The simple solution, though it may appear to take longer than those labor-saving devices, is often actually faster.

The tire on my sensibly-purchased reliable sedan was looking a bit low so I thought I ought to top it off with some air. I’d left a well-made floor, hand pump designed for bicycle tires in my parent’s garage last spring after I sold my previous car. So I went looking for the pump. It is all metal with a large, accurate pressure gauge at the bottom that makes it easy to quickly and precisely fill a tire. It takes about 100 or 200 strokes to get a low car tire at 20 psi up to the required 32 psi. Not too much work, takes only a few minutes.

Well, I went looking for the pump high and low and could not find it. My father is a great, moral man who has accomplished a lot but only in spite of his organizational skills, not because of them. If you need a screwdriver to fix something in his house you need to set aside a good 25 minutes to get it done; 5 minutes to fix the problem and 20 to find the screwdriver. First you check the junk drawer in the kitchen, then the various hutches in the hallways filled with miscellaneous items, then the garage and its various cabinets, then the basement where the toolbox is located (it’s almost never in the tool box though), and finally out to the shed in the backyard. If you’re lucky, it will be in one of those spots.

Well I could not find my pump anywhere. Perhaps someone has borrowed it or some such. Anyway, my mother helpfully asked, “Why don’t you just use our electric pump? It will be faster than doing it by hand.” I told her because it’s noisy, slow, and requires me to idle my car in order to use the cigarette lighter to power the thing. Though, since I couldn’t find my manual pump, I had to resort to the electric anyway.

So instead of simply attaching a hand pump to the tire and pumping it up with a few minutes of brisk strokes I had to find the keys to my brother’s car where the pump was located. That required rummaging through various drawers. Then when I had the pump in position it turns out the cigarette adapter in my car, which I’ve never used, doesn’t work. So then I tried to use my brother’s car to power the pump. He’s off at college and decided to leave his car at my parent’s house. Well, his car battery was dead. So then I had to get the keys to my mother’s shiny new car and pull it right up next to my car in order to power the pump to top off my tire. If I’d had the hand pump I would have checked the pressure in all the tires but with the electric pump that would have required moving my mother’s car at least twice in order to reach all the tires so I didn’t bother.

So much for the labor-saving electric pump designed to make life easier.

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