Christopherson Column - An endorphin rush, after changing a tire?

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

    I tried the first one and it didn’t budge. I put more of my might and mass into the effort, and still it stood firm. Then I gave it my absolute all, and, still, not a millimeter of movement was detected as I cranked on it and torqued my whole body.

    So, in the midst of a sunny afternoon with temperatures creeping into the low-90s, my always helpful wife intervened, offering to give it a try. But it was no go for her, either. Then our youngest son, feeling that his strapping self could come particularly in handy at this moment, said he’d give it a go. But he, too, enjoyed no success.

    My turn again. I suggested we move onto the next one in the hope of getting better results. Second verse, same as the first…

    But then…progress! I was able to loosen the third one without tearing my shoulder out of its socket. And the fourth one, too, followed joyously by the fifth and sixth ones as well.

    So it was back to the first two. Feeling more emboldened than a few minutes prior and with sweat dripping off my forehead onto the curb, I horsed those two lug nuts with every molecule of physical and mental will at my disposal and they had no choice but to loosen their death grip. With elation being felt all around, we were finally ready and able to jack up the car and change the tire.

    Is it wrong that I think I actually felt an endorphin rush when the deed was done? Is successfully removing a flat tire and replacing it with a spare tire cause for…celebration?

    It almost seems so, given the world we live in these days, where, for a fee, we can secure just about any service we want at any time and in any place.

    When was the last time I changed a tire? I can’t even recall. Considering all the youth hockey trips we took over all those years, zig-zagging from one corner of Minnesota to another, I’d have to conclude that we had tremendous luck when it came to avoiding tire blowouts. You drive on all these interstates and see all these chunks of shredded, mangled rubber on the shoulders and you wonder, when is it our turn?

    Luckily, it was never our turn.

A ‘weird sitch’

    My wife and I and our two sons have a family group chat set up via text that we use most days. Given this, actual phone calls are much less frequent. So my wife and I have instructed our sons that on the occasions they feel compelled to call us out of the blue, if they are safe and everything is largely fine, they need to announce first and foremost that they are safe and everything is fine.

    So while we were driving to the lake this past Saturday, our youngest son called and, while doing as instructed and telling us he was safe and everything was fine, he added that he was in a bit of a “weird sitch.” (That’s youth-speak for “situation.”) Asked what was up, he reported that while driving to pick up a friend, he’d driven over a piece of jagged metal that ripped into his rear passenger’s side tire.

    So, I said, his “weird sitch” was a flat tire?

    Yes, that was the weird sitch. We told him to get it to the nearest curb and leave it.

    Back in town the next day, we drove to the scene and got started. When I couldn’t loosen the first two lug nuts, my wife was quick to point out that our vehicle insurance included roadside assistance and help was just a phone call away.

    I would have rather left both of my torn-off arms in a white-knuckle grip on that jack handle/wrench, the result of a violent and bloody and gory failed attempt to loosen those two lugs, than make that call.

    I probably changed my last tire right around the time I last changed my own oil and filter, soon after I got my driver’s license. I wanted my grandma’s hand-me-down 1973 Nova, my precious first ride, to have oil clear enough to see through. But it was off to college and a bigger city a couple years later, and when you see places like Jiffy Lube and the quick convenience they offer, paying someone to do the work for you soon becomes the norm.

    The myriad of services that meet our every last need, no matter how minuscule, have multiplied almost infinitely in the decades since. That’s obviously good for many reasons, but there’s always a downside, and in this case it’s people who don’t know how to do some things for themselves that their parents and grandparents considered largely routine tasks back in the day.

    And it can lead to a “weird sitch,” indeed. Not the flat tire itself in our particular case, but how satisfied I felt after I changed it.