Aug 22, 2007

On Being A White Knight

It's not easy, giving a shit. I spent most of an afternoon after work one Monday a few weeks back kneeling in the grass verge alongside a four lane highway sweating like a baker's underarms.

And no, I hadn't found Gawd.

I spent the time helping my syster, whose van had a flat tire. And not just a 'the pressure is a leetle low' flat, it was one of those phenomenal Hollywood flats where you have to pay a stunt team a coupla thousand dollars to get a really cool effect where the tire blows clean off the rim and beheads one of the evil henchmen. The tire had broken it's bead, which is to say it was entirely loose on the rim, just sort of floating there, wobbling around like a fat man's chin so I couldn't just jack the front end up and take the lug nuts off. Without tire pressure against the ground there was no way to hold the rim in place while I wrenched off the lugs without the weight of the van on the rim itself. And if you remember your basic physics, a great deal of the weight of the engine and front end were also resting on those five little lugs. Thank you Mister Newton.

Add to that the fact that the van is one of those custom conversion thingies, so it has a waterbed in the back and carpet on the walls and giant Capt. Kirk chairs up front and aluminum custom rims with this kind of crazy swoopy solid spoke style that seems to have been designed with the sole intention of making it impossible to get a proper lug wrench to bite. I ended up using the wrench that came with the van AND one of mine that had three different socket sizes and yet another one borrowed from a friend who just so happened to drive by in the vain attempt to make one get a good bite on a lug. ANY lug. No luck. In exchange for a tremendous amount of effort I ended up rounding off all the shoulders of all the nuts. Gods I hate mechanicing.

Here's a telling bit about me - Syster's husband who was lurking around the entire time suggested several dozen times that we just give up and call a tow truck and let them haul it to the tire place but no, I kept at it. I knew I could do it, given enough time. I'm stupid that way, I guess. I knew I could do it, knew it SHOULD be a five minute job, and I was not going to let it go easily. I simply don't like being beaten by inanimate objects, be they car rims or cardboard boxes or packing tape or politicians.

So, after lots of straining and cussing (cussing helps physical strength and ability, didn't you know that?) I got two loose by sheer bloodymindedness. I got two more loose by the expedient of having Sys drive the van forward a few inches to lighten the pressure on one and then backward a few inches so that the weight of the van was off the other lug. So far so good. Tons of strain, tons of grief, and four lugs off. And then the last one refused to give. It was utterly rounded off, and I think the tire installers must have welded it in place because extended feats of struggling had been thrown at it and it was not budging.

Even cussing wasn't helping any.

I tried every different way I could think of to loosen that lug. I hammered on it. I used every wrench we had several times. I changed positions, I stood on the wrench, I pulled on it, I pushed on it. I tried to tighten it more. I spit on it. I cursed at it extensively, colourfully, and without repeating myself for five minutes straight. I invoked karma, Buddha, Tolstoy and Pooh Bear. I worked on it for twenty minutes and every time I'd sit back on my heels and try the Curse Colourfully At It Technique again Sys' hubby would say "Let's quit."

And I'd try it one more time. I did that, I think, because I wanted to make Sys proud. Because I wanted to make myself proud. Because I didn't want to be beaten by a piece of inanimate metal. I did it because I knew if I stuck at it long enough I could make it work. I had to make it work. The good guy does not lose, right?

And right at the point at which I had spent forty sweating, searing, air-baked minutes kneeling in the grass alongside a four-lane highway, at the point at which every corner of that lugnut was rounded smooth off, at the point where I was reduced to repeating curse words, when every ounce of my energy had been expended in vain I tried one last time with the wrench from my truck.

And it finally gave with a horrific squeal of rust breaking loose and came off. The lug nut, not my arm.

That forty minutes of sweating and effort cost me two very large blisters, one for each hand. It also cost me a pulled muscle in my leg, a pulled muscle in my shoulder, a pair of sore feet, a pair of sore hands, and I exacerbated my tennis elbow again. I think I also managed to scrub about five years off the end of my life by making my aneurism worse, but that's okay because it'll be the five at the end, and those are always the bad ones anyway. And in the end I drove off, and she drove off on her spare toward her house, and to the tire place the next day, I learned later.

Was it worth it? I think so. Should I have given up earlier and just let someone tow it in? Probably, but I wanted it to work. Wanted to do it myself.

Wanted to be a white knight one more time.


Jean said...

goo'ness... a tad stubborn, eh?

Wonderful imagery, Mr White Knight!

Mickelodeon said...

Cussing always helps me be stronger, that's for sure. My mother can attest to that, since I have to help her move stuff a lot. =)

Maggie said...

First, inanimate = politician - LMAO that one really got me. Excellent.

Second, you are a hero. However I gotta say that when my husband is stubborn like this and we end up standing in the hot sun with kids spending time I feel would be better spent in the cab of an air-conditioned tow truck, I get a little annoyed. But then I think about the fact that he is actually sitting atop a white horse and brandishing his sword for me.

Irrelephant said...

Not always, Jean, but more often than is probably good for me. *s*

Mick, see? You vindicate me! *grin*

Maggie, it's the first thing that popped into mind that I could print on an *ahem* family blog.

And no, not a hero at all, just a guy who believes that his family should be taken care of, no matter the cost. And you keep that image of your Mister firmly in mind, kay? It makes us stronger inside when our Lady of the Manor smiles at us for being knightly.

Cheesy said...

Oh my I would have just shot the lugs off....
Sounds like someone needs a massage!

Vulgar Wizard said...

"I invoked karma, Buddha, Tolstoy and Pooh Bear" . . . nice.

Batgirl said...

Swearing is a sign of weakness leaving the body...or was that pain? I forget...

Irrelephant said...

Cheesy, had I my pistol I promise you I would have taken at least a few potshots at either the wheels or at Sys's husband, one or the other.

VW, I did, honest!

Batgirl, I was looking to YOU for the answers! Dangit!