Last night we performed two of the mandatory tasks that are required in order to pass the class: change a tire and remove and reinstall a battery. We'll also have to do an oil change, but we haven't gotten to that yet.
Before last night, I had never touched a tire before. What's more, I had never used a ratchet or torque wrench either. While I had touched a battery (to get it out of the way so that I could replace my headlight--that was before I knew that you shouldn't tilt your battery), I had never removed one before. Let me tell you, you've never been under the gun if you've never had a dozen boys stand around telling you how to use a ratchet all at the same time. And of course all that pressure made me very nervous so I immediately forgot how to use it so they had to tell me again. And then again when I was loosening instead of tightening. I was rushing too, trying to make sure I wasn't the slowest in the class, but wonderfully, when I was done The Ex smiled and said that I did it faster than some of the others before me, which made me happy. For the tire, we had to take off the lug nuts, remove the tire and put it on the floor, visually inspect the tire, replace it and then torque the nuts to 100 ft. lbs.
By the way, if you are installing two new tires and keeping two old ones, the new tires should be installed on the back of the car regardless of whether you have a front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. If you don't believe me (and ThatGuy doesn't), see this information from Michelin for an explanation.
We were allowed to go home once we finished the assignment and The Mumbler went first but didn't go home (his wife was "talking to" the kids tonight so he figured he would be better off just staying away for another little while to see if he could avoid the drama). So The Mumbler was close by when I started working on my tire and was very helpful (I was supposed to do it all by myself, but I think Mr. Forrest gave me a little leeway in that regard). The Mumbler helped me hold the tire on while I was taking off the lug nuts and when I was reaching to pick the tire up off the floor, he leaned down and asked if it was too heavy for me. Which was very chivalrous and appreciated, but at the same time, I've got to learn it all for myself so I politely declined. And then my feet got caught on my own Birkenstocks and I almost fell down. Such is life. At least I didn't fall down on my ass.
And speaking of lug nuts, The Mumbler came in wearing this shirt last night:
Apparently, his wife and 17-year-old step-daughter found this shirt at the local Goodwill and told him he needed to wear it to class last night. He later apologized if I was offended; he told his wife and daughter that he would wear it before remembering that there was a "lady" in the class who might be offended. I wasn't offended by his shirt (I found it quite funny actually) and his chivalry of the evening was refreshing. And he's not the only chivalrous guy in the group either. Pitbull told me that he wouldn't want his wife stranded without assistance so he offers his assistance to other stranded women whenever he can.
This is important, gentlemen. Every damsel in distress doesn't need to be saved, but it's thoughtful to offer assistance. And the ultra-feminists out there who might be offended need to understand that not every man offers his help to a woman out of pity for the "little lost girl who can't do anything for herself." If you turn him down, all you've done is refuse help lifting that tire. And dude, tires are heavy. I think about my mom who I’m sure knows how to change a tire in theory, but she probably doesn’t have the physical strength to do it herself. If any of you see her on the side of the road, please stop and help her. I’m sure she would appreciate it.
But my highlight of the night was when Pitbull caught me in the classroom before I left and asked me what "my secret" was to learning all of this stuff. Apparently, I come off as a quick learner (at least to him). Pitbull has been a technician (of some non-auto related industry) for 12 years and told his wife that this girl in his class who's never touched a car was learning all this stuff easier than he was and he was a little intimidated.
Intimidated. Can you hear the sound of my awesomeness coming through the computer? Probably not, because I'm struggling with the information (and told Pitbull that I appreciated the sentiment but I'm probably the most lost person in the class). I picked up this Electronics Learning Lab from RadioShack over the weekend, but haven't figured out enough about it to even start playing yet. Diodes and potentiometers and transistors and transformers and LEDs and P-type material and N-type material and zener diodes and all other kinds of crap that I seriously have to figure out, and really soon. I made index cards over the weekend; maybe that'll help.
We go back to electronics class tonight so, unfortunately, probably more confusion to come.