On a brilliant summer day, the vibrant canola grain fields of Saskatchewan, Canada are playing show off. Their yellow blossoms shining so brightly should one not be wearing sunglasses laser eye surgery is given out free of charge from the glare. Driving an endless straight road stretch I believe a car with proper wheel alignment could find its own way. Suddenly a dreaded thud-thud-thud of a flat tire begins echoing under my vehicle.
“You really should get new tires!”
The memory of the advice of the car mechanic at my oil change prior to my solo prairie road trip blares into my ears.
Oh this is going to be a painful lesson in procrastination I think, pulling off the road and by some miracle a driveway of a farm yard. A large sign states ‘NO TRESPASSING’.
I halt my flappy wheeled vehicle and hope no dogs the size of lions are enforcing the farm yard rules today.
For those not familiar with the Saskatchewan prairies, the fact that a driveway appears at the exact moment my tire disintegrates may be similar in epic surprise to a giraffe and hippo strolling down the road hand in hand.
Don’t tell me giraffes and hippos don’t have hands. It’s my story after all.
So spread out is the population in this agricultural bread basket of the country one can drive believing aliens have abducted all living creatures.
I have changed a flat tire before. With toddlers in tow on a similar trip to see their Grandparents 25 years previously. My skills are extraordinarily current.
With the contents of my trunk laying about, luggage, an emergency first aid kit, a camera bag, presents from relatives for the new baby of the family and five dozen home made buns from Granny, it appears as a pop up yard sale with a bakery theme.
As I gaze at the cooler full of sausages sent by Granny for those now grown kids of mine I realize I may be able to distract lion dog with a sacrifice of meaty garlic links.
Finally eureka! I reach the hidden spare tire. The tiny wanna-be-a-spare-tire-when-I-grow-up donut comes with orange large lettering. DO NOT EXCEED 50KMS/HR.
Excellent I should return home in the next decade.
Not to be deterred I wrestle it out from it’s factory screws and it sits meekly making conversation with the sausage and baby clothes.
I’m sweating now as the tire jack and I begin a serious confrontation. I am determined it should prove of some use in the situation. The jack deems itself on strike clinging steadfastly to its tiny home in a corner so awkward now only my feet remain visible to passing traffic.
I appear as though I am being eaten by a hungry Hyundai.
With appropriate grunting and use of required language the jack finally gives way. I fly out of the back end of my vehicle like a cannonball. In a move of immense gracefulness my butt lands squarely in the sausages.
Great. Lion dog will think I am a giant coil of kielbasa.
Now with complete control of the situation I grab the car manual. On page 482 I find the ‘How to change a tire’ section.
My eye bulges at the repeated warnings ‘Do not do X or Y and definitely not Z while changing your flat tire or your tire will eject from your vehicle and you and multitudes of others may be killed or maimed’. (Words may have been altered here to get my point across.)
With shoulders slumped and an odd aroma of garlic floating in the air, I pull out my roadside assistance card.
“Where exactly are you Ma’am?”
“The middle of nowhere.”
No amusement noted on the other end.
“I’m somewhere between Timbuk and Buktoo.” That narrows it down to a hundred or so kilometers.
As the operator becomes less than amused I remember the best invention of the 21st century. GPS.
“Oh Ma’am I do hate to tell you this but your membership has expired. We won’t be able to help you after all.”
“Where is the lion dog when I need him? He could put me out of my misery.”
Some 45 minutes later, extensive use of credit cards, a conference call to an inter-provincial panel of roadside assistance chapters and approval by the Canadian Prime Ministers office my membership is valid.
Help is on the way.
Either I am getting older or tow truck drivers are getting jobs at age twelve these days. Treating me with such sweet respect I thought he might offer to get me a wheelchair, the young man had me loaded up in a jiffy and off to the tire dealership in Buktoo.
“So sorry Ma’am we don’t have a tire your size. Nope not here or any of the neighboring towns but we can order one from Metropolis and that should get here in less than 3 days.”
First of all there are no neighboring towns.
With a crazed eyeball bulging look and my sweaty hands grasping the counter I leaned perilously close to tire man.
“SO IF YOU WERE ME AND STRANDED IN BUKTOO WHAT EXACTLY WOULD YOU DO?”
Only one small window in the shop cracked at my query.
Thus began a frantic typing and tire man’s face pressed to his computer screen.
“Oh I do have a winter tire!”
Excellent. Should this trip take much longer I’ll need a set of them.
One hour later as I take the keys from the mechanic who has ridden my vehicle from its flat tire.
“Oh you will need to stop 100km from now in the town of Oogle Boogle to get re-tourqued.”
“Yes so your wheel doesn’t fall off.”
“Can’t you just give it a double dose of tourquing now?”
“Nope ma’am , you need a good re-tourque!”
I need a lot of things at this moment like a stiff drink but I am not seeing re-tourquing on the list.
100 kms later in the town of Oogle Boogle, population 172, I find the tire shop. Explaining my need for a re-tourque post flat tire the silver haired mechanic grins and I believe pats me on the head.
“Oh dear,” he laughs shaking his head. “Only the ladies ever stop.”
Let me just pick up my other eyeball that flew across the street.
“Ma’am I’m going to need your floozle schnoozle to do your re-tourque.”
“Your floozle schnoozle. To tighten the locking bolt on your wheels. Because they would have used it to fix your flat tire in Buktoo. Maybe it’s in your glove compartment.”
No floozle schnoozle there.
After a repeat performance of diving into the trunk with only feet protruding the floozle schnoozle is located.
Tire man does a re-tourque in exactly 12 seconds, pats me on the head one more time and gives me a little orange bag to hold my floozle schnoozle so I will never lose it again.
Well certainly that made the entire day after all. I wonder if men do stop for a re-tourque do they get an orange bag too?
Priding myself on being an independent and competent traveler I now can change a flat tire in less than six hours.
Finally would you like to see my floozle schnoozle? I know exactly where it is.
(Names of Saskatchewan towns and pieces of tire changing equipment have been changed to protect the innocent.)