It’s textbook – you’re running late, you have about 67 shopping bags in the boot of your car, you’ve decide to wear your new suede shoes, and then it happens – your steering wheel takes on a life of its own. After a five minute-long WTF reaction you finally stop denying the truth. You know exactly what’s going on.
It’s a puncture and you know it is. You also know what comes next. Here it is:
1. That creeping fear that you’ve done much worse damage than you actually have
As you drive on your flat tyre towards a free parking spot (sure), the noise and vibration beneath you sounds like a giant concrete mixer crushing a thousand bones.
The wheel has actually fucking come off, you think to yourself in despair. Then as you emerge in a blind panic to check out the damage, you can barely make out which the problem tyre is.
2. The DIY method
You’ve made the decision – I can do this. It’s just a tyre change, a child could do it. If their parents’ were really mean and lazy. All I need is the wheel, the jack, and the turny-thingy. Simple.
Three hours later you’re chanting ‘right-tighty-lefty-loosey’ to yourself like an insane person, you’ve caught pneumonia, as there’s a fire burning in your legs from being kokka for all that time.
3. The FTS method
As if I’m going to waste three hours of my life trying to change this puncture myself. I’m just going to call road-side assistance. But wait – am I a member of any of roadside assistance companies? My insurers would know. I’ll call them.
Twenty customer care minutes later you’ve been informed of your membership number – which is just your license plate number. You call. You try to explain where you are. You hang up after being shouted at for not knowing the right landmarks and wait “mill-inqas għoxrin minuta”.
4. The awkward exchange with the roadside guy
As you greet the man about to perform a task which you are more than able to perform, in the rain, you wonder whether you should attempt small talk or not. The moment you open your mouth to ask about his day, he turns around and mumbles “lest ta'”.
The realisation that you are the most pathetic human on the planet sinks in as your €2 tip turns into €5 and you bid the tow-truck goodbye.
5. The aftermath
With a sigh of relief you assure yourself that “that wasn’t too bad”, and get back in your car to drive home. Then you realise – there’s still one stage left: repairing the fucking tyre.
6. The bill
Your feet are wet, your shoes are ruined and your shopping has fallen out all over your car from being removed from your boot to retrieve your spare tyre. It’s okay, there’s a mere ten minutes before the tyre man gives you back your wheel and this whole nightmare ends.
Not without the bill though. “€80 jekk jogħġbok.”