My Brief Stint as a Mechanic and Other Tragedies

Thursday night I drove from school to my parents house, 8 hours of uneventful interstate. More annoying than interesting really, Cora the Corolla spent that 8 hours wanting to jump the median into the oncoming traffic. My steering wheel shook more violently than a weed whacker the whole way home. But I didn’t think that was worthy of my attention, it’s probably just how cars work.

Friday morning, my dad called me out to the driveway to look at Cora in wonder. While she looked normal to me, apparently I had driven the whole way home on a flat time. Oops.

Now, this being the second time I had done this in the past three months (Christmas break anyone?) it was cause for concern. Concern, and a fatherly lesson.

Saturday night in the 34 degree Rochester sleet, we prepared for battle. We pulled out air compressors, winter hats, strange wrenches, a tiny metal contraption that apparently had the ability to lift my car clean off the ground, and some snacks.

My dad does not mess around, and if he’s going to teach me how to change a tire he’s going to make sure I can physically complete each necessary task. I laid on the ground and cranked the car up to a suitable height and then we set in on taking the bolts of the traitire (TRAITOR + TIRE). After a sufficient amount of jumping on wrenches to loosen bolts meant to be dealt with by a 48 year old man with hands like hooves, the last bolt would not budge. Wouldn’t budge. We hacked and spun and poured this stuff called PT Blaster all over the place, which sounds like an 80s action figure but is actually an industrial strength abrasive. It’s also a shockingly vibrant orange.

At this point we’d been losing a fight against metal for twenty minutes and we looked so pathetic and cold that the neighbors started collecting to watch us flounder. The man across the street came armed with all his tools and a story about how PT Blaster had worked for him by staining his brand new bathtub. Just can’t get enough of the stuff.

So we struggle and discuss and I go inside for a pudding break to get my blood sugar up which must do the trick or something cause then we won the battle. But I assure you, we have not yet won the war.

We get to work putting on the spare tire, at this point we’re an hour in and I’m firmly reminded that I am going to college because physical labor makes me angry. Luckily, my spare tire was also flat. So we jumped out of the frying pan and directly into the fire.

At this point we’ve taken off a tire, put on a tire that we determined to be a loser, and transitioned quickly into leak-assessment mode. This involves filling a bin with water and spinning my original traitorous left front tire around looking for bubbles that mean leak. We originally considered doing it in the bathtub but we figured one bathtub horror story was enough for one evening.

Not a single leak was found, and to spare you the rest of the gory details, the next thirty minutes involved cranking my car up and down three more times in order to re-remove the world’s worst spare tire and replace it with my traitire. I walked away cold, proud, and with a newly memorized AAA Roadside Assistance number.


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