It doesn’t take much to ruin my day. I worry about lots of things—too many things. If I knew how to stop, I would. I worry that all of this worrying is going to put me into an early grave and then I worry that I died of cancer or some other equally awful way to go.
Yesterday the indicator in my car started blinking. It was the one that tells you if you have a flat, and usually when it flickers on, it stays on. This time it blinked, just like a little round hazard light. Blinka-blinka, 5 seconds till your tires self destruct, it seemed to be saying. Blinka-blinka, too bad you were too cheap to replace those runflats with more runflats because you don’t even have a jack or a spare tire. Blinka-blinka, you’d better hope those two cans of fix-a-flat will be enough get you home.
I drove sensibly and took care whenever I went through one of those metal joints that connected two parts of the road. Stuck on the shoulder in 95 degree heat during rush hour is not one of the things I’m aiming to do before I die.
The car felt pretty normal—I wasn’t slowing down and feeling that bumping that comes with a flat tire. The car felt a little shaky, but maybe the alignment was off. I couldn’t hear the flapping of loose rubber or see the sparks of my rims against asphalt. I was okay, but in the corner of my eye, that blinking indicator was there, flashing on and off, reminding me that maybe I was wrong.
Of course this was a night when the traffic was moving like sludge. Damn it, I thought, I just want to get home and check the tires. Blinka-blinka, should have joined AAA, the light said.
I reached home, parked outside and pulled out the car's manual. From there I looked for information on the flat tire indicator. There was nothing about a blinking light. I followed the instructions and turned to the page for cars with conventional, non runflat tires. When I glanced at the diagrams showing the tire jack and the spare, I closed the book. Never mind.
I grabbed the tire pressure gauge from the glove compartment and checked the front tire—40 pounds of pressure—a little overinflated, but perhaps that was because I’d been driving and the temperature was warm. I checked the other three tires, deflated a couple until they were all at around the same pressure and replaced the valve caps. Then I got back in, turned the key and waited.
Four more turns of the key and it was still blinking.
I know, I thought, maybe if I start the car and roll it into the garage, the indicator will reset because once the tires start rotating, the car will figure out tire pressures have been evened out.
Start car, roll forward, put it in reverse, back in to park. Turn key.
I sighed, grabbed my stuff, closed the driver's side door and went inside.
The following morning, I returned to the car and just before I started the engine, I remembered. The light.
I pressed the reset button, just under the hand brake, and then the light stopped blinking and went solid. I pressed it again and the light went out. Thanks to Google, I was able to try out the solution I found online the night before. When it worked, I exhaled and turned up the stereo.
As I drove, I started thinking back to the day before, when I deflated the tires to even them out. You’re only supposed to check the tires when the car’s been still and the air inside the tires is still cold. I had done just the opposite the day before. All of it was hot—the rims, the rubber, the air—all hot!
Uh-oh. What if I overdeflated? What if the air in the tires cooled down and the tire pressure was now too low? The idea has been popping into my head regularly. Just like the little indicator light, major and minor worries flicker through my mind all day until I resolve the issues, get over them or fall asleep.
Blinka-blinka. Did you pay your credit card bill yet? Blinka-blinka, are we out of orange juice? Blinka-blinka, do you have clean underwear for tomorrow?
Maybe Google can help.