Cars are Annoying and Other Interesting Insights into Human Culture
One thing I will say about women’s liberation is that it makes mundane accomplishments seem like monumental achievements. Case in point, yesterday I got all “dolled up” for work and walked out to my car. I sat down in the driver’s seat, started the car, and winced at the ridiculously high volume of the radio…again. I turned it down, noticed that my “low air in the tires” light was on, and thought, “eh, fine, I’ll just pump up the jam down the road…tire…pump up the tire. There are no jams to be pumped at this early hour of the day, good sir!”
I, of course, was saying that to myself in a hoity toity British accent and all was fun and games until I drove approximately 5 feet and, as my car lurched and thumped forward I thought, “Well, shit. Something ain’t right.”
This was said in an offensive Southern accent.
I stepped out of the car and inspected the tires, only to find that one was completely flat.
“Fuck.” I said, out loud, in my own voice with no accent adulteration. I walked upstairs and announced to Wes that I had a flat tire. He said something like, “Bummer. Do you have a spare tire?”
I had no idea. I had not yet had to deal with this kind of thing with the Fit. So I went outside again and found that I did in fact have a donut. Impressively, I was happier about that discovery than whether or not I had a delicious donut, though I was starting to think that I would need a donut of the delicious variety soon since drinking wine at 9am is a faux pas or something…unless you’re in France…or unless it’s Sunday brunch. I’m pretty sure if I were to take a glass of wine and stir it with a celery stalk, it would be the next big acceptable brunch booze option.
Anyway, I had a donut tire and I had a non-complete-bottom-of-the-line hydraulic jack. Wes appeared next to me and helped me figure out where to put the jack and then said, “Well, I have to go to work! Have fun!”
He drove off in his convertible and I stood there staring at the jack, having already raised the car, realizing that I didn’t know how to get it back down again. Meanwhile, it was humid and the fresh morning dew was fucking everywhere, so it was time to change costumes.
Jessie, Shaun and Ginny were asleep. I changed from my spiffy “I’m a god damn professional” outfit into an “eh, fuck it” outfit. It consisted of ripped, dirty jeans, and t-shirt with a mushroom cloud and scientists fist pumping behind the word SCIENCE! And my hair hastily pulled back into a ponytail. I stomped out of the house already frustrated (mostly because of the humidity, because I am a northern wuss) and proceeded to sit down in the grass and try to read the (1 page) manual to the jack to figure out how to operate it. I read the page again and again and started talking to myself about how this didn’t make any sense. “Yes, I see the release valve, ok?!? BUT HOW DO I TURN IT?!? What handle?!? I HATE YOU!”
Well, it is 2013 and when in doubt, ask Google. After blowing past several links that said things like, “Once you are done with the car in its raised position, simply lower it,” I found something that made sense and I went, “OooooooooooOOOoooH” and managed the first part of this great enigma.
Then I tried to loosen the lug nuts with the tire iron I had…only to find that the tire iron was not the right size. Luckily for me, there was another car I could drive to go get a new one…but I didn’t do this until I had already exhausted various insufficient and inappropriate tools from the workbench. Wes’ suggestion was to hit the ratchet I had with a hammer. Not ready to regress into “Home Habilis Learns to Use Tools” existence, I went with the “drag my ass to Pepboys” plan instead.
I came home with an impressive looking lug wrench and, after thinking that I had gotten the wrong size (only to find that every one of the 4 fittings on there was different), I got the lug nuts loose with my massive strength.
Also with a great deal of help from the concept of leverage. Simple machines make work easier. I wish I also had required a pulley and an inclined plane, because then this would be an even MORE exciting post!
Long story longer, I managed to get the donut on and I cheered for myself, and pat myself on the hip where I have a gold star tattoo for situations just like this. I didn’t even bother to wash my hands or face. I just got in the car and decided to take the risk of getting down the street to the auto repair place. Obviously, as I sputtered down the road at a relative snail’s pace with my blinkers on (envisioning the donut suddenly flying off the car due to my shoddy installation job), I was loudly singing the theme to Indiana Jones.
I made it there alive and without any impressive several car pile ups, and surprised the people working there when they realized that I had changed the tire myself. I was probably just projecting that they were impressed. The one guy asked if I had done it myself after seeing my dirty hands and the fingerprints on my face. “You know you can go wash your hands in the sink over there…” Yup, totally awe struck. I know. I know it had nothing to do with the fact that I looked like I dropped the car off by jumping out of it while it was moving or anything.
So yes, I changed a tire by myself and was proud about it and also knew that had I told some people the story, they would have been like “Why didn’t Wes do it for you?” Some people did say “Why don’t you go wake up, Shaun?”
Here’s the thing: I accept that statistically, men are overall stronger physically than women. I know that sometimes it just makes more sense to get a dude to carry heavy things for me because it’s not going to take as much of a toll on them BUT I also think that being able to change a tire is something that every able-bodied should know how to do and, given the proper tools, should be able to do. When I was younger, I wanted to prove something all the time and proclaim that I didn’t need help. I still do that, but I am learning to assess when I really need help and when I’m just being lazy. In the case of the tire, Wes had to get to work and I wasn’t going to ask him to do this for me when I was perfectly capable of doing it (especially since I was at home when I discovered it). I wasn’t going to go wake Shaun up a few hours earlier than he normally would be up unless there was no option. On Facebook I answered the question of “wake up Shaun” with, “I ultimately was happy to have done it myself. Women are strong like bull.”
I mention this only because of the implied Russian accent needed to say that sentence properly.
I was jokingly calling this whole thing an Adventure in Women’s Lib, and perhaps it was in the way that the whole day was a lot about gender equality and saying fuck you to gender roles. I changed a tire on my own and refused to be a damsel in distress (even though I was frustrated as all get out). Then I walked with Shaun to go pick up a pizza I ordered and he explained to me why he thought the Nietzsche book he was reading was brilliant and unique (then he read a passage to the dog later…she was patient, but confused). Then Wes came home and made dinner while I sat on the porch with a crossword puzzle and a glass of wine.
Then more friends of ours came over and we sat in the hot tub for hours, drinking way too much for a Tuesday night.
Life is mundane and absurd and amazing. I like to look at this more as People’s Lib rather than Women’s Lib because at our house, no one really follows any kind of normal definitions. And I call it quite the privilege.