Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Confining Air under Pressure, Part II

The recent day-long adventure in repairing a flat tire on my power wheelchair brought up memories of other tire-ing episodes.

My first power chair had a large diameter tire on the rear. In fact, it was the same diameter and width of a standard adult-size bicycle tire, 26 inches in diameter, as I recall. The first flat I experienced came with a report that sounded like a shotgun blast, and that occurred while I sat at my desk at work in a radio station, diligently typing away at news or commercials. People came running from around the building, thinking the building had been invaded by a nut case. An hour and a new bicycle tire got me rolling again.

Most flats are not so dramatic. Most are you wake up in the morning, look at the chair, and think Oh, geez .., which means a few extra hours in the shower/commode chair while some kind soul dismounts the tire and repairs or replaces it.

I have a bad habit of letting the pneumatic tires drain air. Once when I was rolling through Sears with my brother, he noticed the rear wheelchair tires were quite low. We happened to be near the auto service center.

"Is there someone who can put a little air in my tires," I asked the clerk. "I'd be glad to pay."

"No," came the reply. "Our insurance won't allow that."

"How about letting me roll back there, my brother can put the air in?"

"No, no.  We can't be responsible for a wheelchair."

There are, however, occasions of Hey, there are people out there in the world who get it without being told. 

My family long did business with a fellow aptly named Carr who owned a combination service station, auto repair center, convenience store, and deli. One day at work, I looked down to see a huge bubble on the side of a wheelchair tire. The carcass had grown so worn that it had split and the tube was bubbling through. I signed out of my office and made the antsy five-or-six block journey via the limping wheelchair from my office to the Carr shop.

"Hey, Jim," I asked when I saw him standing near a service bay, "do you think a lawn mower tire would fit on this?"

Our friend looked at the bubble, and then at the tire dimensions, and said, "Yeah, and I think we have one."

He looked up and saw one of his workers and called out "Wally, get a 3.25 by 4 lawnmower tire and put it on here."

"Can't right now, boss," came the reply, "I'm supposed to finish up with Robbie. Have him leave it, and I'll get it first thing in the morning."

"Leave Robbie 'til later," said Jim. "Can't you see that this is how Gary gets around? That tire is as important to him as your shoes are to you."

That was one flat tire that didn't frustrate me. Well, it did, but only until I went to Jim Carr for help.

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