There are some things that are not immediately obvious and that we cannot know unless someone tells us. Things like having to change the oil in the car occasionally, or to change the furnace filter now and then, or that the earth revolves around the sun. They are things that are either not in plain sight or they seem illogical so someone has to explain it to us. I had one of those moments this week, and I felt like a complete idiot for not knowing. Here is how it all came about.
We had a long period of time this winter when it was below -30C and, because of Covid-19, I haven’t been going anywhere. Thus, my car sat in the garage and quietly died. In my defence, this is the first winter I have spent in Alberta in eleven years, so I was a bit out of practise when it comes to winter car maintenance. I had failed to plug in the block heater and I had not driven it for about three weeks. Fortunately, the automobile association came to my rescue and jump-started the car not once, but twice! I failed to take their advice to drive it for an hour and so it died for a second time when I was at the grocery store. But, that is not the does-everyone-except-me-know-this moment. There is more.
After I had driven the car around for an hour, I took it to have a trickle charger installed in the trunk. It’s a hybrid car, so the battery is in the back and that’s where the charger had to go. This is a gizmo that, when plugged in, will keep the battery charged when the car is not in use. Problem solved.
That was two months ago. Last weekend, the weather was warmer so I parked the car in the driveway to wash it and to vacuum out the interior. In the process, I noticed that the spare wheel was not where I thought it should be and I couldn’t see it anywhere. Bear in mind that I have never had to use the spare wheel in the many years I have owned this car, so it isn’t something I have had to think about.
I wondered if the neighbourhood thief had visited and had stolen the spare. Or, I thought, perhaps the technician who installed the trickle charger had accidentally left it out when he put everything back in the trunk. My son thought I should give the service centre a call and ask them if they had my spare tire sitting around, but since it had been two months since they did the work I very much doubted that was a possibility. Also, I didn’t want them to think I was accusing them of theft when I was only planning to accuse them of carelessness. Then, when I thought about it, I didn’t want to do that, either.
So, I decided it was my own fault for not paying closer attention, and I visited the tire store. I explained to the lovely man behind the desk that my spare was missing, lost, or stolen, and that I needed a replacement. He demurred because, he said, it would cost several hundred dollars to buy a new specialty spare. It is special because it is “compact” tire, which I think means it is small. He suggested instead that I see if the pick-a-part lot had one that would work. I agreed this was a good idea, and when he called them he found that they had one that would do the trick. He would have it delivered and call me when it arrived. Wonderful!
I went home and waited only a couple of hours before I got the call to come back to the tire store to have the new used spare tire tried on to ensure it would fit and then installed into the trunk of my car. At the store I settled in to the waiting area to watch HGTV while the mechanic took my car into the service bay to do his magic. Within a few minutes, though, he put his head round the waiting room door and said “Did you know there is already a spare in the trunk?”
My jaw dropped. “You are kidding!!” I said. “No way!!” I said. And then he showed me. There was the spare tire looking new and unused in the trunk of my car. It was at this point it dawned on me; there is a third layer to my car’s trunk. The spare had been hiding there all this time.
I was in shock. I could not believe I had not thought to dig deeper. I was embarrassed. I felt stupid for not knowing this before now or, if I had known, had forgotten about it. When I spluttered out all those thoughts, the kind mechanic smiled and said “Not to worry. These things happen.” As he handed me back my key, I asked him what I owed him. He grinned again and said, “Nothing. It’s OK. We’ll just send this tire back.” I could have kissed him.
Now I am a wiser and somewhat chagrined woman who has lots of sympathy for people who don’t know everyday things.