“You could have seriously injured yourself! If you put too much air in a tire it will blow up! You could have blown the tire!” That's what the young man at the gas station told me at about 9:00 pm on a warm summer night after I told him what had just happened.
Before my husband had gone out of town he told me, “Watch the air in your tire. I think you may have a slow leak.” Well … that’s what I thought I heard him say. He claims that he was a little more specific about which tire I should be watching. But details aside, on my way to the airport to pick him up, and thinking I was really on top of things, I pressed the “Info” button on my steering wheel to check the pressure in the tires. I had no idea what the numbers should be, but the fact that “LR” had a lower number that the others (LF, RF, and RR) seemed to indicate that the “Left Rear” tire needed air. Right?!
Had I ever put air in a tire? Not that I could remember, but how hard could it be? My only concern was that I was wearing white pants. Still, I was confident I could do this, and I thought I could do it without getting dirty if I was careful.
I found a gas station. I found the air hose. And I got some quarters. Then I went to work putting air in the tire. After numerous injections, and no change at all in the tire pressure indicator on my dash, I concluded that this was going to be a more challenging task than I’d expected, and that I might need to put a little more muscle into the effort. Long story short, while the “LR” pressure number wasn’t changing, I happened to notice that the “LF” pressure had sky rocketed. At least I was able to stop worrying about whether or not I had a reasonable amount of strength for a 54 year old. And thankfully my degree in computer science paid off in the moment. (Programming requires a great deal of logic after all.) It became obvious to me that the “LR” and “LF” indicators were swapped. I was pretty proud of myself for figuring this out, so when I went back into the gas station to get more quarters, I told the guy behind the counter what had happened. That’s when he sort of yelled at me. When he was done, I informed him that I hadn’t intentionally put myself in harm’s way. I was actually trying to stay safe ... and clean!
As I walked back to the car, I carefully inspected the tires. It turns out that if I had just looked at them in the beginning, I’d have known which one needed air. But honestly, it never occurred to me to do that. I got so caught up with the technology that I forgot to use common sense! So … I quickly let air out of the Left Rear tire (indicated as "LF") and added it to the Left Front tire (indicated as "LR") and went on my way.
After my husband’s plane finally landed, and I told him the story, he told me that he’d recently had the tires rotated on my car (thank you, dear), and that they must not have reset the indicators. He sort of implied that "one" might have considered that option earlier in the process when it appeared that I wasn't getting any air into the tire. Well, I’m here to tell you that I have no idea how those indicators work, it never entered my mind that it was even possible for them to get messed up, and just thinking about it enough to write this story bores me to tears. If I’ve only got 100 years on this earth, the less time I spend thinking about tire pressure the better.
I like technology, but on that warm summer night, it did me no favors. Thankfully this story has a very happy ending; my white pants never got dirty.
Has technology ever frustrated you? If so, tell me your story on the Tech Frustrations web site.
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