Oh my gosh, lemme tell you guys what happened to me this morning before work! To squeeze all that drama in (which happened in a half-hour), I’ll have to write this Jordan-style. What happens when you’re too tired to go to jujitsu, and too tired to get up for work at your normal time? You have a tire problem.

Last nite, I skipped jujitsu (in reality, I still didn’t go to jujitsu) and went to Mr. W’s house after work. Usually when I stay over, I leave when he leaves for work, and I go home to shower and get ready. This morning, however, I could not get out of bed. I was just sleepy and cold. So with a kiss, he left me in bed and warned me not to stay too long or I’d be late for work. (stop laughing, people who know me) I probably only left 10 mins after he did. As soon as I turned on the ignition, the car went thru its usual systems checks, and then flashed a warning on the dashboard: “TIRE LOW!” There were two or three more warning lights in red and yellow. I realize this is not a big deal for most men, who’d interpret the warning and act accordingly. But for me, I just stared at it. “Tire low? What’s that mean? Maybe my tire pressure is low. What do I do? WHICH tire? And how low is it? Is it DANGEROUSLY low, or can I drive the 20 freeway miles home, and the 7 miles to work until I can have some male coworker look at it for me? It’s a new car; how can it have problems?!” I got out of the car and examined all 4 tires. A minute later, I shrugged and sat back in the car. The warning bells and whistles were all still dancing like sugarplum fairies. I looked to the left, where I saw Mr. W’s truck parked. He’d driven my Accord to work today. If we’d left at the same time, I could’ve left my Lexus there to deal with later, and he could’ve taken his truck and I could’ve taken the Accord. Maybe he’s not too far out yet. Maybe he can at least give me advice on whether he thinks I can make it all the way home. My cell was dead, but luckily I had a car charger, which I plugged in and called his cell phone.
1.5 rings later:
Phone: Hi, this is [Mr. W]. Can’t get your call right now so just leave a message.
Me: Hey, it’s Cindy. I’m in my car right now, and there’s a warning light on saying my tire’s low. I don’t know whether I should risk driving all the way back home and explode into a big ball of flames on the freeway. *click*

Having nothing else to do, I got behind the wheel and backed out slowly. The car’s moving all right. I called James. He has an expensive foreign car, he should know what to do. But of course at 7:15a, he wouldn’t be awake yet, something about rolling into work at 10:30a daily. (Why do techies have such late work hours?!) I drove carefully out of the neighborhood and down the block before paranoia took over and I pulled into the nearest Chevron. After parking in front of the air/water machine thingie, I squatted and looked at my left front tire. Shouldn’t it say on the tire what the pressure ought to be? I read the entire tire, turning my head upside-down. “Max. 51 PSI” I read. I unscrewed the air cap on the tire, grabbed the air nozzle on the machine and shoved the two ends together. The instructions on the nozzle said to release lever for pressure reading. My tire was only a few lines past 30, so I must only be at 32 PSI! That’s really far from 51! The machine said 50 cents to use the air/water, so I went thru my coin purse. I had one quarter. How could I only have one quarter? I ALWAYS have coins! I checked my little travel wallet in the glove compartment; I usually leave coins in there. It was EMPTY! What the hell. The only money I had on me was a dollar bill. So I locked my car and trudged into the station’s mini mart.
Me: Hi, can I get change for this dollar? I just need to put air in my tires.
Girl attendant: Oh, that’s free!
Me: Really?!
Girl attendant: Yeah, just push the button to the side of the machine and hold for 3 seconds. *she pushes a button behind the counter*
Me: Thank you so much!

Back at the car, I pushed the button and the machine hummed to life. I squatted in front of my front left tire again and put the nozzle into the tire. A sticker on the nozzle handle said to check tire pressure often. Thanks for the late advice, that’s how I got into this mess, I thought. And then I realized that it meant “As you’re filling your tires, check pressure often so you don’t overinflate,” not “Haha you should’ve checked your tires more regularly so they didn’t go flat, ya moron.” I hit the trigger. Fffft. 34 PSI. Fffft. 36 PSI. Fffffffffffffffffffffffffft. 44 PSI. Fffffffffft. 49 PSI. Ffft. Ffft. Fft. 50 PSI. That should be good, right below the maximum.

I checked the left back tire. It said 32 PSI, too! So I filled that one to 47PSI. I had second thoughts about overinflating the first tire, so I let some air out to 47 PSI, too. I got back behind the wheel and started the ignition. “TIRE LOW!” I didn’t hit the correct tire!! I was able to drag the hose over to the right front tire, but the machine had stopped humming. I checked the tire pressure. It, too, was at 32 or so PSI. I turned my car around and then ran back into the mini mart to beg the nice lady attendant to turn the air back on. Then I ran out and filled the other 2 tires to about 48 PSI. Now the car did its check and everything showed fine. Driving out of the gas station, my phone rang with Mr. W’s special ring tone.
W: My phone’s doing this weird thing again with a SIM card problem and keeps shutting off and not letting me make a call! So I had to take the battery out, take the SIM card out, and then put it all back in and turn everything back on again.
Me: Yeah, when I called you, your phone only rang like one and a half times before it went to voice mail.
W: You must’ve called when it had turned itself off. I didn’t even know you called. I only checked my phone because while I was driving, I had the overwhelming urge to call you and tell you I love you, so I took out the phone and saw that it turned itself off again.
Me: You had the overwhelming urge to call me and tell me you love me because I was gonna die in a big ball of flames on the freeway.
W: Well where are you now?
Me: I’m driving to the freeway. I just filled up all my tires. They were all only at 32 PSI!
W: That’s pretty normal. What’d you fill them up to?
Me: Just under 50.
W: 50!! That’s WAY too HIGH! You don’t want to fill it that high because when your car’s driving for awhile, the tires heat up anyway and the pressure will go up again. You might blow a tire!
Me: *blink blink* …But the TIRE says the maximum is 51! That should be the maximum to drive it safely, not “Your car will explode at 51 PSI”!
W: It says 51? …Well, I don’t know, every car’s tires are different.
Me: The car’s warning lights all turned off now.
There was some further discussion about high-performance vehicles and under-inflating high-performance tires which I will not bore you with, presuming perhaps audaciously that you’re not bored already and are still reading this.

I suppose your average manly man would’ve gotten the car warning, and simply pulled a tire pressure gauge out of his front shirt pocket, or from the back of his pants, and tested the tires, humming all the while. And he would’ve said, “Oh, this car’s warning is pretty conservative. The pressure’s still fine. I’ll fill it up to 36.7512 PSI after work today,” then he would’ve put the tire gauge back up his ass and then hummed his way back into the car and driven uneventfully to work. But for ME, I imagine this exchange took place above my panic:
Cindy’s Spirit Guide: Dude, she’s freaking out. She can’t be freaking out. Call Mr. W, he’ll tell you everything’s all right.
Mr. W’s Spirit Guide: She can’t call him, his phone’s going wacky again!
Cindy’s Spirit Guide: Well, get him to fix it!
Mr. W’s Spirit Guide: How?! He doesn’t even realize it’s off!
Cindy’s Spirit Guide: I don’t know, she’s about to drive home! Make him call HER or something.
Mr. W’s Spirit Guide: He doesn’t even normally call her. What reason could I possibly give him to make him contact her?
Cindy’s Spirit Guide: I don’t know, make him call to check if she got up for work or something. Or just to call and tell her he loves her.
Mr. W’s Spirit Guide: Oh right, like that’s gonna work.