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What A Bloody Nuisance

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: dmitrineilovich | March 30, 2023

This was many years ago, but it sticks in my mind to this day. I was a contracted service provider (tow truck driver) for a major roadside assistance/travel organization, though the company I worked for was quite small.

I had been sent to a lakeside neighborhood in my popular northwest city, a neighborhood full of hip restaurants and cutesy boutiques, to change a tire on a new BMW. (This was back when all cars had a spare tire, which should tell you how long ago this was.) I had my own tools, but for the new BMWs, it was always recommended to use the tools that came with the car since they were less likely to cause damage. I had no problem with that since the jack that came with the car was quite easy to use. It had a crank instead of a jack handle.

The only issue was that there needed to be enough clearance between the jack and any nearby immovable objects, such as, say, a curb. This particular vehicle was parked VERY close to the curb. My standard operating procedure is to ask the customer to slowly move the car away from the curb to avoid damage to the rim of the flat tire. No one has an issue with this. Normally.

The chucklehead owner of the vehicle refused to move it.

Owner: “It’ll ruin my tire!”

Me: “If you move it slowly, it won’t damage anything.”

He wasn’t buying it.

Me: “The tire is already flat and likely needs to be replaced anyway, so it’s no problem.”

Owner: *Screeching* “Get on with it and change the tire! I have places to be!”

I got to it, wanting to be clear of this chump as quickly as possible.

This car’s jack had a very low gear ratio, requiring several turns to lift the car even an inch. But the force required to turn the crank was not excessive, enabling the user to quickly turn the crank until the car was raised sufficiently. The issue with the car being too close to the curb is that while the jack’s crank had a hinge to fold it compactly when stored, the crank had to be unfolded completely to provide adequate leverage to turn and lift the car. But with it so close to the curb, the bottom of the arc of the crank’s movement caused the handle to just barely clear the curb. The only problem was that I was holding the crank as it came around to the curb, and there was not enough room between the crank handle and the curb for my fat fingers.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I did accidentally skin two knuckles down to the bone — with the scars still present to this day — and yes, I did use some colorful, unprofessional language. Captain Chucklehead heard this and smugly announced that he was going to report my horrifying language and get me fired. He then reiterated his desire for me to get the lead out and finish changing the tire.

Oh, really?

See, my first aid kit was back in the truck, several dozen yards away. Well, since I didn’t want to delay this person’s day any longer than absolutely necessary, I just continued to change the tire, splattering crimson jewels of blood on the rim of the flat, on the spare, on the jack, on the lug wrench, and on the fender. I made sure not to waste a single cell on the ground. I even managed to get a nice, fat, drippy drop on the window. His face went pale as he saw the biohazard scene unfolding all over his precious car. I even made him sign the form with a blood-smeared pen, though I gave him the opportunity to get his own.

After he nearly caused an accident leaving the parking space — probably on his way to the car wash — I was then able to tend to my poor, abused knuckles and get ready for whatever else the day would bring. I never heard a single squawk from my boss, or from corporate.

I probably should’ve just driven away. This incident happened early in my career as a roadside assistance service provider, and I learned very quickly not to allow myself (or allow others to put me) in situations where my safety or health was in jeopardy. My boss (and corporate) would completely have had my back in these kinds of situations.

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