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
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.