Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's All Relative

It's funny what we grow accustomed to. Right now, it's 75°, and I just heard my daughter say, "It's cold outside." ;)

Temperatures here in Maine have been usually hot for the past week or two with the mercury rising above 100° on at least one day recently. On the hottest of recent days, I was doing a few errands, and as I pulled out of the bank parking lot, I realized I had a flat tire.

So, I backed back into the parking lot to take a look. Yep. Flat.

As I assembled all of the tools I'd need to change the flat, a young man came out of the bank to ask if I needed a phone. Who would I call? I thought, and said that I could probably handle it, and that there was no one I could call anyway. He looked at the tire iron and jack I was holding, and mumbled something about not being car savvy. He offered the girls some ice cream and said they could wait inside the lobby of the bank, which was air conditioned.

The digital read out on the bank's sign said it was 103°.

After I changed the tire, I went into the bank to get my girls. One of the tellers showed me to the bathroom so that I could wash my hands and splash some cold water on my beet-red face. She told me that I'd done much better than she would have. She'd have waited for Triple A. The problem is that I don't have Triple A, as I refuse to pay for a service that I *might* use once every five years. It just doesn't seem like a good use of my money.

On the New Society forums Dmitry Orlov is discussing his recently re-released book, Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects, and one Professor has asked for advice on how he should invest the small excess he has each month. Dmitry says "Gamble." I say, learn to be self-sufficient.

In the long-run, being self-sufficient pays dividends that can never be earned through any other investments, and unlike other investments, no matter what happens, self-sufficiency is always there.

Sure, I could have been sitting in the air conditioning eating Choco-Tacos while some guy changed my tire for me, but he would have walked away with all of the cash that I'd just deposited. As it turns out, my daughters got free ice cream, I got a free workout changing the tire, and my money is still in the bank.

The next morning, I asked Deus Ex Machina why he wasn't impressed that I could change my own tire (and just FYI, I drive a Suzuki XL-7 SUV, and not some tiny, little compact car - it's a little more of a challenge to jack up an SUV than it is a Honda Civic ;), and he said that changing a tire is something we should all be able to do. It's the very least he would expect from me or anyone else, and the fact that I have learned a skill that everyone should have isn't all that impressive.

Not to him, maybe, but I think I'm probably a celebrity at my local bank - the little woman who single-handedly jacked up an SUV and changed the tire ... in full sun ... on blacktop ... when the temperature was over 100°.


  1. I quite agree, well done you. The last time I tried to change a tyre the bolts were so tight I could not budge them, in spite of several doses of WD40, so we had to pump it up with a foot pump and take it to the garage anyway. It is one of those things that nowadays people seem to think nothing of getting someone to do for them.
    I wrote a post a while ago about buying new bike tyre and encountering a family in the shop who wanted their child's bike puncture fixed and going away disappointed because the shop man didn't have time to do it the same day. I hope you set an example to those watching your efforts that it's not necessarily a job for the 'professionals'.
    thanks for sharing

  2. I am definitely impressed you can change a tire! Although, I think I am more impressed that you did it during the hot weather we had last week...I think I would have just left the car with flat tire and called a cab :-)

  3. Congrats on changing your tire. I and my husband and 3 grown sons, altho not my DsIL, also feel anyone who drives should know how. Now, because of health issues hubby and I are no longer able to change a tire immediately, it would have to be done in steps with rests in-between, we have a tire inflater that plugs into the dash. This gives us enough time to get home and change the tire at our own speed.

    There are lots of other simple things I can do and I know you can too - unplug the sink or toilet, check the fuse box, make do without electricity for 24 hours. I'm absolutely appalled at how little our neighbors and friends can do - we constantly see repair trucks in the neighborhood - only to find out what the problem was and how easy to fix it was. I also prefer to keep money in the bank for my discretionary use - not to pay for something I'm quite capable of doing myself.

  4. I give you a TON of credit! I probably could have done it, but I don't think I would have done it! Not at that temperature! :)

  5. I remember my friend Patrick insisting on teaching me how to change a tire (and the oil) on his car when I was in my late teens. He said it's a skill everyone should know.

    Ironically, I've never owned a car, so I've never used the skills he taught me....but I've owned a lot of bikes, and never learned how to change the tire on my bikes. I've always had to call someone to come over and do it for me. Hmmm, think I need to fill that gap in my education....

  6. Good for you! My dad made sure that every one of us kids --boys and girls-- knew how to change a tire, check all fluids and oil, add to said fluids and oil, change oil, check tire pressure...all the basic things one needs to keep a car running. He also made sure we knew how to do basic household things...fix leaky faucets, unclog a toilet and sink, fix window screens, change a fuse, etc. Really, we all need to know how to do this stuff! Think of the money it saves and the sense of empowerment it gives us! Well done, you!

  7. Thumbs up! I agree with Deus, it's something everyone should know — but not everyone does. Me, I might have looked to stick the barge in a shady spot first then sweated a gallon or so.

    We didn't get any 100° days at the manor, but we got close. And get close a lot. Not that much difference between 98 and 100 anyway.

  8. I am impressed with your willingness to change it, more than perhaps your ability to, although that's good too. Many women will proudly proclaim, I'll never do this or that; I might get my hands dirty! Bleh! Now, you just need to learn to weld and you'll be all set! ;)

  9. Read Orlov's book and was very disappointed. I assumed the book would focus the two main issues identified in the title, “The Soviet Example” and “American Prospects” in the context of collapse Instead, about the first third of the book is a revisionist attempt to explain how the Soviet Union didn’t really lose the Cold War and how the U.S. never won it, with a good does of moral equivalency and leftist fluff. Meh. Observations on why Russia did not fall into anarchy are useful – the rest of the book is not. Like his advice to the Professor to gamble.