Breaking the Line

“A jack.  No matter, I think I can help if you don't mind getting a touch dirty.  Can you pop your trunk for me?”

I uncased the spare and worked it out of the awkward compartment that all new cars seem to come equipped with, as if the manufacturers want to make changing a tire as difficult and unpleasant as possible.  There was a bracket along the inner wheel well intended for a jack, but as she'd indicated, it was empty.  I was relieved to see that she did have a tire iron.  I hunkered by the punctured tire and removed the lug nuts.

“OK, miss, here's where I'm going to need your help.”  She got out of the car and came to stand at my side.  “When I get this off of the ground, you pull off the tire.  Don't worry, the tire is pretty light, and all you need to do is pull it free and let it drop.  Watch your toes.”

She looked at me dubiously, but I just nodded reassuringly.  Then I placed myself at the rear of the car, facing back down the highway, squatted, felt behind me with both hands for a good grip on the bumper, and stood up.  Slowly.  I'm still about as big and nearly as strong as in my playing days, but even in my prime this wouldn't have been easy for me.  I wonder if the creaking and straining I felt in every knotted and corded muscle and tendon was audible.  I also wondered if she'd got the tire off and could she hurry about it.

“OK,” she said at length, and I lowered the Honda back onto three good tires and the narrow spare: she'd taken the initiative to hoist the narrow donut of a spare into position.  I wasn't sure if I was grateful or not.  I hunkered down again with the tire iron, gave it a few spins and she was set to go.

“Thank you so much.  I don't know how to -”, she paused, obviously searching for the correct English expression, “- pay back you.”





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