The van that I drive for my dad’s business is a decent ride. It’s got a lot of pickup and the braking is good and it isn’t difficult to control, so I can’t complain about it much. But I keep flattening the rear driver’s side tire. 4 times in 6 months! The first time was totally my fault. I rubbed the tire on a curb while making a tight turn. I’ve done this many times in many cars, and when I did it last spring, my time was due—I ripped the side-wall of the tire. Fine. But then I discovered a funny little thing about the rear driver’s side tire. When I put the jack in the recommended place, I lifted the entire van, but the tire stayed put. The strut wouldn’t lift. So I jacked it up higher, and higher until the strut reached its maximum stretch and began to lift up, too. I swear the front tire on the same side was lifted off the ground. The 3 ton van was being held up by a tiny jack and the passenger side tires. The spare tire barely fit in place, but I dared not raise the van up more. It was ridiculous. I hoped never to have to change that tire again, but the night that I got the new tire put on (okay, new used tire), all the air leaked out of it. The next day, I cursed to the heavens, got in the van, and, yes, drove the van on the flat tire to the nearest tire place. It wasn’t far, but it was a real risk. The tire wasn’t that mangled, though, and it was repaired in minutes. But not repaired well. There was a slow leak in it. I wasn’t really surprised at this, since I didn’t treat it at all well. So I kept filling it up with air every week, telling myself that I should just get a new one, until I ran over a pothole in early September, and Blammo! there went the tire. O accursed tire! Why dost thou trouble me so? Well, I had to stick the spare on, this time. There was just no way to get it to a tire place. I thought back to the first attempt at changing the tire, and attempted to put my dinky jack (no jokes!) on the strut, but it just wouldn’t fit. I had to get my father’s bottle jack to do the job right. So again, the spare and another trip to a tire place. Each time I had to change a tire, and other tires went flat, just not with the same frequency as the rear driver’s side, I told myself, I’ve got to get one of those X-shaped tire-irons, because each time I had to change a tire that the tire guys replaced, the nuts were put on too tightly with their pneumatic drills. I would watch these guys tighten them, and then hammer them in for another 3 or 4 bursts and think, “Great, but where will you be when I have to put the damned spare on?” And I would also think that I wanted one of those cool hydraulic floor jacks that quickly lifted the van up. Ah, to dream. So tonight, with a couple of flat tire free months behind me, the first thing that I thought when I hit another pothole is, “What’s that hissing sound?” And then, “It better not be that same stupid, fucking tire!” which, of course, it was. A gas station just up the block would be my base of operations for the next two and-a-half hours. First off, I could not get the lug nuts off with the standard issue tire iron. I wrenched and torqued and struggled for naught. I tried pipe wrenches and ratchet wrenches, and nothing worked. I had to call Katherine to rescue me with an X-shaped tire iron. Blessed be to the inventor, Saint X-shaped Tire Iron Guy. I still had to struggle to get those damned lug nuts off, but I did, with the right tool. But then, my job was only partial finished. I still had to get the tire off the ground. And I tried to sneak the dinky jack under the strut, which was totally out of reach, and nearly lost my hand when the jack shot out from beneath the van. Luckily, the tire was still on. But enough was enough. I stopped everything, went to Sears, and gots myself a hydraulic jack. Yeah. In minutes, the job was over. As Katherine said, “With that jack you can do this in just a half-an-hour, instead of just over two!” True, indeed. So, now seriously, if anyone needs a good jack, let me know. That thing was expensive as hell, and if I don’t put it to use, it’ll just be a waste, because, dammit, I ain’t gonna be poppin’ no more goldurn tires! Sheesh.