This Ever Happen To You?
You go to do something. It could be something you've done many times before. You expect to do it in your normal amount of time, in your normal fashion. No hitches.
But, this particular time, out of the blue, there are hitches. Simple tasks become not so simple.
It's frustrating, annoying, and you can wonder why the world is suddenly against you. Then, later on, you discover that as inconvenient as all of that was, it kept you from a greater inconvenience, or even something life threatening.
Things like that happen to me on a fairly regular basis. In fact, it happened to me yesterday.
Here's what happened.
The Day Was Supposed To Be Easy
I had five ATMS to fill. That's it. I didn't have to be out early because one of the places doesn't normally open until noon, and another until 3 PM, and it wouldn't take more than maybe three hours to do them all, and that only because a couple of the ATMs were in different towns that would take some time to get to.
In Oregon, we're barely in Phase One of a three phase plan to get life back to 'normal.' Basically, that means that bars and restaurants, where the majority of our machines are, can open up with limited seating, observing social distancing, and preferably with masks.
So, I kept busy at home until about noon, went and retrieved the ATM money, and then went to the place that generally opens at noon.
It wasn't open. It's still not opening three days a week, and one of those days happens to be Thursday.
Okay. No big deal. On to the next.
I happen to check the app where service calls are placed. A pizza place in the vicinity of where most of the ATMs are wants to open up and space their machines according to social distancing regulations. I don't know more than that, but I decide to stop back by my house, pick up some knobby balls in case the crane machine with them is one of the machines they want turned on, and I head up to my second destination.
I get there, swing around to the back parking lot and go in to assess the situation. They have games and a jukebox, along with the ATM. The place where the games are is dark. No one's really been playing them, I'm told, so I won't have to worry about filling anything other than the ATM. I go back, get the money, fill the ATM, make sure everything is up and running, say goodbye to the owner and walk out.
As I'm trying to leave the parking lot, I realize that something's not right. It's like I'm dragging something. That's how it felt. I wonder what I could be dragging because surely I would have seen that going in.
I get out, and walk around trying to see what might be stuck and where. When I finally get around to the back passenger side, I see the problem.
Great. Just dandy.
All the tires on the van are new, within nine months old, and the last oil check (which happened days before the lockdown here), the air in all the tires were checked and filled.
I must have ran over something. It didn't really matter what. I still needed to do something about it.
Problem was, I wasn't exactly sure what the van had in the way of a jack, a tire iron, or a spare.
The spare was easy enough to find. Those typically are bolted to the bottom of the vehicle in the back. Sure enough, there it was. The jack took a little more effort to locate. Those can generally be found in some kind of compartment, either in the back under the floor, or above a wheel well. It wasn't in back, nor over the first wheel well. Of course, it was in the last place I looked.
The jack isn't the kind that you can pump up and down, but it's more of a rotating motion, where the handle is longer and so it's going to hit the ground if you just rotate it like clock hands. That means some sideways movement at the halfway point in order to keep going. That's handy, but if not done exactly at the right angle, you end up hitting the ground. Or in this case, the gravel.
Figuring out which way to go, then how high to jack the vehicle up were both unknowns to begin with. The jack comes with pictures serving as instructions, but I didn't really get anything out of them that would prevent some trial and error. Only two ways to go, so that didn't take too long. Getting the jack high enough was harder, simply because as the van went up, the flat tire stayed where it was, thanks to the suspension, I guess.
At any rate, I finally got it up to a point I thought would work, and went to remove the lug nuts off of the wheel.
Unfortunately, I still hadn't found the tire iron. In my experience, there isn't always a separate tool because you use it with the jack. In this case, the handle was attached to the jack and wasn't going to come off. So, I went back looking for the tire iron.
Turns out, it was in the compartment where the jack was, but back inside where I couldn't see it at first glance because it was partially covered by the wheel well, and because it's black colored sitting inside a dark compartment.
While I was back there finding the tire iron, I decided I should do something about the spare. I'd tried when I first found it to detach it from underneath, but it wasn't bolted in like it normally is. That meant there needed to be someway else to unfasten it. I didn't know where to look or what that might look like, so I called up the general manager. Turns out, he didn't know either, other than it was some kind of cable device and that I would have to lower it.
As I was talking to him, I saw a small circular cover with some pictures on it. They were small, hard to decipher, but it looked like it had something to do with the tire. I pulled the cover off and found a hole with sides that kind of resembled a bolt. Good thing I'd found the tire iron because I needed one end of it to crank with so I could lower the tire.
