The warm sun baked the little red car. Windows rolled down, Ann sung her heart out to the local radio as the hills and fields rolled by. The miles under her belt, motorway stretched out before her. Today was a good day for she was going to a place that bought her joy. A conference centre in her home town. There she’d be able to explore the neighbourhood’s she grew up in, parks she’d played in before settling down to work.
Just under 25 miles to her next planned stop on a grand road trip coast to coast. 15, 10, 5. Disaster struck, a pothole in the poorly maintained road and the beeping of the tyre pressure warning light coming on. Thank God it didnt blow out, Ann prays to herself. Obviously something was very wrong but the wheel was still turning for now. As the exit for the services appears she slows the car, indicating off and pulling over into a bay at the first sign of somewhere she may be able to stop.
In this moment Ann says another little prayer to herself, thanking fate this time for the week previous where she had learnt to change a tyre. Ann’s husband Charlie was always pokeing and prodding her little car. There was never anything wrong with it he just liked to make sure it was fit for every journey, at even the whiff of a journey beyond their small towns border, even into the city it satellites, Charlie would insisted on a full check of coolant, oil and tyres. You never know, he tells Ann each time, I just want to make sure you’re safe. Ann knows this is Charlie’s good heart trying to look after her despite her insistence it doesn’t need to be checked this regularly. One day she’d snapped at him, about a week previously, what happens then? What happens if I’m out miles from home and something goes wrong with the car? A tyre bursts, the engine over heats? You’re always doing this stuff for me, how do I deal with it when it actually happens?
That’s how Ann found herself on her hands and knees in their red brick paved driveway learning which bit of the chassis holds all the weight, where the notch is to fit the jack to and how a wheel changes in and out.
Back in the entry way to the services, Ann assessed the car. She could do this, she told herself. Then she assessed what she was wearing. Not in her cream suit trousers she couldn’t. Good thing she was headed to a conference so had her over night bag in the boot. She pulled out a pair of pajama bottoms with pink bunny rabbits printed on them. Not ideal but she’d rather stain these than her suit. Of she plodded to the service station toilets for a quick change.
As Ann returned to the car she saw two middle aged men looking at the wheel, now visibly lacking in air. As she came closer the taller of the two, with long shaggy hair and slightly worn features called to her, hi there little miss, we thought you’d gone to call someone, we can change that for you if you’ve got the kit, save your breakdown coming out.
Ann squinted through the sun at them, they looked friendly enough, the kind of people who you’d expect to know how to change a tyre. But what if they didnt? What if something went wrong? Besides she’d only learnt to change it last week and she’d be dammed if she wasn’t going to use that new knowledge.
It’s ok she replied as she got closer, I think I know what I’m doing, but if you wouldn’t mind passing me the things as I need them then that’d be appreciated.
You sure miss? Those bunnies don’t look overly confident! The shorter of the two joked.
Yeah said Ann, besides it’s my car so if I do something wrong, it’s my fault but if you were to you’d be putting a stranger in danger. It was meant as a joke but it may not have sounded like it as the words left Ann’s mouth.
Ok suit yourself one of the blokes huffed. Then they wandered off leaving Ann alone with her chance to practice her newfound tyre changing skills. Content she got to work. Nuts loosened, car lifted, old tyre off, new tyre on, tighten nuts as much as you can then, drop car, tighten more and away we go! Ann looked at her handy work, thrilled. She was all ready to get back on the road and only one set of bunny print pyjama bottoms had suffered in the process.