Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Technology Wednesday--Jack of All Trades

The jack in this case is a literal jack, not the figurative one in the title. I'm feeling kind of post-ironic, which is why I'm writing about car jacks. They're part of technology (so is a stick, for that matter) and I'm a little tired of digital technology this evening, having spent the better part of the day trying to get my formerly reliable laser printer to recognize that, yes, it was connected to a computer, without any success. Truly a first world problem.

Anyhow, I was coming out of Staples last week when a nice fellow told me my right rear tire was nearly flat. I suppose the classic take on that would be to go around and look at it, but I couldn't see why he would be making that up, so I drove the mile or so home to change it. The car, my Mazda 6 wagon, Misty 6, didn't feel like it had a flat--you know, that thump thump thump that warns you something is amiss with your voiture.

So I got out in front of my house, and the helpful fellow was telling the truth. The tire was flat. It wouldn't even register on the tire gauge. Now, we had had AAA for about a gazillion years and used it a few times but I had come to believe that we didn't need it since we don't drive that far. (Helpful hint: you can get a roadside assistance plan from your cell carrier for far far less.) And it always seemed it took the nice AAA people an hour to come fix the problem, which they were very good at.  I didn't have an hour since I am, like most people I know, overscheduled, so I opened the hatch and took out the spare which I was hoping was a real spare but it was a doughnut, one of the most disgusting things ever created. It does the job but it looks darned stupid doing it. Having to put it on negated the man point I had accumulated by changing my own tire. I know, it saves weight and money (the car manufacturers' money), but I don't have to like it.

I unfastened the poor excuse for a lug wrench--it even had a pivoting head so you could make a complete circle with it when taking off the lug nuts. If it didn't snap off, since it was made metal the next step up from tin foil. I loosened the lug nuts and then went to look for the jack, which was secreted in one of the several and mysterious compartments in the cargo bay. I couldn't find it. I thought I was stuck and then I figured the jack in my other car, the Chevy Impala,which goes by the name of the Gray Ghost, might work and be sturdier to boot.

So, I looked in the boot of the Ghost and found it readily underneath the full-size spare and soon had the wagon jacked up and the flat off, ignoring the warning on the Chevy's jack to only use it with the vehicle it was intended for. Don't tell me what to do! Probably the warning was put there by OSHA. I exercised my right to ignore perfectly sensible advice.

I put on the doughnut, threw the flat in the back and hied myself to the friendly tire repair place we have used for years. The flat had a nail in it. The fellow who took the orders at the tire place had told me on an earlier trip there to have a tire plugged that when business was good more people had to have nail holes patched in their tires since there were more construction trucks about strewing nails all over the public roadways.

My tire was patched and remounted in about 20 minutes. I could have put it back on myself and gained another  man point, but I was tired from all the excitement.

I did whatever it was I had to do, and as I pulled up in front of the house, I thought about looking in the owner's manual for the location of the jack. It was in a thoroughly concealed secret compartment I couldn't even tell was there. And so I lost another man point for reading the directions..

Final score, for those who are keeping score:

On the plus side--+1 for removing the tire and putting on the spare
                           +1 for ignoring the warning on the jack.

for a total of         +2 points so far,


deduct one point for not remounting it  -1
and one point for using a doughnut       -1
and one point for looking in the owner's manual -1

So the total man score for the afternoon was -1, which is the score I pretty much carry. I suppose I could pretend it's my golf score, but I know nothing about keeping score in golf, which is another deduction, so that gives me -2. I'd better quit while I'm ahead, which is the best advice I could give myself (and ignore).

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