female changing tireI left the house yesterday in time for a meeting. I was so proud of myself that I had managed to leave in time, with my son in tow. I reversed out of the driveway and made it as far as the mailbox, when I realized I had a flat tire. Not just a flattening tire. I’m talking a completely flat-don’t-bother-trying-to-go-anywhere flat tire.

Lucky for me, my mom lets me borrow her car. The problem is I don’t have the phone number of the lady I am meeting. So I have no way to tell her I will be late. All I can do is hope she is still going to be there when I finally arrive (which she is).

When I leave the meeting, I call my mom who recommends I call AAA. First I call my insurance company to make sure I have it, and it will be covered. It will be reimbursed to me after I initially pay for it. By the time I get home, I only have an hour before I need to leave to go somewhere else. If I call AAA, I don’t know if there will be enough time for them to come out and actually fix the tire.

So…I’m going to try to fix it. My mom suggests I use her car, but I know she needs to go somewhere in the afternoon. I have changed a tire on both of my two old cars. How different could it be between cars?! I’m sure I’ll be fine…hoping I can do it in the time I have before I need to leave….no pressure.

I change clothes and walk to my car. Since it’s the rear driver’s side tire, I park it backwards on the inclined driveway, thinking maybe I won’t have to jack it up as high since I’ll already have an advantage with the rear being on the incline. Who knows if that actually is the case or not.

I open the trunk and unload the stroller, a blanket (for emergencies), and a box of my Live Your Greatest Life books I keep handy. I lift up the carpeted mat, unscrew the black thing (don’t know what it is called) that holds the spare tire in place, unlatch all the jack parts, and squat next to the flat. Loosening the lug nuts has always been the problem for me when changing a tire. The person who puts the tire on before I do always puts them on extremely tight, and I can never loosen them. This time, I’m going to have to get creative, because I don’t have anyone to help–single moms 101. Granted the other times, I didn’t have anyone, but it just happens both times someone came upon me and helped. YAY for those times–not so much now. Dang it!

I try to remember how to put the jack together. I put the larger part under the grove in the car next to the flat. As I look at the other parts, I think, Okay you put this part into this other part, then you slide it into the (am I talking about a jack here?) jack.

female-changing-tireSlowly, I crank up the jack until the tire is off the ground. Then I put the socket wrench around the lug nuts, but the tire just keeps spinning. I guess I jacked it up too high. So I lower it where the tire is slightly resting on the ground. Then comes the moment of truth…I have to see if I have enough muscles to loosen the lug nuts.

I put the wrench on the lug nuts. Then I use all my strength and push down on the wrench. Nothing happens. I move to the other side of the wrench, and pull on it. Not even a budge. Maybe it’s just that one nut, so I try another one. Same thing occurs…as though I’m in the Twilight Zone. After attempting all five nuts, just to make sure it’s not the nuts, I realize that’s just not working. What else will help me get these off short of a hot man walking by? Of course, I want him to be “hot” if he is going to help and if it’s my fantasy.

Since that doesn’t happen, I’m left to fend for myself (welcome to single motherhood, right?!). I make sure the wrench is securely over the lug nut, and then I stand on the wrench’s arm, while holding onto the spoiler of my open car’s trunk. I put all my weight on the arm, and it doesn’t move. Then I slightly jump up and down until it finally releases. I can’t believe it was screwed on that tight. I jump down off the wrench’s arm and easily unscrew the nut. I do this maneuver once more when my mom comes out.

She stares at me and says, “Your dad’s on the phone and wants to know if you need some help.”

My mom hands me the phone, and I say to my dad, giving him a hard time, “Oh you have such little faith. I’m Jessica, not your other daughters. I can do this…(but it might just be to prove to myself that I actually can do it).”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m good. Thanks though.”

I hand the phone back to my mom, and she walks inside, while I continue to loosen two more nuts. I put the wrench on the last one, and it just spins around it. The nut is circular and doesn’t fit into the wrench’s grooves. What the heck is that? As the wrench spins, I have no idea why this nut isn’t like the rest of them. Of course, it couldn’t be that “easy.”

I go inside and ask my mom if my dad is still on the phone. He is. Good. I explain the situation, and he says, “It’s a lock. Where is the key?”

“Well considering I didn’t know there was a tire lock, I have no idea.”

I look in the truck where the spare tire and jack were. It isn’t there. My dad suggests I look in the glove box. I open a white plastic bag and find four nuts and one key. There it is.

Around this time, my mom comes out to “supervise.” It takes me a few minutes but I get the last nut off and tell my dad that I’ll call him later. I thank him and hang up the phone.

I’m wearing nylon pants with an elastic waist, so as I bend over to take the flat off the car, my mom says, “Your underwear is showing.”

“Really? No one can see it.”

“I can.”

I pull up my navy blue track suit pants and take off the flat. I pick up the spare and pretty much drag it over to the car. After three attempts, I finally line up the screws and put the nuts back on making sure I’m criss crossing them as I do.

I’m sitting on the ground tightening them in the same fashion, when my mom says my underwear is showing again. I turn around and look at her, and we both laugh. I have black stuff all over my hands, my mom says I have it on my face, I’m sweating and tired, and all my mom can think about is my underwear showing.

Once again, I pull up my pants, and my mom says, “When you are finished, I want to try and tighten them.”

Sure–maybe between the two of us, we can get them so they don’t fall off as I drive. My mom stands and tightens them a bit more. Then I try again, and we tighten them the best we can.

We we finish, I say, “And that’s how a single mom changes a tire.”

Then I look down and realize I never lowered the car back down. I say, “Oops, I guess I’m not quite finished.”

I use the jack and take the car down to the ground. Then I put the flat tire, the jack, and its components into the trunk and say it again. “Now that’s how a single mom changes a tire.”