Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Best Year

On Wednesday mornings I travel to the city to attend a class called "Living your Best Year."  This is a big deal for me.  My mind doesn't function at its peak in the morning and I don't enjoy driving in commuter traffic.  Nonetheless, yesterday I got up, got dressed, and started to drag myself out to the street where my car was parked.  Halfway up the hill, I realized I'd left my book behind so I went back and fetched it.  Then, as I entered the car, a button on my shirt got entangled in the seat belt latch.  The clock was ticking as I attempted to free myself and ultimately succeeded.  As I pulled out onto the street, I looked at the dashboard and saw a light pop on.  The illuminated icon looked like a laurel wreath surrounding an exclamation mark.

Of course I had no idea what the light meant, so I pulled over, got out my owner's manual and looked it up.  It took a while but I found out that this is the symbol for low tire pressure.  It seems like there could have been a more obvious icon for that, but the people who design dashboards don't appear to be concerned about being user-friendly any more than those who write owners' manuals care about clarity.

What to do?  I walked around the car and looked at the tires.  None was flat, but they all looked low,
especially the front ones.  I kicked them for good measure.  I'm not sure what I expected to happen but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  I decided it would be safe to drive to the closest gas station and put air in them.

At the gas station, I found the air machine and it cost a dollar. "Quarters only." There's something annoying about the concept of paying for air, but I went inside and got change.  Back at the car, I sat inside, reading the manual trying to figure out how much pressure the tires needed.  After extensive reading, all I found was that the pressure should be indicated on the tire.  I crawled around, looking. [Did I mention I was wearing white pants? My mom always said white pants after Labor Day are a poor wardrobe choice and I see now that she was right.]  The tire pressure was, indeed, embedded on the side of the tire.  It was then that I realized how handy a tire gauge might have been.

By now, I was truly hoping a guy would come to my rescue.  As soon the thought materialized, I told myself that this sounded pretty sexist.  Although, in my experience, guys are generally more knowledgeable than gals on car-related issues, I decided to amend my wish anyway.  I didn't really care the gender of my rescuer.  A man, a women -- if a magical goat came along with an air pressure gauge, I'd take it.

No knight in shining armor arrived.  No powder-puff mechanic materialized.  No pixies, car fairies, no unicorns.  It was going to be up to me.  I crawled around some more, unscrewed the little nozzle caps, inserted the quarters into the air machine and blindly put air into each tire.  Nothing exploded so I took that as a good sign.  I turned the car on, saw that the light was still lit up and formed Plan B.

Plan B:  Drive my car to a nearby auto repair shop where the guys are professional, knowledgeable and, best of all, nice.  Go inside and throw myself on their mercy.

The young guy behind the desk got up, went out and put air in my tires.  He said that on cool days the air pressure goes down a little and that there probably wasn't even anything wrong.  Furthermore, you have to drive a little while for the dashboard light to go off.  All great information that I could use on the spot.  It was a wonderful experience and I was grateful.

When I asked him what I owed him, he said, "Nothing.  Air is free."

I finally arrived at my class.  My white pants were grimy and I was almost an hour late but I was floating on air.  Turns out,  I had learned a valuable lesson:  We don't have to live our best lives alone.  We can call in the A-Team to give us a hand whenever we want.  And, when you figure out who the good guys are, air is free.  I like that.  

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