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Any man can fix a flat -- right?

Life has a way of telling you it's time to stop to smell the exhaust fumes.

The world explained that point to me the other day. I was driving my

best vehicular friend — MAH TRUCK — on a work assignment to an adjacent

town. This pickup, which my dear bride, the saintly Susan, gave me as a

birthday gift about six years ago, is a great personal joy.

As a result, I felt a sincere level of personal pain when the poor

thing went lame in the middle of the freeway. In a technical sense, it

blew a tire.

The timing and location were something less than perfect. I was 11

miles from my office in one direction, and eight miles from my

destination in the other. I wasn't quite in the middle of nowhere, but

I was on the outskirts of the middle. There was also a time issue. I

had just over half an hour to get to my appointment, but I didn't

expect that to be a crushing problem.

You see, I'm a man! Men, by the rules of heaven and genetic inclination, can scratch, spit, act stupidly, and change tires.

After the blowout, I drove MAH TRUCK at a slow, flat-thumping pace until I found a reasonably safe spot to pull off the freeway.

It was then I faced my first challenge. Now, I have a question. Who is

the genius who decided to put my spare under the butt end of my truck

in a place where I have to stick a three-foot long metal rod into a

black hole to attach it to a gizmo, which I cannot see, to crank down

the chain that holds the wheel in place?

I realize I don't understand the delights of automotive design, but

this arrangement could have only been conjured up by the Marquis DeSade.

After spending half an hour, proving yet again that I have not one

fragment of mechanical skill, I got the spare free. Then I cranked the

jack up to its absolute maximum height to remove the wheel with the

dead tire.

There is a funny thing about flat and full tires. Astounding as it may

seem, inflated tires are bigger than flat ones. There was no way under

heaven I was going to get the spare on without raising the truck

another three or four inches.

Since screaming curses at the tire, the jack, the designer of the jack,

and the little boy who lives down the lane, didn't seem like a

productive option, I lowered the jack, moved it to another spot under

the truck and began cranking it back up. This was obviously going to

work. I'd get the wretched spare in place and only be 10 or 15 minutes

late, but nobody told the jack.

After going up about four inches, the jack broke. The idea that I could

break, with my feeble arm, a jack that theoretically could lift

thousands of pounds, doesn't seem reasonable to me, but nothing about

that morning had been reasonable.

I had a dead tire, a dead jack, and with my male ego — of course I can

change a flat! — in tatters, I surrendered to the inevitable. I got out

my cellphone and called a tow truck to fix my flat.

After making the call, I climb an embankment next to the freeway,

to sit down, wait for the truck and, well, to smell the exhaust fumes.

In minutes, the truck arrived, the spare was fixed, and I was on my way.

If I had called for help immediately I'd have been all fixed up in

about half an hour, instead of futzing around for more than 90 minutes,

but that would have violated the unwritten, but eternally-binding,


"I'm a man. I can fix a flat!"

It's true I can fix a flat — with the help of a tow truck.