The night before yesterday I spent getting my 29er ready for ice riding. I have a pair of studded tires (that I made myself using an old pair of tires and a bunch of sheet metal screws). So I switched the tires over, and the frame bag with pump enclosed, and threw a spare tube in too. I was ready to ride.
Flats almost always suck but this was no big deal as I had a spare tube, and pump along. I went to grab my tire irons out of my seatbag and was horrified to see that I didn't have one with me. I had forgotten to switch it over to this bike. A string of rather dark thoughts went through my head as I thought of all the miles I'd be pushing my bike home just because I had forgotten the measly tire iron. I threw on my spare windbreaker that standard to bring along on every bike ride - but of course a tool kit is also a standard thing to bring along so I guess that "standard" is about meaningless - and started walking.
Probably 15 year ago I remember reading an article (I believe it was in Dirt Rag - as if that matters much) that had a little tidbit that's stuck with me all those years. I have no idea why it did, I've never used that tidbit before, I have no idea what the article was about, it's just one of those things that sticks with you. Usually I've got a memory like a steel sieve but this clung to my brain. The tidbit is: if you find yourself out in the middle of nowhere without a tire iron try using your skewer. I did this and it worked great.
I pumped it up and was off. And boy was I relieved - it would have probably been a 20 mile hike home. I shudder to think about it.