Before I got up that day, I’d had a bad dream and I woke up feeling gloomy and irritated. Nevertheless, I began my daily activities, in spite of my dejection. That afternoon, I went grocery shopping in the nearby town of Wijhe (The Netherlands), after which I drove to the gas station, about five miles down the road in Windesheim. When my gas tank was filled up, I wanted to inflate my tires. There was an air dispenser at the gas station, and I threw in the required 50 eurocents. I entered the correct air pressure on the display and pushed the nozzle onto the valve of the tire. What usually happened, was that the car tire would inflate for about 10 or 20 seconds, after which a warning signal sounded, signifying the air pressure was correct.

But this time, nothing happened. There was a lot of hissing, the air dispenser sounded like it kicked in, but I had the impression my car tires were actually deflating, instead of inflating. I walked over the store in the gas station and explained to the clerk that the equipment wasn’t working properly. The man’s reply was of little use. He explained how the air dispenser worked, but I already knew that. He gave me a new 50 eurocent coin and would make a note for the technical department if it still didn’t work. I had hoped he would walk with me outside and have a look, but he didn’t.

I tried again with the new coin, but the result was the same: a lot of hissing, and no tires being inflated. To my annoyance, the air dispenser was poorly designed: the display showing the air pressure was slanted at a 45 degree angle, so I couldn’t see it when I kneeled down by the tires. I’m normally a calm person, but I got frustrated and began to curse. I was so focused on my task, and now the equipment didn’t work! I usually don’t get angry at people, but when machinery is not working, my blood starts boiling. Finally, I gave up. I hoped nobody at the gas station had seen me swear. I imagined it must have been a funny sight.

Disgruntled, I drove away from the gas station. I did some more swearing in my car. Rationally, I wondered why I was so worked up, but I fear I had to let off some steam from my bad dream. And a scenario with a dysfunctional air dispenser was just the last straw.

I drove back to Wijhe. I knew there was a gas station there, but it was unmanned. It turned out, they had an air dispenser. This one was simple to operate and it was free of charge. To my surprise, I could read the display while I was kneeling down. One of the front tires was way too soft, as I had feared.

In just a few minutes, I was done. My car was in perfect shape again, with a filled up gas tank and inflated tires, and I thought there was a lesson in my situation. Sometimes, things don’t work out and people get frustrated, but when you persevere and trudge on, there is an off-chance that you may find a better solution in the process. Setbacks are not necessarily bad. This time it’s inflating tires, next it may be a failed career. The point is to keep on going and search for new solutions.

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