Yesterday, I noticed my car’s obnoxiously sensitive “low tire air” sensor light was glowing orange on my dashboard, making my heart pound and my palms sweat as it tricked me into pulling over into a neighborhood to get out and check all the tires.
I walked around the car, squinting at each tire like I can gauge tire pressure at a glance. Like I know what I’m doing with a car, ever. I should have stuck a piece of straw in my mouth, scratched at my invisible testicles, and kicked each tire to complete the image.
I bent over and listened for hissing. I heard nothing. No slow leaks. No nails or knife slashes. Hmmm.
I couldn’t visually tell which one was low. And that’s why I think the sensor is obnoxiously sensitive. In general, I like sensitivity, but in my “lights that signify that I may have had my tire slashed by a crazy redneck, or that I’m possibly about to be stranded roadside,” I appreciate a little less sensitivity. Really. It’s fine. You can go ahead and wait until it’s actually a low-tire emergency, little Dashboard Anxiety Light of Impending Doom. KTHXBAI.
So on the way to the gym later, I pulled into a nearby gas station to air up the tires. I have the little stick tire pressure checker thingy (GAUGE?) and I know it’s supposed to pop out to 35 psi, so I figured I could handle the simple task of airing up my tires to make the little Dashboard Anxiety Light of Impending Doom go away and stop scaring me.
I pulled into the spot next to the machine. The front passenger tire looked the lowest, so I conveniently parked with the air machine on that (right) side of the car. Check!
I remembered to lock my car doors while I was unscrewing the little air cap thingy so nobody could dart into my car on the other side while I was distracted and steal my purse like I saw on the news has been happening while women fill their gas tanks. Check!
I put the cap I took off the tire in my pocket so I wouldn’t lose it. Check!
I placed my car keys in my other pocket for safekeeping. Check!
Then the guy in the big SUV pulled up into the parking spot on the other side of the air machine, watching me. Check?
And then the motorcyclist pulled up between our two cars to air up his tires. Che…no. Shit!
So now I have two men waiting on me (within a 10-foot-radius) to air up my damned tire, and I’m an officially diagnosed with generalized anxiety and panic disorder with associated agoraphobia, Xanax-popping MESS around other people, but you add “people waiting on me to complete a task at which I’m not really practiced” to the picture, and I’m shaking. No pressure in my tires, but plenty on ME.
So I put the air-giving hose up to the tire’s air-receiving part, and I push. I let the hissing sound of air moving happen for a minute, then check my tire pressure. It’s at 25. Whoops! That’s low. Better give her some more air.
So I push the air-giver into the air-receiver again, and check. Now it says 20. I am officially draining the tire, rather than filling it. WTF? Is this thing working right?
I tried adding air one more time, all while two large men stood next to their vehicles watching me and waiting to air up their tires. I pictured them checking their watches and imagined the sound of impatiently tapping feet.
I checked one more time. Under 20.
I am officially doing more damage than good, I thought to myself. Only I could manage to drain the air from my tire while trying to be self-sufficient and fill it myself. That takes a special brand of stupid right there, folks. Holy shit, I’m an idiot.
I sheepishly handed the air-giving hose to the guy standing there waiting, and drove through the parking lot to go work out my frustration and self-loathing on the weight machines (my gym is in the strip mall connected to this gas station), and decided to just let my husband handle it like he told me to let him.
That’s right. He’s sweet and chivalrous in the totally non-condescending, just-trying-to-help way, because he’s awesome, and he told me on the phone he’d deal with it after work, don’t worry about it. But nooooooooooooooo, I’m a stubborn red-haired Viking woman and I don’t need a man fill my car’s tires for me, blah, blah, blah. BECAUSE I’M NOT WEAK, DAMN IT. (I’m apparently too mentally slow to operate basic air-blowing machinery… BUT I’M NOT WEAK, DAMN IT.)
And now I’ve made the tire so low it might be dangerous for the poor man to drive to fill it up properly. Great.
So I went through my workout at the gym, seething and obsessing over the tire and how I’d worsened it, trying to figure out why I couldn’t get it to take any air. I’ve even used that air machine before. Successfully. Maybe the machine is broken?
And then I realized that yes, the machine is broken. The one in my head. Because scroll back up there and read through my airing-up-the-tire process. Go ahead. I’ll wait. See if you can figure out what I did wrong.
Here’s a hint:
That’s right. The lawnmower had no gas.
(Where was my stereotypical magical, misunderstood “differently-abled” movie character when I needed him?)
Because hey, guess what? It’s called an ON button.
And it turns out that if you want air to go into your tires, rather than just depressing the button that drains them of air, you have to turn the air-giving hose ON to push out the air that will then force itself into your low tire.
It’s a fucking Christmas miracle.
So it occurred to me while I was doing leg presses that I didn’t remember pushing the ON button for air. And then I died two thousand tiny, humiliated deaths imagining that the two guys waiting behind me for air had noticed. They probably laughed about it as I drove away on my extra-flattened tire, and rightly so.
After my workout, I drove back to the air machine to try again. Determined to push the ON button this time to prove my I’m Really Stupid theory.
Some guy was there filling all of his tires on his gigantic vehicle, and took so long that he felt bad and tried to help me fill mine. But I got all pressured and stressed out because dealing with people does that to me, and again, I’m under pressure to perform in front of a male stranger, so I told him I was good, and thank you so much, and drove over to a gas pump where I got gasoline.
And then I sat in my car.
I waited until the nice guy who tried to help me but actually just stressed me out because I need 8 Xanax a day to function in public left the parking lot so I wouldn’t hurt his feelings, and drove back to the air machine that was quickly becoming my Vehicular White Whale.
With no men looming over to unintentionally and unknowingly stress me out, I was easily able to fill up the stupid front passenger tire that was now -20 psi up to 35 by pressing the ON button before I started, and filled the two back tires that were 5 psi low each, as well.
As I drove away, the little Dashboard Anxiety Light of Impending Doom went off.
SUCCESS. Smack my ass, and call me Ishmael, you guys! I DID IT.