Ever have one of those days?
After dropping Jackie off at work in Wausau, I headed back to Merrill on one of the “scenic routes” instead of the Interstate.
Took my usual morning route from where Jackie works to Highway K, by way of Willow Springs Gardens. When I got to Highway A, for some reason I turned left toward Little Chicago instead of right and going to K.
Not two miles from the turn, “I heard that highway start to whine.” Sure enough, driver’s side front tire was flat.
After unleashing close to a 60-second string of profanities as I limped down to the nearest crossroad to pull off into a flat gravel and dirt spot, I went to changing the tire.
Now I don’t know who the genius was who 1) came up with the idea of a “temporary spare” and 2) the BRILLIANT idea of stowing the damn thing underneath the ass end of a mini-van, but I’d like to meet them. So I can beat them with that LOVELY little “extension rod” that attaches to that near useless jack handle and extends into the bumper for the purpose of lowering said “temporary spare.”
Beat them HARD, like a bongo drum.
I stopped and took stock of my situation. Here I was, out in the middle of rural Wisconsin, its 7:15 a.m., and all the traffic whizzing by on Highway A is too busy getting to work, school or elsewhere. I had roughly half of my first cup of coffee left, and the radio.
Good news, it wasn't raining.
So I set the parking brake, loosen the lugs with my big honking chrome four-way I have had since I moved up here, and go to get the (what passes for) jack and find the spot where it goes. While unstowing the jack package I discover a 25-foot air hose for the compressor in the hatch. After inserting the “extension rod” into the spot on the bumper, I quickly determine the four-way was faster at turning the winch, so I start spinning that sucker.
After a minute, I look underneath and the cable is JUST starting to come down.
I take a couple puffs on my cigar, bend down, and start spinning that four-way for all it’s worth.
Occasionally, I would stop to pull the cable out a little more from under the vehicle.
But no “donut;” the spare was loose but not coming down.
Okay, this called for a few more profanities, puffs on the cigar, a few more well-chosen curses, a sip of my dwindling coffee supply, and turning off the radio to save the battery.
After a few more puffs and practicing my Spanish proficiency with ill words for variety, I get down in the red dirt and gravel and prepare to do battle.
First I try kicking the little varmint. It just wiggles.
Switching to my more limited German, I flop on my back, kicking up a cloud of dust.
I grab the tire and yank. I am rewarded with a shower of dust and yuck from inside the wheel of the spare, but it moves a little. I poke on the plastic nubbin surrounding the cable with the “slotted end” of the “extension rod” (finding another use for the thing) and it slips a little more, all while unleashing enough crap from the wheel to pot a medium size cactus.
After a good 15 minutes of yanking on the tire, kicking up a right nice sand storm under the mini-van in the process, it finally decides to surrender and slides down to the end of the cable. After another minute getting the wheel off the cable, I carry it to the front of the vehicle.
A few more puffs on the cigar, another swig of coffee, double checking the parking brake is set; I start the battle with that worthless scissor jack.
That ends in less than five minutes, and the spare is on and I’m lowering the jack.
Damn donut is almost flat!
If anyone in a half mile radius was still asleep, my "FUCK!" woke them up.
This wasn't your usual screaming of that one-syllable word. Oh no.
This was one of those “from the very bottom of your present pit of despair draw that sucker out like William Shatner in Wrath of Khan, drag that one syllable out to where it sounds like 64” howls of agony.
This van has a built in compressor and I just found the hose for it and know where it is!
After screwing the end of the hose to the nozzle in the hatch, I go up to the spare and screw that in. I go back to the button that starts the pump and – feeling mighty tickled with myself – push it.
Okay, so I have it on backwards. So I reverse the hose connections, so the air gauge is by the button. I push it and the needle on the gauge stays pegged at “sucks to be you!”
Time to reassess the situation: Other than calling the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department to report a buzz kill of Biblical Proportions in progress, my only other option was to get the thing to an air pump. Nearest pump I know of is a little over two miles back at the Van Der Geest Dairy Farm.
So I put everything in the hatch, and head off toward the farm, pulling over twice to let people pass, I make it there in 10 minutes.
As I get out of the van to check to see that I still had a viable tire (I did!), I look down at myself and I’m covered in dust, dirt, grease, my Tilley Hat is filthy, and I must look like I had gone seven rounds with some minor demon.
Jackie would NOT be pleased. Then again, she was mad at me when I dropped her off. So this whole nightmare is probably the result of some kind of South Side of Chicago Polish Curse.
“Well played, honey,” I say to myself.
Nothing to be done but go ask if I can use their air hose, recounting the whole story to my audience of five just so I can finally laugh at it almost being over. As I coil the hose and hang it back up and hand the chuck to the guy who had gave it to me, I notice my hand, black from grease.
“The one good thing about the whole situation is at least I haven’t showered yet,” I say, drawing a round of laughs.
As I drive back to Merrill on Highway K, I hear a song from my youth in my head as I keep the radio off to listen to that donut.
I couldn't put my finger on the song. I just know that if I told anyone this story, they might think I've flipped for going from Wausau to Merrill via Little Chicago.
(Story © 2013 Jamie Taylor)
SERIOUSLY thinking of doing this as a video for my class. Would be filmed as a silent movie, with the tale told in voice over and the "action" exaggerated like in a Chaplin movie.
All the while, an instrumental version of this song as the "soundtrack"
My Video Pre-Production professor LOVED the story and my idea. What do YOU all think?
Good one! I wonder at those "emergency tyres" here, if you get a flat, the nearest tyre repair place might be only a few hundred Km away. One of the new "smart" cars here doesn't even have a spare, the idea is to call the company and they send someone out........
Red Wolf - that sounds like a nightmare for you - but it made me laugh - sorry! Glad that you survived it OK - and the film sounds like a brilliant idea. Love the soundtrack, have not heard of that band before.
The last three MONTHS have been a long string of these kind of days.
I think the long awaited "finish line" of the emotional Ironman Triathlon I accidentally found myself somehow running is at hand.
But that which doesn't kill you should give you some kind of inspiration for all the aggravation.
It was funny, but that amount of anger must be bad for your health.
I would never attempt to change a tyre myself. One of my colleagues had a flat and tried to do his this week and had to end up calling out someone eventually. The nuts are just turned too tightly these days to let a regular person unscrew them.
My spare is supposedly under the car. I've never seen it or what condition its in. Perhaps I should check.