Friday, January 8, 2010


One of my tires went flat in 2008 and I took it to the nearest service station to have it patched. Unfortunately, the tire started leaking. Fortunately, I used the leak to motivate me to check my tires more frequently. While on a road trip, I'm really good about maintaining the PSI, but at home, I don't check once a month as is recommended and have let it go as long as three months.

Expecting the ice and snow predicted for Wednesday, I took advantage of the relatively nice weather on Tuesday to check the pressure of my tires before running errands. Sure enough, that particular tire was low.

Driving to my favorite convenience store, I discovered that the air machine was broken.

Driving a mile to another convenience store with air that I've used before, I tried to fill the tire. By this time, my hands were pretty cold and I had trouble using the pressure gauge but by the look of the tire, I was swearing that it was losing air instead of being filled. I pressed my gauge against the air hose and got a reassuring hiss of air, yet my tire kept getting flatter.

Cutting my loss before the tire became completely flat, I switched on the hazard lights and headed for a gas station a mile and a half away, driving only 10 MPH so I wouldn't ruin the rim.

Turning the corner a mile away, I noticed that the convenience store had an air machine and pulled in. Drat! The machine needed 75 cents before it would run.

Now, 75 cents may not be much, but when you're used to getting air for free, having to pay for air seems like highway robbery. Still, my tire was so low, I figured I may as well bite the bullet and got back into my car to fish out the quarters I needed.

Just as I approached the machine to feed it it's snack of change, a man called out to me from his pickup truck by the nearest gas pump.

"The Phillips 66 station down the road has free air. It's only a half mile away," he said.

"That's where I was going, but my tire is really low."

"Yeah, I saw you on the road." He came over to inspect the culprit. "You'll make it. It's only a half mile. The air hose is on the south side of the car wash, right in the middle."

"Thanks!" What a relief! That he made the effort was really nice of him. Please bless him for it, Lord.

I got in my car, drove the half mile slowly on the shoulder, and filled the tire before heading off to Walmart to get a few groceries in case the roads remained iced up for more than a few days.

Approaching a red traffic light near the service station that had patched the tire, I pulled in and stopped by the air hose at the self-service island wanting to ensure that it was something about the air hose at the second convenience store that caused my tire to lose air and not the tire itself.

Dust cap in hand and gauge at the ready, I was interrupted by the attendant that I recognized from when I got air there this past fall.

"May I help you?" he asked.

"Oh, no, thanks. I'm fine. I just need to check this tire," I replied.

He grabbed the air hose and started to drag it over.

"I don't think it needs air. I just want to make sure," I said.

He let go the hose and came over. "I can do that for you."

"Thanks, I almost have it," I said as I continued to check it myself.

He walked to the opposite tire. "I'll just check these for you," he said.

"That one is fine. I already checked. They're all fine except this one has a slow leak. I used an air hose a couple of miles away and I'd swear it was letting air out instead of filling it. I just need to make sure."

I finished checking the tire and replaced the dust cap. "Yes, it's fine. It had to be that air hose."

He started walking back inside saying, "We don't like to see ladies checking their own tires."

With a Captain Jack Sparrow-like wag of my head toward his retreating back, I thought, "I don't like it, either, but neither do I like you overfilling my tire the way you did the last time I was here." It had felt odd when I drove away so, I checked how much air he had put in. Sure enough, he had exceeded the PSI that I had told him which is the maximum PSI stated on the side of the tire. He didn't follow my instruction and didn't bother to read the tire or ignored it if he did.


Considering that it took four stops before I got air, I decided I'd had enough of this leaky tire business and I'd have Walmart check the tire while I shopped only to learn that the auto service department closed early because the technician went home, sick.

Oh, well.

Happy New Year!

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