In Which My Car Gets a Flat 3,000 Miles From Home

I attended the Character Voice and Setting workshop last week. But this post isn’t about that.

This post is about how my rental got a flat tire three thousand miles from home.

I got from the Portland Airport to Lincoln City in one piece, but on Sunday night my rear passenger tire deflated. I called Hertz Monday morning and was told by a very nice customer service rep that it would cost $79 to have them send someone out to change the flat for the spare in the trunk. Hmm. In addition to not wanting to pay $79, I was unlikely to make it back to Portland on the spare (which had a speed limit of 50 MPH, plus the general advice to drive no more than 70 miles on a donut with Portland 85 miles from Lincoln City).

I’d never changed a tire before.

At this point I thanked the customer service rep and took to the Yahoo group for the workshop asking if anyone knew how to change a flat. Several people responded either on list or in person. Once I got to the first class of the day DWS told me that if I could make it down to Les Schwab (which we don’t have on the East Coast) they might be able to repair the tire and might not charge me.

I was about ready to shift into panic mode–3,000 miles from home meant: don’t know the town mechanics, can’t call any friends for a ride, don’t have a second car to use, have to get the rental back in time, can’t miss my flight home, gotta make it back in time for work–but I didn’t have time freak out. Writing assignments due everyday and a short story (that I hadn’t started yet!) due on Tuesday. Plus it was raining.

I’d already gotten set up at the Anchor with groceries and secured a ride, so I decided to put it off. I’d end up riding with a few generous folks over the following days.

By Wednesday I’d turned in the first short story and had a few hours after breakfast. I told everyone at the table that I’d bought cookies and watched YouTube videos on tire changing and if anyone would come out I would give them a cookie. I was basically just looking for one person stronger than me who could step in if the jack proved too difficult or the tire too heavy.

The result:

How Many Writers Does it Take to Change a Tire?
From left to right: Dan Holmberg, Julie Nordeen, Michael Kowal, Michael Thomas (who didn’t believe I’d really bought cookies!), and Jeffrey Ballard

I still haven’t changed a tire.

After the spare was on, I drove down to Les Schwab. It took them about 25 minutes to patch and install the old tire. For Free. I must have looked like a psycho to the woman behind the counter and the mechanic, because when it was all over I damn near cried.

I drove back to Portland on Sunday without issue.

So, yeah. Writers are awesome. (Thank you!)