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How many journalists does it take to change a tire?

Fixing a flat tire is a rite of passage — even for journalists just trying to get some Skyline Chili.
Fixing a flat tire is a rite of passage — even for journalists just trying to get some Skyline Chili.

Cars are a lot like people: I don’t really understand them.

When things are going fine with my car, it’s easy to coast along and tell myself I’m doing a good job, even if I’m not quite sure what’s going on under the hood. In fact, I like driving, and do it enough that I feel comfortable driving in pretty much any condition.

But when any problems arise, that comfort flies out the window.

That’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago as Opinion Editor Devin Ankeney, Digital Managing Editor Luke Macy, and I left the newsroom to indulge in our favorite Ohio delight — Skyline Chili.

I volunteered to drive, so we piled into my 2002 Honda Accord, and I started navigating toward Uptown.

As I drove, I could tell something felt off about my car, but I didn’t know what. None of my dash lights were on, so I wrote it off as the roads just being a little rough.

We pulled up to a stop sign, and a couple walking by turned and looked at my car. One of them pointed at the tires, and it quickly became apparent where the problem was. Sure enough, when we parked and I investigated further, my back-passenger tire was completely flat.

So, to deal with this problem, we walked away and went to get food.

As I sat in the restaurant, I tried to think through all the possible solutions. I could call a tow truck, but it was a Sunday evening and most places would be closed. I could drive it to a mechanic to be fixed the next day, but I wanted to avoid driving on the flat tire as much as possible. I could change it out for my spare, but I had no idea how to do that.

The last time I needed to change a tire, someone who knew what they were doing helped me through the entire process. That was about two years ago, and by this point, I had forgotten much of what to do.

Like I said, I understand cars as much as I understand people, so I was surprised when Devin and Luke volunteered to help me change the tire.

For much of my life, I have felt like a burden on the people around me. I have trouble asking for help because I don’t want to bring any more stress than someone is already dealing with. Plus, that night was the perfect excuse for an understandable decline; it was cold, dark, raining, and they had already made plans to binge a short series prior to getting dinner.

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And yet despite all this, they still offered to help me.

Once we wrapped up eating, we went back to the car and began the lengthy process of trying to figure out how to replace the tire. After an hour of sorting through tools, fumbling through the car’s user manual and raising the car … then lowering it … then raising it again, the spare was attached and the flat tossed in the trunk.

Photo by Luke Macy | The Miami Student
It took three journalists and more than an hour to fix a tire.

Despite the labor-intensive job that none of us really knew how to do correctly, plus the added environmental pressures, everyone managed to keep their spirits high. Devin and Luke were constantly cracking jokes, singing, playing music and just generally making the hour fly by.

It wasn’t until I finally arrived home that it sunk in what the whole evening had meant to me.

My friends had, without flaking or complaining, helped me change a tire in the dark, cold rain.

As much as I care about my friends, I also always worry that I’m on the periphery of our friendship, that I’m disposable. Having experienced what it’s like to be left out of things constantly in previous friend groups, or having people drop plans or never show up, I’m often on guard and ready for it to happen again.

When I needed them most, Devin and Luke stepped up and helped me out. I’m not sure I could ask for better friends than that.

While my tire may be patched back up and (hopefully) won’t give me any problems in the near future, if it does I hope Devin and Luke are with me. Maybe this time it’ll take us less than 30 minutes to remember the car comes with a user manual.

Reece Hollowell is a senior double-majoring in journalism and professional writing from Oxford, Ohio. He has been with The Student for almost two years, and is currently the Entertainment Editor and Audio Editor.