A Year of Morning Thanks
Dudley in Distress
Because the barber shop is gone and the local pool hall integrated long ago, the city dump, most often, is just about the only exclusively male world in town these days. Come October Saturdays, it's busy, pickups moving in and out in a steady stream of grass clippings, leaves, what's left of the summer's flowers, and now and then a cord of wood from that dead tree that finally came down.
I don't have a pickup. Maybe that's my problem. I put the grass and leaves in huge plastic bags, then lug them to the dump in the trunk of my Buick. Okay, I may well have been the only guy out there in a Buick. Maybe that's how to understand what happened.
Somehow, one of my tires took a stick in the shank, as if some aborigines with bellows for lungs aimed at the left rear tire and assaulted it with a poison dart as thick as my little finger. I'm not lying. Check the picture.
I never heard that tire exhale, but the guys next to me did. They were Hispanic, but their gestures made it clear that something was amiss with my car. I was already backing out, so when I saw them waving their arms and pointing, I got out, walked around the car, and saw the reason for the commotion. That tire was perfectly flat, the stick poking out of it like some wooden stiletto.
So who's changed a tire in the last decade? Some Nobel-Prize level engineer determined that nobody would go flat anymore, so he came up with some grand rubberish discover so that flats don't happen anymore. My last one was twenty years ago, when our kids were so little they were impressed when their old man pulled to the side of the road, grabbed the jack and the spare, and pulled off a change as if he were a grease monkey.
But I'm hardly in shape. Nobody practices, nobody does a run through, do they? I don't. When I saw the flat, I wasn't looking forward to changing it, in part because when mechanical aptitude was passed out to the fleet of babies I was a part of, I must have been writing a poem.
I'm standing there looking at this pancake tire, when out of nowhere this sweet young guy comes by and says, "You want some help?"
Okay, I did. But what I'm wondering is, how inept did I look, just standing there? Was there something written on my forehead that broadcast to the world that I didn't have a clue how to change the blame tire? How'd the kid know I was Prof. Klutz? I hadn't done a thing yet, hadn't even popped the trunk, and just like that the Good Samaritan leaves his little boy in the pickup, on the lookout for distressed souls.
And in a minute, another guy there, another man who, in some perfectly male way, simply took over for the young guy. I swear--I didn't have a flat tire for more than two minutes, and I had a caregivers galore.
I'm bald as a billiard ball, but so is Joe the Plumber. Hairlessness isn't the reason all these guys read my stress and came to my aid. Maybe these days this 60-year-old looks like Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace or any of a dozen geezers at the Home. I just don' t know why I attracted care-givers so quickly. You'd think I would have been wielding an aluminum walker.
Why did those real men think I needed help? Maybe the mechanically apt smell out the inept instinctively. For some mysterious reason, within a minute I had two Good Sams who proceeded, unbidden, to change my tire, while I stood there like a pansy.
And when it was over, when I myself loaded the flat in the trunk, another old guy not far away, a man I don't know from Floyd the Barber, hrummphed, "You ought to write a book about it." Then chuckled.
I doubt that old man reads blogs. And I'm guessing my two mechanics don't either.
Okay, I admit it: there's a good chance, two days later, I'd still be there had they left me on my own. So, yes, I'm thankful for a couple of ex-boy scouts who somehow, some way sensed distress in a bald guy with pancake tire.
In less than five minutes I was out of the dump. Just that easy. Not kidding. But I'm left in distress, worrying about my masculinity. Again. :).