Bicycle Tire

Around 1979-1980 I worked at a gas station. A little old lady, late twenties – early thirties (I was 20 at the time), was having difficulty filling her bike tire with the correct air pressure. I took one look and immediately knew what the problem was and how to fix it.
“Leave this to me” I may have said.

I saw that she hadn’t correctly attached the pump and had set the pressure to be too low. I changed the pump from 35 to 120 and correctly attached it to the valve.

Within seconds I heard a loud bang at my right ear. I stood up and wobbled away (damn, it was loud) and tried to make sense of what had happened.

My ear had been 4 inches away from the tire when it exploded. Despite my brilliant diagnosis, this tire’s recommended air pressure was 35 and not 120 like all other bike tires that I had seen. When I expressed doubts about this, my coworkers pointed to the ’35’ written in large friendly numerals on the side of the tire.

While the young lady wanted to have her tire fixed, she didn’t want it taken out of the hide of the arrogant young idiot who’d wrecked it.

Luckily, fixing tires is something that the gas station could do and the tire was fixed for free. We even set it to the correct air pressure.

I like to think that I learned something about checking facts before acting on them. Maybe something about arrogance but I think that took longer to stick.

Oh! And keep your ear away from whatever you’re inflating.

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