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Sick and Tired

I popped a tyre while parking my car outside a girlfriends flat. I was in a hurry, I did it with a bit of a flourish, I hit the kerb and I paid the price.

It broke my heart. Tyres aren’t cheap these days and, having fitted my car with four new tackies a year ago (and having done less than 3 000km on them), the prospect of purchasing new rubber was not a pleasant one.

It broke my spirit too. The basics of changing a tyre are not a mystery – open boot, remove spare, remove tools, jack up car, loosen nuts, take off wheel, put on spare, tighten nuts, lower car, pack away tools, pack away broken tyre. Simple, right? Not really, as it turned out. Not when your car is trying to break more than just your ego and your bank balance.

Hanging my head in shame, I called one of my guy friends for help. He was as gracious as it was possible to be on a Sunday morning, and allowed himself to be dragged away from the grand-slam-tennis finals. He became progressively less gracious as he tried to get the wheel off. And tried. And tried again. The thing would not budge – and it very nearly broke his back.

I called him a weakling – unfairly, considering he’s well-built and one of the strongest guys I know. He called me a reckless ‘parker’ and accused me of messing up the suspension. His girlfriend, the voice of reason, called us both of childish – then she called the AA.

The mechanic was prepared. He arrived with a can of Q20 and a rubber-headed hammer roughly the size of a small European country. Just as well – it took him all the applied knowledge in the world and 20 minutes of hard graft to pop the wheel off. The reason? Apparently it was rusted to the rest of the car, as a result of all the rain we’d had.

There’s a lesson here – several lessons, in fact, and I’ve filed them all for future reference. One: park carefully and avoid mounting the kerb. Two: keep some kind of lube and a large hammer in the car – you never know when they will come in useful. Three: the next time the car goes in for a service, ask the mechanic to remove all four wheels and lubricate the hell out of everything. Trust me, it’s easier to have that conversation than to find yourself stuck on the side of the highway at 10pm, unable to change a tyre for reasons that have nothing to do with your abilities.

My spirit is on the mend, and my friend’s physio says his back will be sorted soon. My heart is still broken, though – tyres really don’t come cheap these days…

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