Thursday, October 29, 2015

Change a Tire and Learn a Thing or Two - (Mapping to Reflect and Learn)

I had a flat tire a few days ago.  Luckily, it happened (or at least I realized it) while the car was parked in my driveway.  That was convenient for a number of reasons:  1) I could go back inside the house and change into my "garden" clothes.  It turned out I also needed more sturdy shoes to get the lug nut wrench to do its job; 2) I could go back inside the house, turn on my computer and google a couple of videos on "how to change a tire?"  It's not that I had no clue about how to do it but since I'd never done it before, I thought it would be good to do it right and not improvise.  Of course, with my smartphone, I could have done this anywhere.  It was just more comfortable and less stressful to do it at home than it would have been on the side of a highway.

The car is more than 10 years old and as far as I know the donut tire has been used once before but I wasn't the one who changed it.  It did occur to me as I was struggling to unstuck the lug nuts that the replacement tire might not have enough pressure in it to take me anywhere.  My target destination was the gas station/car repair shop that is literally at the end of the street.  Their car repair folks had left for the day but at least I'd be able to get some air pressure into the donut.

I'd like to see a woman in heels try to replace a flat tire!  I had to go put on my extra sturdy hiking shoes to kick the wrench without hurting my foot.  I'm surprised I managed to do it.  I seriously doubted I could do it but I had to try.... and it worked.. with some effort.

It was the jack and attached lug nug wrench that gave me the most trouble.  First, dislodging the wrench from the jack wasn't obvious.  It required some thinking about how on earth the mechanism worked. Then the wrench wouldn't open up because it's only been used once in 10 years.  I ended up using a screwdriver as a lever and there was nothing to it.

What can or should I learn from this experience?

A self-confidence lesson:  Changing a tire isn't rocket science but if you've never done it before, it can be a little intimidating.  I decided I would try and success boosted my confidence.  I was able to figure how the whole thing, from taking out the flat tire, putting on the replacement tire, getting some air into it, and driving to a place that could either fix the flat tire or replace it. And it only took about 90 minutes for the whole thing.

Paying attention to warning signs:  I know why I ended up with a flat tire.  A week ago, I had a small collision, resulting in a misalignment of the front wheels.  Driving with the misaligned wheels essentially destroyed the front tires.  When I had the collision damage repaired and wheels realigned, I might have paid attention to the car repair folks' suggestion that I replace the tires.  I chose not to, probably because I didn't sufficiently understand the connection.  Had they shown me the tire damage, I would have considered the replacement more seriously.

Slow down the thinking:  When I couldn't figure out the jack and wrench for a couple of minutes, I didn't get frustrated.  I saw it as a challenge. It was obvious that there was nothing wrong with the jack and wrench and all I needed to do was figure out how they were supposed to be disconnected and then used properly.  Slowing down to just sit and observe the jack and wrench, identifying the moving parts and eventually the bulb lights up and it's obvious and pretty smart.

How often do we take the time to reflect upon simple experiences like this?  I'm not suggesting that we should sit down every night to document the lessons of the day, but there is definite value in taking the time to think it through.  It can be empowering!

Two days after drafting this post, I decided to see what it would look like as a map  (see below).  Can you tell from the map that I had more fun doing the map than writing the post?  After years of mapping, I think my brain prefers mapping to writing.

Click to enlarge.

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