Winter. Pressure.

When the cold of winter finally snaps here in Minnesota, many motorists will find that their vehicles’ tires are in need of a little pumping up. I happen to be driving a recent-model SUV, that conveniently informs me when any of my tires take a little dip in air pressure.

That’s where the convenience ends, however.

Finding an air hose is the tricky part. At least, if you want free air. There are many gas stations, but only a few of them offer their air hoses at no charge. My rear passenger side tire was at 27, and it needs to be at 28 or higher, so I wasn’t about to pay $1.50 for about 20-30 seconds worth of air. I didn’t have six quarters on me, anyway. So I went in search of a Holiday station, and some free air.

The first one I stopped at had a free air hose, but someone was using it. Fine, I’m not the only person in MN who doesn’t wanna pay for air; I can wait over here next to the gas pumps. But then the guy using it opened up his hood and his trunk, and I frowned a little bit at that, but figured, heck, how much longer could he be? While I was waiting for this guy to finish doing whatever he was doing, a car pulled in front of me. I thought they were waiting for the gas pump next to me to open up. But then, a woman got out, popped her hood and went to the trunk for jumper cables. Too much going on at this station; I’ll try the next nearest Holiday down the road.

At the next Holiday, there was no one at the air hose. I would’ve loved to pull in there and pump up, but there were no less than four cars blocking the only road into the parking lot. Two cars have had a minor fender bender, and the drivers decided they have to get out and talk about it right there in the road, instead of pulling over. In front of them is a pickup truck that couldn’t seem to get up the small incline turning the corner, because its wheels were just spinning away on the ice. Nice.

I pulled into the parking lot of the next nearest Holiday station, right up to the air hose. Every Holiday has a big sign directly above the hose that reads “FREE AIR.” The sign at this station had a piece of paper taped over the sign. I had to wait until the wind stopped blowing to read the piece of paper. It read, of course, “Out Of Order.” Back in the car.

I stopped at the 4th Holiday on the way to my home. There was a car parked in front of the air hose. They weren’t using the hose, the car was just parked there. I waited patiently behind this car until the driver was done talking, and ready to pull out. The reverse lights came on, but the car wasn’t moving. I figured maybe I was too close for their comfort, so I pulled over to the parking spaces on the side. The car backed out and I looked behind me to see if the area was clear for me to back out of the side space I was in, and nope, a car pulled into the lot and headed directly for the space in front of the hose. And this guy has to put air in all four of his tires.

While I’m waiting, I saw that the space next to this guy opened up. I pulled around and set myself up to back into that space. Another car came in and headed in my direction. I was blocking the gas pumps, and figured this driver needed to get to one of them. I pulled out of the way of the pumps, and the car that I thought wanted gas pulled right into the space that I was about to back into.

Four tires guy finally finished and pulled out, and I finally finally pulled into the space right in front of the hose, after almost running into yet another car that wants some free air. After playing musical parking spots for the better part of a half hour, I got my 30 seconds of air, my TPMS sensor turned off, and I’m ready to go home. I pulled out of the parking lot and drove to the corner. I looked back at the parking area, and guess who’s parked in front of the air hose? And guess who’s waiting to use the air hose?



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