Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Kindness of Strangers

I am a very independent woman.  I grew up in the middle of the feminist revolution, and my female classmates and I roared right along with the older women out there.  Women could do anything that men could do, we were told, and I certainly tried. I opened my own doors, I paid for my own dates, and took responsibility for my own sexual health.  I even tried to take auto mechanics in high school, not because I was interested in pursuing that vocation, but because I wanted to know how to fix my own car.  That would show those men! 

And then I got a flat tire.

It was early morning rush hour, and I had a big meeting.  I didn't want to be late.  I was not happy to feel that 'kathump-kathump-kathump' that signaled a flat tire.  I was not happy trying to pull over to the side of a two lane road in rush hour traffic.  I was especially not happy to find myself standing on the side of the road, dressed up for work, staring at a deflated piece of rubber. 

But while I was annoyed and irritated by the situation, I was not down. No, I was excited by the prospect of changing my first tire!  I'd read books about the process, looked at pictures, watched movies, etc.  It looked especially easy--unscrew the lugnuts, jack up the car, pull off the flat, slap on the new tire, ease down the jack and tighten up the lugnuts.  No problem, I said.  I can do that, I said. 

Except that I couldn't. 

Those freakin' lugnuts were put on with a pneumatic drill.  My 130lbs(yes, I used to be skinny) couldn't compete with that, not even with all the weightlifting I was doing at the time.  Also, the thingy that they give you to unscrew those lugnuts is dreadfully short--no way to gain any sort of torque.  I pulled and pulled and pulled at the lugnuts, my frustration at being late growing along with a dawning realization that I was no match for a damn deflated piece of rubber.  I was nearing that frenzied state of hysteria where bursting into tears was imminent.  There were no cell phones about just yet, so I couldn't call anyone, unless I walked a mile to the nearest phone.

And then, a man wearing an auto shop shirt showed up, pulling his truck right behind my car.  He did not say a word. He got out of his truck, looked at my tire, then looked at my teary face. Then he pulled out his own tire thingy...and changed my tire in three minutes flat. The lugnuts that refused to budge for me turned easily for him, and wham! bam!  I was good to go.  I barely had a moment to holler "thank you" at him before he was back in his truck and on his way.

I had been schooled by a stranger.  And I liked it.

Mama’s Losin’ It


  1. Hooray for silent men in auto shop shirts!

  2. Gosh, that does beat him hanging around acting all superior, or making you cry harder...mission accomplished and good-bye!

    1. I know--I was expecting to at least have to endure a little good natured ribbing!

  3. In my fantasy he's wearing cowboy boots and levis. (NOT wranglers). And he tips his hat gives a slow smile that only turns up at one corner. He still doesn't need to say anything, though. I'd be fine with that part. Its just that I'd prefer to be schooled by a cowboy. Or Bruce Springsteen, dressed in an auto body shirt, asking about my Daddy's whereabouts. That would be fine, too. Oh Hiii! I'm Chicken. I like it here.

  4. What a relief! I wouldn't know the first thing about changing a tire. I would have immediately started crying!


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