Like that headline? Do you feel like you’re reading Buzzfeed? Would you rather be reading Buzzfeed? Okay, don’t answer that one.


Yeah, I’m gonna need those TPS reports…

Yesterday, the tire pressure warning light came on in my car. (I learned after an hour of internet searching it is abbreviated as the TPWS. Now we know. Now we can sound cool on the auto repair message boards. Of which there are many. Trust me.) “Check Left Front Tire Pressure” is what the dashboard said. So I checked the pressure. It seemed a little low so I put in some air. The light didn’t go off. I checked the pressure again. Still okay. The light still didn’t go off. So, you know, not okay.

Today I went to my local tire store. A pleasant young man greeted me when I walked in. I told him my story and he said he’d take a look. I pulled into the bay and he checked every tire.


“The back left one was kinda low. But I put some air in. They are all evened out now. Should be fine.”

“But the light! The light! It won’t go out.” I said, sounding like Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight.Gaslight-14

“It will now.” He had a Ron Swanson confidence that I thought might be premature.

“But yesterday…It didn’t go out.”

“It will now.”

I cranked the car. No light. Problem solved, at least for now. Turns out when I had my tires rotated a month ago they didn’t reassign the TPWS sensors so when my car said “left front” it actually meant “left rear.” Who knew my car likes subtext?

With that, my own Ron Swanson charged me nothing and sent me on my way with just a friendly smile. (You’re right, we still don’t know WHY the tire was low in the first place, but that’s a problem for another day.)

On the way home I got to thinking about the value of having somewhere to go when I needed help with that tire. That thinking lead to this list, in no particular order, of random everyday things that are invaluable and important.

  1. A trustworthy auto mechanic/tire guy. Hopefully, you don’t need them a lot but when you do, you really need them. And you need to at least feel like you’re not getting ripped off. I remember a gotcha piece John Stossel did once on Dateline about a tire place in Cherry Hill, New Jersey that was charging for work they didn’t do. I thought of that piece EVERY TIME I drove by there. I also might have cursed at them in my head.
  2. A reliable alarm clock. It doesn’t have to be a clock. It can be a phone or an iPad or a rooster outside your window, but when you need to wake up at a certain time, the only way you’re going to get any sleep is if you are confident that your alarm will go off. I had someone who worked for me once whose father called him every morning to make sure he was awake for work. He was a twenty-six year old annoying spoiled brat with a law degree, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t have a system.
  3. Extra batteries. Don’t let the remote control die on your watch. (Probably best to include phone chargers here too.) Power to the people.
  4. Quarters. If you were like me, you spent a large part of your late teens and early
    This is what a pay phone looks like.

    This is what a pay phone looks like.

    twenties hoarding quarters like a doomsday-prepper squirrel. Without quarters there was no clean laundry. For a while, quarters are what it took to call from a pay phone. I no longer have to stock up for the Wash N Dry, but I try to always have quarters on me or in my car. You need them if you want to put air in the tires (see above) or use the vacuums at the car wash. You can buy a diet Coke from a machine if nothing is open and you can use them to pry open your waterproof phone case. You can even flip one to settle a dispute or a bar bet. Quarters? Good.

  5. A good quality jam. A song that you love SO MUCH RIGHT NOW and can listen to on heavy rotation. This song will change. It has to change. Today it might be All About That Bass or Barracuda or No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn. Tomorrow maybe its Wild Side or Jolene or Poker Face. Doesn’t matter. But its your go-to when you need a pick me up or a slow me down or just proof that somebody somewhere some time felt the way you’re feeling right now and wrote a song about it. Or just laid down some wicked beats. Whatever. Rock on, man. No shame in your game.

So…that’s my list. I hope this advice has been helpful. I hope you tuck a quarter or two somewhere in your car.

And me? I’m the one in the car next to you singing along to the radio.