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Letting the Air Out

     I threw off the covers, leapt out of bed, brushed my teeth and threw my clothes on; skipped the shower and exercises. A glance at the digital clock on my Bose radio—I could make it!

     It was Sunday so Christy was home to help Paul if he needed it. As I rushed to the door, I told them I was going out for breakfast and I’d be back by nine-thirty, in time for Christy to get Rocco, her little Shih Tzu, to Petco for his ten o’clock grooming appointment.

     The morning air was fresh with the aroma of rosemary; my beloved Mazda6 was damp with dew from the night before. I swiped the windshield clear and backed out of the driveway. If I got there early enough, my niece Kathy would still be there. Otherwise I’d eat solo, with my Kindle for company. I turned my Mazda out onto the street and was halfway to the corner when -  

     BEEEEP!!!—I jumped out of my seat! The beep seemed to come from the dash so I looked for anything unusual there. No-o-o. Yes. The pale orange U-shaped icon grinned at me. I knew that face all too well: low tire pressure. So much for breakfast with Kathy. I turned around and pulled back into the driveway. The tires looked pretty much the same as usual so I poked each one a couple of times. Maybe the right front?

     Christy came outside and looked at the tires, too. Since they looked fairly normal, she said it must be a slow leak; I should just go to the gas station on the corner, fill it up with air and go on to breakfast.

     At the station I pressed the numbers for the code to activate the air pump. I stuck the hose connector onto the valve stem of the right front tire and checked the pressure gauge when it popped out of its sleeve. Definitely low pressure. I pressed the lever and held it, seemed like forever, but the tire wasn’t getting any fatter. I let go and pressed again. This time the air whooshed out. I kept pressing and un-pressing but nothing changed. Same thing happened on the other front tire, which also showed low pressure. Was I putting air in—or letting it out? I gave up.

     When I got home, with grimy gas station hands, the front tire was totally flat. I washed my hands and texted my two sons. “Got a flat tire. Can either of you help?” They replied instantly: “I thought you had Triple A, Mom.” Thanks, Bryan. Thanks, Craig. What I didn’t tell them is that I was too embarrassed to call Triple A. I’d called them four times in the last three months.

     The Triple A guy was tactful; he never mentioned my recent frequent flyer use of their services, but then, as I handed him my membership card, “13 YEAR MEMBER” stamped on the card in gold letters caught my eye.

     Not bad. In thirteen years, I’d only used my card five times.

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