This post was published more than a few years ago (on 2003-07-03) and may contain inaccurate technical information, outmoded thoughts, or cringe takes. Proceed at your own risk.

So, I was trolling around late last night, looking for a local grocery store that was open 24 hours, only after a thorough survey of all of them within a 5 mile radius (well... okey, maybe not that thorough), I discovered that they all closed by like 11pm or midnight, and this was about 1am.

So, as I rolled past the door of the last store on my mental list, looking for a sign with the hours, and looking the the windows for a sign of life, I turned my car back through the parking lot to make my way home.

Only problem is, I didn't turn my head...

When I finally did, I was bearing down on one of those little parking lot endcaps with the concrete curbs. I really wasn't going that fast, and the silly thing is, I really could have stopped. Instead, I turned my steering wheel hard right, thinking I would clear the curb... and I almost did, too. But then, I didn't.

I clipped the curb with a nice little bang, and I started hearing a light hissing sound. Usually, hissing sounds are not indicative of a blessed event when it comes to cars, and this was no exception. I had pinched the sidewall of the tire as I came across the curb, and made a nice little hole in it.

Luckily there was a gas station with an air pump, just across the parking lot from the Giant. I limped over and futilely tried to re-inflate my tire. I got out a bottle of green sealant goo from the trunk, and tried to pour that into the tire, I reinflated, rolled around the parking lot for a minute, hoping the sealant would catch. No dice. Back to the air pump. More goo. More air. More rolling around. More flatness. Rinse. Repeat. Wipe hands on pants.

Then, and only then, did I recall that I possibly... quite probably, in fact, had a spare. I rolled over to a well-lit segment of the parking lot, and carted crap out of the trunk until I could rip out the Velcro™ed carpet, and get to what lay underneath. Not a glorious full-size spare tire, like I was spoiled by when I owned a Chevy S-10, but a little donut-like wheelie thingie that looked almost like a tire, but not quite.

It would do.

I spent probably about the next hour kneeling in the rain, going through the ancient tire-replacement ritual practiced by men as far back as the stone age. It wasn't pleasant, but it's wasn't so much painful either. I'll have to hand it to the good people at Saturn for creating easy-to-use tools for such an occassion, and packing them so deftly in such a small space.

Although, the small space issue came to be more apparent when I went to put my now-dismounted full-size wheel somewhere safe. It kind of fit in the trunk, toed into the area where the spare once was, but not quite fitting entirely. Still, the donut-shaped depression did create room enough for me to fit my car junk back into the trunk— aside from one box full of car-related lotions and unguents which took the prized passenger seat on the return trip home.

All in all, it's as much as an adventure as I've had this year, and not one I look forward to again with longing glances, but pretty untraumatic just the same.

Aside from the look on the boss' face when I stumbled into work at 10:30 after only 5 hours sleep. That was traumatic enough.