$500

“I need $500.”

Good Man slowly turns to look at me. “Why?”

“I had to do emissions—pollution—testing and a safety inspection before I can get my car registered here. I passed emissions, which is great, but I need to replace a cracked taillight and three tires because they’re in really bad shape.” I had suspected the tires would be a problem. I had completely forgotten I’d backed into a trailer classroom at my first school in Atlanta, cracking a taillight. “And I need an oil change.”

“OK. But America is complicated,” Good Man replies.

***

The mechanics at the garage I use (across the street from my school—drop off in the morning, pick up after work, could it be any more convenient?) are friendly guys who don’t talk down to me. They came recommended from a bunch of staff at my new job.

When I went to pick up my car, I was told they couldn’t get my spare out to use it as the fourth tire. I knew Mom had shown me how to do this… I hunted around for the spare lock key, and found it in the glove compartment. Because I am not in the habit of releasing the spare, the lock was jammed with dirt. After spraying some WD-40 and hitting the key end with a mallet, the lock came loose.

My mechanic then asked me for that jack thing to lower it. He lifted up my hood, pointed to the metal rod that props the hood open. “It looks a little like this.”

“Oh! I think it’s behind the seat.” Indeed, it was. Mom did a good job of telling me how to change a tire, but I’ve never had to do it before.

The mechanic then showed me how to change a spare tire. Seeing is a lot different than hearing.

I hope I never have to change a tire myself, but it’s nice to have a refresher on how to do it. And I’m glad that spare lock was unjammed…