Brother, can you spare a tire?

Features column

T. Gamble

T. Gamble

It is now official. America is going to hell in a handbasket. This fact is very disturbing and it may even be more serious than I know because, to tell you the truth, I don’t know what in the world going to hell in a handbasket really means to begin with. It is one of those phrases I have always used, but if I think about it very hard, I realize it doesn’t make much sense. I’m sure, however, one of my alert readers will let me know its true meaning. And, when I say one of my alert readers, I do mean one.

Why is America going to hell in a handbasket? Is it the budget deficit? Is it high unemployment? Unwed mothers? Trapper John, from the M*ASH TV program, now doing reverse mortgage commercials?

No, it is the failure of the American automobile manufacturing companies to provide a reasonable jack and spare tire for roadside emergencies.

Once before I briefly touched on this subject in an article. Unfortunately, last weekend my Ford truck suffered a flat tire. I don’t know why the tire went flat, other than the fact I ran over a large protruding stump of a recently cut-down tree.

I know that it was a recently cut-down tree because I had just cut the tree down before I then proceeded to run over the sharp edge of the stump, which poked a hole in the sidewall of the tire. As the song goes, that’s when my heartache began.

There was a time when if you owned a pickup truck, you could find the spare tire, lug wrench and jack all in the back of the bed of the truck, where they belong. Those days are now long gone. I don’t know who designs the storage compartments for jacks and lug wrenches in trucks these days, but whoever it is should immediately be hired by the CIA to head covert operations.

After much searching, I finally found the box containing the jack and excuse for a lug wrench hidden underneath the back seat of the truck, under a panel, secured by wing nuts that could not be reached by human hands, and packaged in a manner that assured it could never be replicated, condemning me to have the lug wrench and all of the adjoining parts rattling around under my seat for the remainder of the time that I now will own my truck.

The tire is conveniently placed under the truck, but cannot be removed unless one has an engineering degree from MIT. It would also be helpful to have a floodlight so that one could peer through the small hole that the truck has for guiding the lug wrench through the hole to unwind the cable that holds the tire in place under the truck. As far as I can tell, there is no reasonable expectation that a spare tire will ever again be placed under the truck.

I could almost forgive these difficulties were it not for the excuse for a jack that is now given for changing a tire. I will say the jack works perfectly if placed on a hard, flat surface, with plenty of clearance room for the body of the truck. The next time I have a flat tire, I will try to make certain it occurs right as I am pulling across the oil change bay at a Quiki Lube.

Any other location, however, means there is virtually no chance that the jack will be stable and even less chance that anyone can crank the jack up with the tool given to turn the jack bar to lift the jack. Oh, how I long for the day when the good old bumper jack came with the truck. You could hook that baby almost anywhere and it would lift the truck up.

Of course, in today’s world it would tear the bumper off the truck, but at least you could jack it up and down without obstruction.

There was a time when a child turned the age of 16 that one of the first things a father would do is to take the child out and teach them how to change a tire in case they ever had a flat. I’ve abandoned this thought process completely. With the advent of cell phones, I simply suggest that they call a wrecker service and get a friend to drive them home, which is what I should have done.

Next time, I’ll just trade my truck in, flat tire and all.

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.


Worth1977 3 years, 1 month ago

You are correct in that as near as 20 years ago when a drivers license was earned the 16 year old was made to change a tire. Unfortunately cars today are designed by people who live in a metropolitan area that ride a bicycle. They can't comprehend being stranded 20 miles from a city and no cell service. I still remember red grease rags in my daddys truck just for when a tire needed to be changed.


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