blow out

Having little money I made the decision to stay "local" for golden week and see a little more of Kyushu over the option of photographing an exotic land. I was lucky enough to have a fellow kiwi ALT from Hiroshima-ken visit for a few days, plus there were a few fellow 'takeo-crewers' who also had no plans and would not be travelling to foreign lands to spread their wealth with the locals.

For Golden Week we decided to go on a road trip to Kumamoto to check things out and see how they roll in that hood. Now, at this point I should probably make note that I recently became a joint owner of my first ever car. Very exciting moment I can tell you! It was so recent in fact that the insurance only kicked in on the Golden week Monday thus making the Thursday trip very much a first road trip in the newly named "Battleaxe" car.

We loaded the beast and set off on our merry way. The sun was shining and the day was hot and life was good. That is...for the first five minutes.

"Gus, umm... I don't seem to be able to get the window up..." came a call from Maurice.
"No worries..." who needs a window in this heat anyway?!...

Five minutes later, ten minutes outside of Takeo, on the express way....

*thug, thug, thug, thug...* Everyone started looking at each other with confused faces.
Being the driver I quickly checked to make sure I was in fact in the middle of the lane and not driving over cat's-eyes in a sunny day dream... No, I was definitely driving as I should be...
And that's when realisation dawned on all of us in unison "Flat tyre!"

I proceeded to do what anyone does in this situation, pull straight over and hit the blinkers. We were very fortunate to have been in the left hand lane already and were passing a slow traffic lane which we quickly occupied.

Now, this was my first ever flat tire and lets just say while obviously we we in the midst of a slight set back the grins across our faces could not be avioided. This was a challange... a chance to prove our "manliness" to all who pass us on the express way.... a story to be told (haha... like now!)... a way to woo our respective ladies with tales of our mechanical glory achieved by our being "real men". Now I understand that some of you may be comfortable with your "manliness" and may not find changing a tire such a big deal... but fuck, when you're 186cm and weigh 69kg's (on a good day!) you quickly become proud of any moment when "manliness" is bestowed upon you by others!!

Things however, did not go quite as planned...

We did the right thing and quickly proceeded to clear the boot/trunk of our roadtrip possesions... a frisbee... some tennis racquets and balls... a few bags etc etc... Next up we checked for the spare tire and were rewarded with a rather small, but inflated at least, baby of a thing. Next we found the tools we would need to change the tire and set about the job at hand.

I should say at this point that Jamie and Maurice really took charge from here... they had done this before, and added to the fact they are simply bigger and better equiped to changing a tire than either Byron or myself. I quickly took up position of chief photographer instead :-).

The guys laid out all the tools and before someone could say "...the aristocrats?" the tire iron was knocked through a crack and down the gutter!! "Fuck!" Lucky for us, I have girly forearms and was able to squeeze one through and retrieve the vital tool. In the process though I removed my watch and forget to pick it up :-(

Once we had all the tools back in place Jamie and Maurice set about getting off the wheel. Oh,.. wait.. not without first needing a group discussion about which way a nut should be turned to loosen it! ... Righty tighty, lefty loosey of course won the argument.

Five minutes later and we were really wondering how the fuck we were going to get the second two nuts off. Jamie and Maurice had alternated heaving and struggling to get off the first two nuts and the remaining two were simply not budging. The car was virtually being lifted from the ground but the nut was standing its ground. Some carefully sprayed CC's was having little effect too. We were basically out of ideas when from no where a cop car pulled up!!

This was the first time in the past six or so years when I have actually been happy to see traffic police approaching! They quickly made it clear they were not here for a chit-chat though, and went about their business in short grunt type sounds with very staunch faces.

Having bleed all our ideas dry on how to get the wheel off we informed them of our plight only to be met with what will go down with all of us as the biggest rookie mistake ever. We were trying desperately to lift the spanner and in turn cause it to move in and anticlockwise motion like a clock moving from 12:15 back up to 12:00. We didn't even think to turn the spanner thing around and turn from a 12:45 motion to 12:30!! The cop spun the spanner round and simply stood on it and instanly it gave way under his weight and started to turn!

Feeling like the biggest tools ever, things then went from relative embarrassment to full on when trying to get the jack to wind up, and going about it painfully slowly, wondering "what the fuck is up with Japanese Jacks?... it's definitely not the most effective set up ever!..." the second cop jumped in, took five seconds to realign the tools we had to set the thing up properly and started turning it with such ease it was sickening. Score two to the cops. Wankers...

I'm happy to report we did manage to put the spare on with no major dramas. However, to conclude events we all quickly broke out in red faces when in front of the cops as we were packing things up we heard the sound "Clink..." and for a second time the spanner was knocked down the gap!! Only this time it was unsaveable. The cops just looked at us like we were the biggest retards ever, which it turns out we just happen to be.

Needless to say, I know have the a great deal of respect for pit crew staff! It's definitley not as easy as it sounds... Bloody legends.

Oh and for your information the car was renamed once we were back on the road. "Battleaxe" gave way for a more suited "blowout"!