Then, I had to figure out how to detach the cable. Two cables, actually, since there was another one with what looked like a bolt or release valve. I tried loosening it with my hand, but it was too tight, so I found a crescent wrench which either wouldn't open wide enough, or made it hard to get the right angle because the handle was too long and it was all happening inside the wheel.
Fortunately, it didn't need to be twisted too far for me to take the rest of it off by hand. That freed it from the piece stuck through the large hole in the center of the wheel, but then I had to figure out how to get the piece through the hole. Turns out, the piece comes off the cable, but I wasn't smart enough to figure that out until after a few minutes of attempting to angle it through. It wasn't quite like the square peg in the round hole, but similar principle.
After all that messing around, I went to take the lug nuts off the flat tire. They came off in short order, but when I went to remove the tire, it wouldn't budge. I went back to the jack. For a while, instead of lifting it, I was lowering it, so I wasted time getting that right. I don't know how long it took, but it felt like forever—it was hot, my arm got tired, and my whole body was aching form lying down in the gravel in order to it.
Finally, I got the tire high enough to remove it. But when I went to put on the spare, it still wasn't high enough. Back to the jack I went. Another several minutes and I was able to align the bolts and the holes.
When it came time to put the lug nuts back on, I managed to put them in backwards, so I had to turn them all around. Once the lug nuts were as secure as I could get them by hand, I went back to the jack. That took forever to lower it. My arm felt like it would fall off, or permanently hang at my side, useless forever. Another eternity passed and the jack loosened enough to be removed.
I didn't bother to put everything back where I found it. I cleared room on one side of the van to put the flat, used the tire iron to crank up the main cable while I wrapped the one with the lock around something underneath so it wouldn't drag along the road, and then got into leave.
Thankfully, I didn't have any issues with the spare. It felt like it was secure and functioning properly. The tire warning light, however, wouldn't go off. Generally, after a mile or so it blinks out, but it didn't. I didn't know why, figured it might be okay to drive on anyway, but I was tired, I hadn't eaten lunch, it was already after 2 pm (really? I'd only been there about an hour?!), and I was dirty from lying in the gravel and from the grease on the tires.
I decided to go home, wash up and change. Probably wouldn't be the best thing to show up in public places like I was. When I was finished with all that, being closer to where I knew could get the tire fixed, I decided to go do that, after I couldn't get ahold of the general manager to ask permission.
While I was there, I grabbed some lunch from a food vendor across the street, came back, sat outside on a bench in the shade and ate.
Back In Business
About half an hour total, I was back in the van, heading north to the final three ATMs. The service tech who fixed the flat and replaced it told me I'd probably ran over a screw, based on the hole. I had to show him how and where to put the spare.
The next place I went to is a sushi bar. There was a customer there picking up a to go order, but that was it. I got the machine filled, answered some questions from someone who either worked there or owned the business, and then headed to my last two stops.
As I approached the one, I realized, much to my chagrin, that I was in the wrong place. I confused it, I guess, because both places, where I was and where I really needed to be, start with the same letter, and both are bars. I turned around and headed back down the street. The other place was just about a block.
The Silver Lining
This is the place I mentioned that usually opens at 3 pm. I get there, and see a sign that says it's still on its modified pandemic hours, which means it's only doing to go orders on certain days at certain times. Fortunately, Friday was one, but with only a two hour window between 5 and 7 pm. It was something like 5:15 pm when I got there.
Now, had everything gone as it was supposed to, no hitches or glitches, I would have been there at least two hours too early, and maybe even earlier. Meaning, I'd probably need to go back today, after finishing the ATMs I was given in totally different places.
Coincidence? Maybe. No big deal? Probably. Still, it saved me, and therefore the company, an extra trip, even though I ended up wasting time with the fixing the tire and getting the flat fixed.
Moral of the story?
Sometimes, if things are suddenly going wrong, there might be a good reason. Rather than getting upset, frustrated or wondering why the world is plotting against you, take a deep breath, calm down, go with the flow, take it in stride, and get back to whatever it is you need to do as soon as the circumstances permit.
I'm talking to myself here. Am I listening, self?
Probably not. I might need a few more of these situations before I finally get it.
In the meantime, I will try to be grateful for adversities with silver linings.
All images courtesy of Glen Anthony Albrethsen