom’s theatre productions.  However, I do remember him teaching me how to change a tire as a prerequisite to receiving my driver’s license.  I felt pretty impressed with my mechanical knowledge for a while, but – for better or for worse – I never actually had to change one.  Now that ten years have passed, the lesson is a distant memory and I’ll probably be a jellyfish if I ever have to do it on my own.

Recently, however, I had a new lesson in auto maintenance.  Our Mazda’s left back tire keeps riding low, so one day while Jim and I had stopped for gas, he showed me how to check and fill up the tires with the machine at the station.  He explained that it’s really important to get the PSI up to 35 (but not higher) and that I must be very careful not to loose the little valve cap that screws on to seal the tire when I’m done.  It was a simple lesson, but Jim made it enjoyable and I felt very informed and accomplished.  I could have gone on feeling like that – just as I had about changing a flat – except that this time my education was tested.

A week later, Jim was heading out the door for work and mentioned that the Mazda was low on gas (he rides his Riva to work), and that I should fill up before running my errands.  He added that it would be good to check the tire again – did I remember how to do it?  Yes, yes, I did, and I said I would.  Well, I didn’t – do it, that is.  Not that afternoon at least.  When I left for my errands, I was in a hurry and decided that I had enough gas to get things done.  That evening, though, I felt bad that I handn’t taken care of the tire after I said I would, so I decided to go before it got too late.

The sun was setting as I pulled into the gas station.  I stepped inside to ask for the code to work the air machine, then punched the numbers into the machine and got to work.  I decided to do the job thoroughly and check all the tires, and started at the front right: 35 – good.  Back right: 30 – I pulled out the nozzle and filled it up a bit.  That took care of the two tires that were next to the machine.  I decided that, rather than turning the car around, I’d just stretch out the hose to see if it would reach.  Awkwardly, it did.  I had to hang on to it with all the might of my left hand so it wouldn’t retract while I fumbled with the cap and the gauge in my right hand.

Suddenly, the air stopped.  I was afraid I had broken something, but I soon realized that the air worked on a timer and my time was up.  I entered the code again, dragged the hose back to its full length, and yanked it back around to the far side of the car to finish with the front left tire.  Soon, the gauge read 35 and I lugged the hose around to the back of the car to the last tire.  The PSI was less than 10, so I started filling, checking, filling, checking.  By this time I had realized that it was really stupid of me to venture on this project in shorts.

When the tire was full, I started to screw the valve cap on with my right hand.  Up to this moment, I had retained complete control over every one of the valve caps I had to remove and replace (which is quite a feat, considering I didn’t exactly have a free hand at the time – I had cradled each in my palm with my 4th and pinky fingers in the same hand that held the PSI gauge).  This cap, unfortunately, was rather rebellious.  He slipped out of my fingers and, rather than falling to the ground like a decent cap, dove straight into the wheel rim and disappeared.  Nervously, I felt around inside.  Since I was finished with the air hose, I let go so it could retract.  Twilight was falling and it was difficult to see anything in the shadows.  I felt around the inside of the rim with both hands.  Finally, I began to search around the tire and – lying flat on my stomach on the asphalt – I saw and reached the cap, which had rolled about two feet away from the wheel, deep under the car.

Thoroughly disgusted with the whole endeavor, I roughly screwed the cap on tight and climbed into the car.  As I started up the engine, I saw a man running toward the back of my car, waving his arms.  I froze for a second, not sure if I should turn off my car and get out with my hands up or just drive away as fast as I could.  Then I realized that he was bending down behind my car.  The hose had not retracted all the way to the machine as I thought it had.  It was wrapped around my back right tire and the nice man was unwinding it for me.  Now absolutely mortified, I waved a weak thank-you as he walked away.  With black, greasy hands and dust and grit on my shirt and knees, I drove home in shame.

The only good news is, the task was actually accomplished.