Brian’s Column: To Change a Tire

1: Ode to a onetime necessity and dimming rite of passage
Brian R. Wright

Note: These columns are a series, I will make into a volume of my memoirs. You may follow the links at top and bottom of page to go to preceding or succeeding episodes. {If the [Link to Episode <next>] at the  bottom of the column does not show an active hyperlink, then the <next> column has yet to be written.}

Let’s see if I can tweak the famous Jack London’s opening paragraph from his short story, “To Build a Fire,” to describe my experience this morning:

My fast is broken at Kerby’s Coney, ordinary fare, exceedingly ordinary, and I turn north on the Haggerty Trail, climbing the bank approaching Nine Mile, a rise where in the right lane- less-traveled sits obscured an Oakland-County spring pothole the size of a moon crater. Wrong pair of glasses, yet were it not for a brief self-excused glance at the watch, I’d have seen the damned thing and missed it by an inch to the left. Right tire hits the far edge, far up, at 40 mph, like a balloon on the blade of a dull butter knife. No worries, I have a jack, a spare, and instructions.

Okay, enough inspiration from Mr. Jack. Survival is not at stake, just a routine flat. The thing is, here in AD 2017 already, that I don’t even think to call road service. I’m a man, for chrissakes, tho of 67 well-tread years, and in this family of one we take care of our own problems, by golly! Just a routine change of a tire it is. Except for the extra effort, heavy breathing, and kneeling on pavement—I drive on the flat for half a mile into a CVS drugstore parking lot to do the work—in half an hour I’ve gone through the ‘to change a tire’ motions like a pro. [Yes, to answer some readers, I AM successful in this enterprise. “I may be dumb but I’m slow.”]

Note: the clipart image above is entitled “young good-looking man changes a tire,” I kid you not. And undoubtedly that’s the automated image I had of myself before getting down to it. Clearly, for self-preservation purposes, I need to to realize that those days are gone, and I need at least to pace myself.

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Brian’s Column: Cars and Change, 2016

Often, you have to let go to move on

Lord knows the big problems of the world are not taking a breather—I especially want to send my kudos and support out to Dane Wigington et al on the front — but every once in a while, no matter how committed one is to help save the planet, a man just has to kick back and take care of some PB. In this case, the time had come to make some decisions regarding my means of free noncommercial travel.[1]

Letting Go

Villager_1997The 1997 Mercury Villager had come to the end of the line, and I loved that car—still do. For one thing, it’s a fond remembrance of my dear mother, who had been living in my condo since about 1998. [In 1999, knowing Mom had to replace her Aerostar van, I wandered down to Varsity Lincoln-Mercury in Wixom and saw it in the used car lot; I mentioned to her that I thought it looked good. Next day, I find out she’s gone ahead and bought the doggone thing, no questions asked. Fair enough.]

The Amazing Villager was an impulse purchase that worked out famously. The photo above shows that it still retains a youthful look, after 195,000 miles (160,000 from Mom and me) of yeoman’s duty in the back and forth department: traipsing down to Parris Island with five passengers to pick up my newly minted niece Marine, several crossings of lower Michigan to Battle Creek and back, I drove it to and fro the Free State (New Hampshire) on at least three occasions, and I believe Mom even took it down to Tyler, Texas, to visit friends once or twice. So there you are. A workhorse with a heart of gold. Continue reading