When was the last time you changed a tire on your car? And by you, I mean you and not Joe-the-mechanic at the corner service station, if such people and things still exist.

For me, it was probably 25 years ago. Maybe more. It’s not exactly the kind of achievement memorialized with a diploma, certificate of accomplishment, or even a cryptic note on the calendar. Though it probably should be. Since there is no achievement too insignificant for ceremonies and certification.

A recent trip produced the deflation. Visiting the child (at 40-plus years old) of a friend who had recently passed away, I exited the Interstate and drove on the crowded State Highway, and then to the side road leading to the desolate off-off street that ended in a dead end forcing a left turn to a less well-paved road.

Overshooting the driveway, I cruised a short distance to where the road “widened” ever-so-slightly to turn around on the cramped, barely one-lane road.


Sounding like the way a comic book dialogue balloon looks, the glass liquor bottle exploded as I drove over it. Well, for Pete’s sake.

I’m in the middle of no-effing-where, an area so remote even the critters don’t bother with it and two-leggers are sparsely settled. This being New England, we like using the word “sparsely” in contrast to the region’s road signs announcing “thickly settled.” And there, with virtually no one in sight and slim evidence there had ever been, is a discarded whiskey flask.

Is there no other place to conduct private drinking? At home, one supposes, is simply out of the question.

Parking in the friend’s child’s driveway, after 90 minutes of pleasant conversation with multiple trips down various memory lanes, it was time to leave. The short walk to the car revealed what was in store with each step. Looks like there’s a flat tire. The tire appears flat. But poke it just in case. Yep. Flat.

Without even consulting the car’s 400-page owner manual, I set to the task. And, in fast order, the job was accomplished. Five lug nuts and one tire and the wheel off, the punk-ass, pint-sized donut tire was installed. Sidebar: why, when one pays $30K for a car, can’t one expect an adult-sized spare tire? Dunno.

Driving back on the less well-paved road, to the off-off street, then the side road to the State Highway, I merged on to the Interstate. Which, after about ten miles at 50 mph, I exited as my pokiness was causing a traffic hazard.

Arriving safely at the hotel, the next morning I drove the car to the one service station not a mile away that still has a mechanic on duty. Alex took the keys and two hours and $25 later, the original tire was fixed, the punk-ass reinstalled in its berth, and I was off to the next adventure.

Some skills and knowledge stick with you. Even those that seem worthlessly pointless at the time. Which reminds me of my 8th grade typing class; a perfectly useless skill, I was certain, that I’d never use again.


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