I retired a tyre recently. Apparently one of my over-inflated car tyres was about to explode when I arrived at the mechanic's workshop on Wednesday. I had figured something wasn't right while driving my son to his gymnastic camp that morning.
The car ride was unusually bumpy. If we were on a comic strip, my car would be going, "boing, boing boing." While driving, it occurred to me that I might be driving with a flat tyre. However, when I made a stop at a petrol station, all four tyres appeared to be in good shape, or so I thought.
So I concluded that it could be the engine that was causing the problem and took a slow drive to my destination. I then waited for the early morning traffic to ease before making my way to my regular car workshop. Thankfully, it was nearby.
There, I handed over my keys to a young mechanic, not my usual guy. The young chap was fiddling with a Samsung Note when I arrived. After listening to my explanation, he took my car for a drive and subsequently inspected the engine.
I watched closely as he dismantled and carefully cleaned a couple of components. After putting the parts back to their respective places, he declared the engine fine. Just to be sure, he took my car for a second drive with his colleague. Upon his return, he advised me to take my car to a tyre shop, a few doors away. It turned out, one of my tyres was ready to burst.
The mechanic didn't charge me for his service. He said I didn't need to pay as he didn't have to fix anything. It took a while for me to let what he said sink in, as I am so conditioned to paying for things and services even when I received crappy ones.
At the tyre shop, the mechanic who attended to me asked when I last inflated my tyres. He said they were bloated and the pressure was too high. "Kak you punya pressure, sama dengan tayar lori punya," he said.
I almost burst out laughing but held back when I saw his face. He proceeded to ask me about the pressure I put in my tyres. By now I realised it was no laughing matter. I could have been in serious trouble that morning.
When it comes to tyre pressure, I am completely clueless. I tried to explain to the mechanic that I pumped my tyres because they looked like they could use some air. In my defence, I genuinely thought the air pump gauge at the petrol station was not working properly and therefore ignored the reading.
Until that day, I had no idea that there were two different units for measuring pressure, being kpa and psi. I am familiar with kpa but not psi.
I swear I saw the mechanic shudder at my explanation. He told me that over-inflated tyres could cause a car to go out of alignment and went ahead to explain how.
I tried really hard to comprehend what he was saying. I guess he must have noticed the blank look on my face when he let out a sigh and said, "Aiyah Kak, saya ingat you tak faham lah."
Some things fail to make sense to me no matter how hard I try. I am afraid car related matters are among them. Plus, there are certain things I don't really want to know. Though I appreciate the mechanic's efforts in trying to educate me, I think I prefer to keep my life simple by leaving certain things to the experts.
For a brief moment, there was an awkward silence between the mechanic and I. At that point, I think we both realised that we were not on the same wave length. If we were TV channels I would think he's from history channel and I, food network. With that thought in mind, I blurted out, "I am starving. Is there anything I can eat around here?"
To my surprise, he offered to drive me to a nearby stall and pick me up when I was done. I told him I could just walk there but he said the street wasn't safe for pedestrians.
Later, after fixing my tyre and car alignment, the mechanic sent me home with a recommendation that I never pump my own tyres. He asked me to drive over to his workshop whenever I thought my tyres needed some air.
My day unfolded in the most unexpected way that day. I found kindness in an unlikely place. I say unlikely because I've had several bad experiences with car mechanics. And maybe, just maybe, I'll stay away from air pumps for a while.
> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.