Tuesday, July 5, 2011


When people find out that I live in the Phoenix area, they frequently ask me, “How do you stand the heat?” And we Arizonans usually answer with some variation of “The winters are worth it,” “Summer is our winter,” “It’s hot everywhere in the summer,” “It’s not so bad.”

This is not a post about the heat. It is a post about triumph.

On Friday, Brad was out of town (more on that tomorrow), and I was driving his car. Brad drives a 2001 Audi TT—cute little car that has just about lived out the measure of its creation. At ten years old, it squeaks and squeals and sighs and moans, and I am not very familiar with its personality. I had just dropped off Lily and her friends for their first musical theater performance, and I was headed home for a quick shower, with curtain in 90 minutes. About a mile from the theater (twenty minute from home), the road suddenly sounded different. I attributed it to construction and kept driving, but something in my mind just couldn’t rest.

Before I finish the story, I must address my history with Brad’s baby car.
Twice I have popped a tire on that car. The first time, I actually drove ten miles home on the flat, not knowing what had happened. It has weird, small tires that don’t really alter how the car handles when one is flat. Luckily, I hadn’t done any damage to the car—that time. The second time I popped a tire on this vehicle I accidentally smacked an unlighted median on a roundabout while driving with Lily. Brad was out of town, and I didn’t know what had happened. I actually drove a little way, thinking it couldn’t be that bad, until the rubberized air could no longer be ignored. I got out to check the tire, and not only was it flat, but I had been riding on the rims and the tire was mostly gone. I didn’t know what to do, so I called Karen, and she and Ken came to our rescue. Audis are German-made and German-reasoned, so there are a few little idiosyncrasies that are outside the realm of normal. Even Ken had a hard time fixing it, and the repair bill this time was a little more substantial than a tire.

See why my mind couldn’t rest?

But this time? This time I had been flawlessly operating the car. No curbs, no speed bumps, nothing. It couldn’t be the tire, it had to be the road. Instinctively, I turned at the next light, found a shady spot in an empty parking lot, and got out of the car.

And the rear driver’s side tire was indeed flat.

In my almost 42 years of living, I have never once changed a tire. In fact, it has been a lurking dread somewhere in my mind, clouding many a solitary drive across country. What was I to do? Call a tow truck? Call my brother-in-law? Call Ken?

I am woman. Hear me roar.

I had seen Brad change this tire twice before. I had taken workshops on basic car emergencies. I had half-listened to Ken as he ranted about that sorry jack. I could do this.

Remember—not instinctive German engineering. Luckily, I remembered Ken and Brad both talk about some weird tool used to remove the lug nut covers, so I found that, removed the covers, loosened the lug nuts, then located the jack. There was no marking on the jack to show which side was up, so I rigged it the best that I could, jacked up the car, removed the lug nuts and shoved off the tire. Filthy and sweaty, I was succeeding! When I measured the donut tire against the exposed axle, I could see that I needed to lift the car a little more. No problem.

Problem. The car was parked in a shady spot, all right. Shady and slightly sloped. I leaned back as I watched that baby car slowly roll forward and right off the jack, hitting the concrete barrier a foot ahead. That could have been worse! But now, the car was much closer to the ground, and I couldn’t get the jack under it. I tried for what seemed like forever (probably three minutes), when I realized I couldn’t do this. So, surrendering to the inevitable, I called my brother-in-law, who is a true saint among men and said he would leave his office and come help me.
Then it occurred to me. What if the jack was upside down? Stupid Germans. Why could they not mark the up side of the jack. (If you think this makes me sound imbecilic, Brad even acknowledged that that would be an easy mistake to make with this particular piece of crap.)

Easy solution. It was upside down. I got the car lifted up again, called Hubert back and told him I was fine thank you and could handle this crisis on my own.

Five minutes later, the donut was securely attached and the offending tire (with a very large nail protruding from the tread, I might add!) was tossed into the trunk. I was on my way in less than thirty minutes.

All by myself. Dripping sweat and covered in grease and dirt. Wearing my favorite hat. In 112-degree heat. I know, because I took a picture of the dashboard to prove it.

I made it back to the theater with less than five minutes to spare. Good thing I had my lucky hat, because my hair, although now clean, was still wet.



  1. Good Job Chickie!!!

    I have never changed a tire either and I dread the day...

    In the heat you get double points - way to go!

  2. I'm bowing in amazement to you right now.
    May I make a suggestion without any humor or sarcasim intended? Take a sharpie marker and write on that stupid jack "this side up". I would suggest marking little arrows on it too.

  3. Does Brad have the same luck with his tires as you do? Sheesh! Good job, though... that is a true test in this heat that turns us all to puddles.

    And you still have a smile on your face.

  5. Wow! One more accomplishment to add to your list!

  6. OMG! I think I would have just started crying! GREAT job!

  7. Awesome! Does the car save up all the tire troubles for you or does it share equally with Brad?

  8. You will held up as an example of powerful womanhood! Way to go!

  9. Good for you!! I had to change the tire on my van a few months ago in the dark. All I can say is thank heavens for that Young Women's lesson years and years ago.
    You feel so tough afterwards, huh. Whoot!!

  10. yep, that's it, you PRETTY MUCH ROCK!!! all hail JEN!!!

  11. I've changed a tire pregnant a couple times, but thankfully never in the brutal AZ summer. I bow to you!

  12. You are AWESOME! Roar louder! I have never changed a tire before and luckily probably don't have to worry about that in the near future. I think it's pretty awesome you did it all on your own :)