Late last week, Choppy and I headed to Washington, D.C. for a conference. I broke the trip into two days, expecting that I would get there with plenty of time to attend the conference.

Things I didn’t expect? To get a flat tire somewhere in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Somewhere on a non-interstate highway, Choppy and I were enjoying a nice drive through the mountains; the day was overcast, and we ran into regular showers, but the weather seemed appropriate to the landscape. Although we were cutting our arrival close to the beginning of the conference, I figured we would arrive with plenty of time to attend the first day of sessions.

And then, the light on my dashboard indicated that I had low tire pressure.

My initial reaction was to ignore the dashboard light, a habit bred from driving more than a few old cars with dashboard lights that always remained on, phantom indications of problems that didn’t exist (as opposed to the myriad problems with those cars that actually did exist, and yet were not indicated by any dashboard lights).

As the light did not turn off, I eventually pulled over to the side of the road and discovered that my back passenger tire was most definitely going flat.

So, not a false warning, it turns out.

Now, my immediate solution to this obvious problem was not to find a place to fix it, but to see if I could nurse it along to get as far as possible. This consisted of stopping at a gas station, filling the tire with air until the “tire pressure low” light went off, and repeating as necessary.

Probably not the recommended way to deal with a flat.

Also? I should really learn how to change a flat tire. Though I wouldn’t have the rest of this blog post if I knew how to do that.

After doing this for maybe 30 minutes, I pulled into a gas station and realized the air was now coming out a lot faster. To the point where I realized more drastic measures were required.

So I went inside and purchased some Fix-a-Flat.

Again, probably not the recommended way to deal with a flat.

The clerk at the gas station was very nice, and volunteered to come out to the car to put the Fix-a-Flat in the tire. But after he did so, he recommended that I head to the next town to get the tire fixed.

In what was probably the best decision so far that day, I took his advice and headed to the tire station in the next town and, after a rather long wait (mostly due to the rather large number of people waiting to get tires fixed, a number that seemed doubly high because (a) the town where this tire store was located was very, very small, and (b) many of the people in the town were Amish and had no need for this sort of tire repair), I had a repaired tire at an absurdly low price, and was on my (now very late) way to D.C. for the conference.

As for Choppy, she didn’t seem to care at all about the lengthy tire change, though I am pretty sure this was mostly because she got to go on the “jack ride” when the tire guy jacked the car up to get the tire off. It’s probably as close as she will ever get to being a NASCAR driver, so she has to take what she can get.

And, the most important part of any post, the pictures:

As I rolled into the town where I got the tire fixed, I saw these guys. I think they are war re-enactors, but I'm not ruling out gypsies (though obviously not the kind on "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding," the old-time movie kind).
As I rolled into the town where I got the tire fixed, I saw these guys. I think they are war re-enactors, but I’m not ruling out gypsies (though obviously not the kind on “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding,” the old-time movie kind).
The tire shop where I got my tire fixed. First words I heard from someone when I got there? "You aren't from around here, are you." Note: that period is intentional. This was not a question.
The tire shop where I got my tire fixed. First words I heard from someone when I got there? “You aren’t from around here, are you.” Note: that period is intentional. This was not a question.
I really wanted to pick this thing up and go all NASCAR on my car. The lack of a tire really cramped my style on that one.
I really wanted to pick this thing up and go all NASCAR on my car. The lack of a tire really cramped my style on that one.
I think this sign may actually be a warning for the animals. I mean, that deer and bear-like creature depicted on the sign appear to be headed for a collision course. Which is far better than either being headed for a collision course with my car.
I think this sign may actually be a warning for the animals. I mean, that deer and bear-like creature depicted on the sign appear to be headed for a collision course. Which is far better than either being headed for a collision course with my car.