Before I was Nurse Daddy, I was in my younger days, a Boy Scout. All through my childhood starting in the first grade as a Tiger Cub, all the way to my senior year of high school where I earned the highest rank of Eagle Scout. The Boy Scouts taught me immeasurable life lessons and skills, some of which I still practice to this day. Every day when I leave the house, I have my pocketknife, a multitool, and a flint and steel striker on my person at all times. While I try to always carry the Boy Scout Motto of “Be Prepared” to heart, the events leading up to, and including tonight, taught me that I can do better.
Like most middle class American families, we own two cars. The first car is a Ford Escape SUV that is the primary family vehicle that I refer to as the babymobile. Kind of like the batmobile, but with more baby wipes, and severely lacking in the heavy artillery department. The other car is my wife’s car from college. It’s been through the ringer a few times due to some unfortunate incidents with large four legged antlered animals, but it runs well and gets the job done of getting you from Point A to Point B. This is what I drive as a commuter vehicle.
Several weeks ago, I noticed that the right front passenger tire was looking a little on the low side. I thought nothing of it, took it across the street to the gas station and put air in it. A few more days go by and I notice the tire is low again. Upon further inspection, I found the causative agent to be a rather large and nasty looking nail sticking up out of the tread.
Now, I am fully capable of plugging a tire myself. I have done it numerous times. The only pressing issue was having the time to dick around with it on my next day off, which was already full with doctor’s appointments, music time at the library, and general errand running. So I got in the car and took it down to the local tire center to be repaired. After waiting for nearly an hour, the fine gentleman comes out from the garage to tell me that per their policy they are not allowed to plug the tire because of its age and signs of dry rotting on the inside. He was more than willing to sell me a new tire, but my wife and I decided a long time ago not to sink any more money into this car than necessary. Plus, the air was holding in the tire for several days at a time, so I just kept airing it up as needed until my next day off where I could set aside an hour to work on the plug.
Fast forward to two days ago. A cold front came through Southern Ohio and overnight turned what was late Summer into Autumn. As the time approached for me to go to work for the night, I happened to look out the front window and see that the rapid drop in temperature had rendered the tire completely flat.
Now, I have one of those cigarette lighter powered air compressors that can help pump up a tire if left stranded. It will get the job done, if you have 20 minutes to spare, which at the time I didn’t. Across the street I went to the gas station and bought a can of Fix-a-Flat. Within minutes, the goo was in the tire, the tire was off the rim and off to work I went.
Fast forward to tonight. After a rather long and interesting shift I anxiously left the hospital at midnight to head home to my first weekend off in a very long time. Keys in the ignition, engine fired up, and here we go! THUMP THUMP THUMP.
The tire is not only flat, but also completely off the bead and Fix-a-Flat oozing all over the parking lot. I look back at the parking spot I just pulled out of. There sat the nail that was in the tire. The nail….that had been holding in that tire for weeks, now had been pushed out by a $10 can of bullshit and lies. No worries! I can change a tire!
I pull out all the extraneous junk in my trunk (pun intended) to gain access to the spare tire. Here is where I realize I have come to Lesson #1 of preparedness for the evening. Check your emergency equipment regularly. To my frustration, I find that the retention rod hold the spare tire, tire iron, and jack has completely rusted over. It’s not budging. After several minutes of cursing, banging, and sheer brute strength, the rusted seal broke loose it’s hold on the retention rod and I was able to slowly spin it off. After this, I find that not only was the retention rod rusted, but so was the tire iron, and jack. Round two of cursing, banging, and sheer brute strength allowed the jack to slowly yet surely, begin to turn. Using the flashlight on my iPhone, I am able to begin to lift the car off the ground. Then everything goes dark. My phone battery, which was already low, completely quit on me, leaving me in near darkness. I opened the car door to get my car charger only to remember one little important bit of info. Oh yeah, I forgot. My car charger broke and I never replaced it. Lesson #2. Always keep a method of reliable communication with you and a method to maintain it.
Due to heavy rains earlier in the day, the fog was setting in and heavy. My only source of light was a nearby street lamp dimly glowing through the fog allowing me to at least see shadows. After almost an hour, the spare tire was on the car. Keys in the ignition, engine fired up, weekend here I come! THUMP THUMP THUMP.
Guess what? The spare tire is flat too! Lesson #3. See Lesson #1!!!! Luckily, I still had my handy dandy little air compressor in the car and the spare was still on bead. I began to pump up the tire, went back in to the hospital to call my wife to let her know I was ok and washed my hands.
I am happy to have made it home safely through the fog, but I realize that things could have been much much worse. Luckily I was still at work when all of this happened to where if needed, I had resources that could have been utilized. This weekend will now be spent working on plugging the tire, purchasing a new car charger for the cell phone, and soaking everything in my trunk with WD-40!! So from the mouth of an Eagle Scout, here is the moral of the story. Be Prepared to Be Prepared.