While on my way to the Monksville Reservoir to find my glasses I got a flat tire and pulled over on the side of the road though there wasn't really a shoulder to speak of. There where plenty of cars on the two lane road and they where going pretty fast.
I had two problems. The first was that I know nothing about cars. While I am using my parents' car to get me and my kayak around while I'm training, I hope that once I'm home I'll tow my kayak with my bike and never have to drive again.
The second problem was that, while later that night I would find my cell phone buried under my bed, I did not have it with me at the time. So I needed a plan, and it was to call my dad and ask him what I should do. I began trying to wave down cars in the hope that someone would stop to help and lend me a phone. A lot of cars past by and nobody stopped to help.
It occurred to me that this would probably come to me needing to change the tire. This was not something I knew how to do, but maybe I would be able to figure it out. First I had to find out if I had a spare tire with me, so I opened up the trunk and picked up the mat that was the floor knowing that there might be a hidden compartment under it. The good news was that there was, the bad news was that, while it had some tools, some garbage, and some unidentifiables in it, I did not see a tire down there.
There was a truck across the street pulling off a side rode, the driver called out to me “Are you OK?”
Before I could explain my problem he told me “Don't worry, I called the police.” And drove off.
At this time a couple of thoughts passed through my mind. The first of which was that in NJ it's illegal to drive without shoes, yet I didn't have any with me. The second thought had to do with something else that was going on that may have also been a little bit more illegal, I wasn't sure.
I continued trying to wave down cars in the hope of solving my problem before the police showed up. After a while a woman stopped her minivan and asked me if I needed a hand. Just as I was beginning to explain to her that all I needed was to borrow a cell phone, the police car pulled up behind me and she drove away seeing that her services would no longer be needed.
It's a good thing the police came to help me. The officer got out of his car, walked up, and explained to me “You can't leave your car here, I'm gonna have to have it towed.”
“That'll cost me a lot of money, won't it?”
He answered “Yah, probably. It's just that this is a dangerous spot and I can't allow you to keep your car here.”
I looked around frantically for somewhere else I could put my car. There was a space that might work a couple hundred feet down the road on the other side. I asked the officer if it would be OK if I left my car there and he said yes.
Not knowing anything about cars I asked him if he thought that my car, with a flat tire, could handle that distance.
“It would be bad for the rim.” He told me.
I mentioned that I didn't know where my spare was, or even if I had one, since it wasn't my car. “You don't have a spare?!” he asked, in authoritative disbelief, as though he could give me a ticket for that alone. I showed him the secret compartment that did not have a spare tire in it, only looking at it this time I could see something that I hadn't noticed before. Underneath the secret compartment there was another compartment, and that one had a tire in it.
Before moving my car I asked the police officer if I could borrow his cell phone.
No. If I wanted I could walk to the station down the road, it wasn't to far away.
I moved my car and the police officer left me, no better off then I had been earlier, except that now I knew where my spare tire was, even if I didn't know how to install it, and the rim of my wheel was a little the worse for wear.
Once in my new location I went to the back of the car and began taking everything out that looked like it might have to do with changing the tire. I'm really good at changing the tube on my bicycle really quickly. This however was a different beast entirely. I had a feeling that I needed something called a jack, to bring the car up, but I wasn't sure. Either way, none of the tools I had pulled out looked like they could do that. Maybe for changing a tire I didn't need such a thing. I examined the wheel, thinking that I probably needed to unscrew those bolts. I didn't want to do that without a jack I decided.
A woman pulled over on the opposite side of the rode and asked me if I was OK. I walked over and told her that I was, but my car wasn't. Could I please borrow a cell phone.
“Sure, no problem.”
While my dad was explaining to me where to look for the jack, the police officer came back. In answer to the woman's explanation of what was going on the officer said “Yah, I had to deal with this guy earlier also.”
Once I had hung up the woman asked me if I would be alright. Not knowing the answer it took me to long to come up with something to say, so she was gone. The police officer got back in his own car and drove off.
Just as I had given up on him however, he pulled his car over next to mine on the opposite side of the street. I quickly moved myself over and met him next to my car. We looked for the jack where my dad said it would be and the police officer, kindly, told me how to change a tire making only one reference the whole time to the fact that I wasn't wearing shoes.
I thanked him profusely and we parted ways marking the beginning of a long and fruitless day.