A Visit to the Nail Salon

This week I unexpectedly had to visit the nail salon, but not the one you might think. No, this was the pilot wife nail salon. And perhaps it ended up saving our lives…

But wait, let me back up to the very beginning.

In January of this year the sensor lights in my mom-mobile went crazy. Brakes, tire pressure, VSA–you name it, they were flashing. I ended up taking it to the shop, and long story short, we ended up with an entire brake and tire overhaul including the rotors. And a much lighter pocketbook, I might add.

Fast forward six months later to just about two or maybe three trips ago. I was driving down the road and suddenly all the same lights began going haywire. I tell you, I was hotter than the exhaust from an F-16. Tires and brakes should last more than six months.

We took the vehicle into the place where we had the brakes done and asked them to take a look. I knew something was wrong because it just didn’t feel right.

It didn’t matter though. After three hours of who-knows-what, a top-off on the tires, and probably a couple cups of coffee and a cigarette or six, I was informed that after a very thorough investigation everything checked out ‘perfectly.’ In fact, the almost exact words were that my vehicle was ‘completely safe to drive my children around in.’ They assured me that it was simply a matter of faulty sensors and not to worry.

And so when the lights came on again the next day, I took their advice–I didn’t worry. Or the next day. Or the next. Why would I? It had been thoroughly inspected by professionals. The sensor could wait until I had some free time to deal with it, i.e. when my husband was home.

Well, I ‘didn’t worry’ for nearly two weeks while that tire light stayed on.  I drove my kids down the highway at high speeds in heavy traffic more times than I want to count in my ‘perfectly safe’ vehicle. It makes me cringe to think on it now.

Then last Thursday night I ran out to do some errands. Okay, okay. I was too lazy to cook and was picking up a pizza. I’m also a cheap pilot’s wife and refuse to pay for delivery. Don’t judge.

I came out of the Hut with my steaming hot pizza in hand…and maybe a 2-liter of soda…and just had a feeling–a pilot wife premonition. I decided to do a quick preflight check before takeoff and sure enough…

Flat. Frigging. Tire.

I mean, I’m just trying to F.L.Y. here, people! But noooooo. My rear passenger was as flat as a Kansas runway; and if you’ve never been to KS, that’s flat! I once read a really interesting article that scientifically proved that KS was actually flatter than a pancake. Tangential I know, but you get my point! It really was interesting though.

Aaaaaaand you know my pilot was on a trip. Let me count the number of times he’s been home when I’ve had a flat tire. One…two…five… ZERO! Zero times. I call that good old fashioned pilot wife karma.

There I was–a poor, helpless, little damsel in distress hopelessly stranded in the middle of a parking lot with my pizza and no big, strong man to come to my rescue.

Just kidding. I did what any pilot wife would do–

I owned it and fixed it!

Because I’m Wonder Woman. That’s one thing I love about pilot wives, especially those who have been living this lifestyle for a really long time. We are smart, resourceful, resilient, strong women who can handle just about anything–no man required. That goes doubly for our military aviation wives. Kudos ladies.

We see a problem, assess the problem, handle the problem. Period. And then we vent to other pilot wives because they get it. 

Half the time we don’t even bother telling our pilots because we don’t want to worry them with things they cannot change while they are flying. By the time they land fifty new things have happened and it’s old news anyway. My fly guy usually finds out about my crazy adventures (if at all) poste haste by reading my blog or because the kids tell him.

Anyway, I whipped out the tire pump (which I always carry) and waited for 15 minutes while the tire filled, waited another couple to make sure it was going to hold enough air, and drove home. No man required. Did I mention that? I can also change tires with the best of them mind you, but thankfully it wasn’t necessary this time.

I figured we had a[nother] nail and a slow leak. Boy was I mad at that brake and tire shop though! So much for thorough. I told them something was wrong. I hate when men write my concerns off because I am a woman. I am a pilot wife, dang it! I know stuff. Having female anatomy does not somehow negate my intelligence. I’m just saying.

The next morning I cancelled my other appointments and refilled the tire again, and the kids and I took it into the ‘nail salon’ for a removal and patch. Believe me, this was not my first song and dance. We’ve been here a few more times than I’d actually like to admit.

But do you know what? You have to make the best of things. When life gives you a flat tire, you do donuts! So that’s exactly what we did–chocolate ones with cream filling to be exact.

If I were being perfectly honest, I found it all very frustrating and annoying because this was not the way I had envisioned myself FLYing this week. Far from it. However, I was only seeing things from my happy, little inconvenienced bubble. Sometimes there’s more to the picture than meets the eye.

Indeed, as expected there was a little finishing nail embedded in the rubber. However, when they took that tire off the rim to repair the hole, they found something much, much scarier. The entire bead of the tire was severely split. If it hadn’t been for that flat tire, we wouldn’t have known about it until… Well, I hate to think on that.

We had been driving around, likely for a month at least, on a ‘terrible accident waiting to happen.’

“Ma’am,” our tire technician named George stated solemnly, “there’s no way I’m putting that tire back on and letting you put your kids in that car. I’d be sending you out in a deathtrap.”

That inconvenient little nail and our unexpected trip to the ‘nail salon’ just might have saved our lives–or at the very least a bad accident. We were suddenly very grateful for that flat tire. God was definitely looking out for us.

We ended up with a brand new tire. Thankfully, it was under warranty and was no cost to us. George was so nice, he refused to charge us labor and even took time out to give my ever-inquisitive son a detailed lesson on tires. We love people out loud everywhere we go and tend to have that affect on the general population, especially my son.

But here’s the thing–our little pilot wife moral of the day. Our lives are riddled with ‘flat tires’–schedule changes, weather delays, maintenance issues, illnesses, job losses, broken gadgets. We get annoyed when things don’t go our way. We are easily frustrated when our plans change unexpectedly without our express approval.

We can only see our current circumstances from the narrow perspective of our very small bubbles.

But sometimes those flat tires? Well, they’re actually a blessing in disguise.

I love you, aviation family.


Angelia (a pilot wife)



2 thoughts on “A Visit to the Nail Salon”

  1. I read this again this morning and was wondering, you went back to the same nail salon? And was your rescuer the same guy that said it was safe to drive your precious cargo? And if not did you let him know what was discovered?
    I think too many times we don’t go back and let lazy doctors or mechanics know that their wrong brush offs missed a potential disaster!
    So glad everything turned out! Like your metaphor. But it made me realize that we want to hear it’s “all okay, don’t worry” but that doesn’t mean it is. So glad God had this one for ya!

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