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My widow would think that was stupid

This was decades ago -- back when N.D. State Highway 37 west of Garrison was a gravel road. I had a date from way out west and I drove out to pick her up. We were headed for a high school reunion party about one year after graduation. I was wearing my cleanest and best clothes. About half way back to the party -- a flat tire. Flat tires were far more common at that time then they are today. I jumped out of my Studebaker, opened the trunk, took out the jack, jacked the car up (about 10 pumps of the jack handle), removed the flat, put on the spare and jumped back into the car. "That took just five minutes and 20 seconds," announced my date (who was no flat tire herself). She thought I was pretty good and so did I.

Fast forward to the spring of 2009. Driving back from a concert on a dark rainy night, my date and I were almost home -- flat tire. We drove another block or two to our driveway to postpone the change until daylight and dry weather. Next day when it was bright and dry I went out and opened the trunk of my 2003 General Motors supercar. I knew I'd have to dig for a spare, so I started opening little doors. I found my jack, but no spare. Some cars have their spare tire under the hood. I didn't think mine was there, but I looked anyway. Not there, no spare.

When in doubt, read the directions. So I dug out my Owner's Manual to see where my spare tire was. I knew it was one of those tiny mini-tires that's supposed to take you no more than 20-30 miles until you get the big one fixed. The manual told me my spare was mounted under the rear end of the car and you had to jack the car up to remove it, then lower the car and jack it up again to remove the flat tire and put on the spare. I crawled under the car and there was the spare tucked up in the recesses of the dirty underside. Did I want to jack my car up and crawl under it? I thought about how stupid my widow would think that act was and decided not to.

So I jacked the car up to remove my flat. My 21st Century jack is an entirely different design than the old five minute, 20 second jack of yesteryear and it can probably lift more, but the mechanism involves multiple rotary turns rather than straight up clicks. After many minutes and many revolutions, the car was up and the flat removed. The big tire weighed about three times the weight of my ancient Studebaker tire. Then, leaving the car up on the jack I loaded the flat in another car and took it to the tire fixers. "You can come back in about an hour and a half," they told me. But I got a call in about an hour. "Your tire is ruined and we don't have any new ones on hand in your size, but we have a pretty good used tire."

"How much will it cost me? OK, put it on."

Two hours later, I had another tire and I hauled it home and put it on the car. I was back in business. It's a good thing I had a weekend day to take care of the chores. If I'd been on a date on the way to a dance, we'd have arrived just in time for the last dance.

Now I ask you this question: In the flat tire department have we made progress over the years with our jacks, spare tires and "slow motion" fixes or have we regressed? I think the answer is obvious.

The moral of the story is this; the time for making an impression on a girl by changing a flat tire in five minutes and 20 seconds has come and gone. Forget about it. That was a trick for an earlier generation. To make the same impression today you need a blackberry, an earring and a tattoo. Forget about it.