Monday, October 4, 2010

Locked in nut

As an engineer, it is a general policy that I do not handle tools. There is a reason why tradespeople do what they do, and there is a reason why I just stand around looking useless, because if you give me a screwdriver I am still mostly useless.

On the October long weekend last year, my Girlfriend and I were planning on going out to Monarto Zoo just outside of Adelaide. We met at my place, we got in my car – which I had for only a year at that time – filled it up with petrol and checked the air pressure. After making sure everything was shipshape, we set off on our 45mins journey down the Prince Highway.

Upon leaving the petrol station, I was hearing an odd sound coming from the car. I pulled into another petrol station and evaluated the situation trying to look as masculine as I could. I had picked up a text screw in my right rear tire and I was about to get a flat. There was a long period of swearing. My Girlfriend pointed out the irony of only just checking the air pressure.

After seeing the screw, I started emptying the boot and reassured my girlfriend that we would still be on our way. I got out the spare, the jack, and the tools. Luckily I have had plenty of practice in changing tires on my older cars and there was no need to contact the RAA.

First I got the tire spanner out to loosen the wheel nuts. It did not fit. There was a long period of swearing. I put everything back into the boot, and I drove to the nearest auto part dealer that was open on a public holiday (luckily car lovers do not like to spend time relaxing on a day off).

I bought one of the T shaped multi-sized tire spanner thingy’s, and it was awesome. Four out of the five nuts did not stand a chance, but the fifth one put me on my back. I had not seen anything like it before. All of my previous cars were circa 1983-1992, all with stock wheels and one or two hub caps still attached.

The nut was not hexagonal like a normal nut is. It was round with two little pits. There was a long period of swearing. I stormed back inside the auto part shop.

“What the fuck is going on? What sort of piece of shit nut is this on my car?”

Doesn’t the T spanner fit sir?” asked the shop attendant professional enough to be oblivious to my swearing.

“It fit for most of them, all but fucking one. This piece of shit is not a normal nut, it has round fucking edges.”

“Do you have mags?” asked a customer, “it sounds like a lock nut.”

“What the fuck is a lock nut?”

“A lock nut is used to stop people from stealing your mags. Is this a new car?”

By now I was starting to realise that I am still useless. “Yeah, I’ve only had it for a year. First time I’ve had to change a tire for it though.”

“There should be an adaptor in either your glove box, or around where you spare tire is kept”. The customer looked at me with a questioned look. As if assessing if my reason were a valid one and he had not just busted me in an attempt to join the lucrative stock wheel theft market.

My ego burst and flew about the room like a deflating balloon. I thanked both the customer and the shop attendant, apologised for my language, and scurried out of the store.

Sure enough, there was an adaptor for the cursed lock nut. It came off easily. I changed the tire, the spare was a normal non-mag rim, and therefore I used the normal wheel nuts that were stored with the aforementioned cursed adaptor. I found them along with another adaptor that would have let me use my original wheel spanner fit the nuts on the mag. There was a long period of swearing.

We took my Girlfriend's car to the zoo. And she drove.

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