I was driving to school Monday morning when my car started making a weird clatterey scrapey noise.
Oh great. Instantly I heard my drivers ed teacher’s voice in my head. “You must employ all five senses while driving. If you hear a strange noise, something could be wrong with your car.”
“Maybe if I ignore it, it’ll go away,” I said to myself, ignoring my drivers ed teacher. I slowed down to go through the town of Shedd. The noise quieted down, then got loud again once I was out of town. I caught a faint whiff of burning rubber.
I pulled over to the side of the road and called my dad.
“Dad?” I said, “my car is making a weird noise.”
“Where is the noise coming from?”
“It sounds like it’s coming from the back right corner of the car,” I said. “But I could be mistaken.” I couldn’t imagine what could be in that corner of the car that would make such a noise.
“Why don’t you get out and look?” Said Dad. So I did, and to my surprise I found a flat tire.
I’d never had a flat tire before, but I had my own ideas about what the experience would be like. I would hear a bang, feel a corner of the car go down, and then lurch along for a bit before I pulled over.
None of those things happened to me. I also imagined a gently deflated tire with a single puncture wound.
Instead, the face of my tire sported ragged gaping holes all the way around, with little wires poking out.
(This picture is from google images. It’s the closest thing I could find to what my tire actually looked like.)
“I have a flat tire,” I told my dad.
“Do you have a spare tire? A jack?”
I knew I had a spare tire, but I wasn’t sure about the jack. I looked in my trunk, but it was filled with my stuffed frog collection, a pink satin blanket, a bin of clothes that need altering, and a milk jug.
“I don’t know if I have a jack.”
“Well I can’t come help you, I’m at school,” said Dad. “Call Mom.”
I called Mom. “I don’t know how to change a flat tire,” she said. “Call Dad.”
Thankfully Dad called me back just then and said that he was sending Shane, one of his high school seniors, over to help me. ”
Thanks,” I said. As I talked, I moved the stuffed frog collection, bin of clothes that needed altering, satin blanket, and milk jug out of my trunk and into my back seat.
“I just found my jack,” I said to my dad.
While I waited for Shane I sat in the car sipping tea, reading Latin American literature, and crying into the least precious of my clothes that needed mending. Monday of deadweek during the season of March blues is a less than ideal time to have a crisis.
Eventually Shane arrived and changed my flat for me. I tried to watch very closely so that the next time this happens I can change it myself. “Thank you so much,” I said when my car was ready to roll again. “If there’s anything I can do to repay you…maybe next time you deserve a demerit I’ll go easy on you.”
I said it half in jest but now, when Shane gets into trouble on my watch he always says, “but Emily, I changed your tire.”
I only missed one class, thankfully. I went into the shop after school and was told, “you need an oil change, your other rear tire is completely bald, you need new windshield wipers, and you should probably get your tires aligned.
The good news is that my car is once again in working order, dead week is over, and I appear to be in good standing with all my classes. The bad news is that my dad picked up my car from the shop and I haven’t yet found the courage to ask him what the bill was.