Pumping air into life

October 8, 2013 

I did something I’m very proud of this past week.

It wasn’t all that extraordinary, but it actually brightened my day, which is usually the exact opposite effect doing this task has on people. I changed a tire.

After a long business trip to Vegas, straight off the red-eye, there I was charging down Wilkinson Road when I heard a rumbling. I assumed it was a passing airplane above, but the acrid smell of rubber told me otherwise. I quickly pulled to the side of the road, surveyed the damage and went to work putting the spare tire, ahem, donut, on the car.

Fifteen minutes later I was drenched in sweat, hands greased, clothes wrinkled and disheveled, but I was back on the road and headed to a garage.

Fifteen minutes!

Now I know mechanics and pit roadies are rolling their eyes right now, but I jacked up a car on a grassy knoll, wrenched off the lug nuts, yanked off the shredded tire and put a teeny-tiny toy wheel in its place. Then I tightened the nuts, lowered the jack, and put everything back into place in the trunk. As an extra bonus, the 15-minute window was too short for bands of thieves on Wilkinson to separate me from my wallet!

As I drove away, fingers smudging the steering wheel with grime, I thought to myself that I just pulled from years of experience to do a manual task. This wasn’t my first rodeo in changing flats, as my karma-challenged sister-in-law can attest, but it still felt good to know that in a pinch I can pull myself up by my bootstraps – even if wearing loafers and no suspenders.

I didn’t have to consult an app on my phone or Google “tire change tips and tricks” to get instructions. I didn’t have to call roadside assistance and wait the hour or longer it would take as I stood by helplessly. I dragged my tired body to the side of the road, clothes still stinking from an overnight flight and the Vegas plume of smoke that permeates hotel casinos, and finished the deed.

My only regret is that my kids weren’t in the car to help out. Sure, that could have resulted in a “Christmas Story”-like event where metal pieces go flying and curses soon follow, but they would have gotten a life lesson that might come in handy later.

Sort of like the one I just completed.

Reach Scott at costanalysiscolumn@gmail.com to call out “Fudge!” – but not really say fudge.

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