Can your teenager change a flat tire? Or, for that matter, can you? Alan May's post yesterday about marketing to generation Y got me thinking. (How's that for shiny Alan?) I am a Baby Boomer (No, that doesn't mean that I'm overly fertile or virile, though some may argue with that, present company excluded). It just means that I was born between 1946 and 1964. I was actually born in January of 1964, so I guess that makes me the oldest of the last of the Baby Boomers. Wow, that sounds terminal. My youngest of three kids will be 18 next month. He cannot change a flat tire. Well, he can now, but he couldn't yesterday. You see, I failed to teach him how to change a flat tire. Not on purpose, only because I never had to.
Last evening when my wife came home, she walked in the house and said "Michael, your left rear tire is flat." (His real name is Beelzebub, but we call him Michael.) My heart sank. What would have happened if he'd had a flat while out on the road somewhere? He would have been pathetic, sitting there on the side of the road wondering which way the jack-thingy goes in, and what is this puny little tire doing in my trunk? So, I took it upon myself to teach Beelzebub, er, Michael, a lesson in basic automotive mechanics.
I became quite adept at changing tires when I was about his age. While I was in college, I used to work in Orlando on the weekends, and drive down from Gainesville on Fridays after class. Like any poor, starving college student, I could not afford good tires. So, I was on the frequent shopper plan at Big 10 tires, home of the $10 "re-cap". I'm pretty sure they're illegal now. These things were like a "circle of death". They generally lasted for no more than a 1000 miles, so, needless to say, I had more than my fair share of blowouts on Friday afternoons, or Sunday evenings. I got to where I could give a NASCAR crew a run for their money. Blowout, pull over, change tire, back on the road, elapsed time: two and half minutes, tops. So, I give you the following:
1. Get the vehicle to a safe, preferably level spot, and turn it off.
2. Firmly engage the parking brake.
3. Remove jack, lug wrench, and spare from trunk or wherever yours is stored.
4. Engage jack beneath the frame of the vehicle or along the slot near the wheelwell that the jack is designed to fit into.
5. Raise the jack to the point where weight is just starting to be taken off the tire/wheel.
6. Loosen the lugnuts with the tire iron/lug wrench, yes, "lefty-loosy".
7. Jack the car up enough to remove the flat tire, and remove it.
8. Replace with the puny little tire in the trunk.
9. Tighten the lugnuts "finger tight".
10. Lower the vehicle with the jack (that's right - turn the jack handle the opposite way) until there is some weight on the tire. Not all the way down, just enough to put weight on it.
11. Tighten the lugnuts with the tire iron/lugwrench by alternating opposite lugnuts, this will assure that it gets secured evenly. That's correct, "righty-tighty".
12. Lower the jack the rest of the way.
13. Be on your merry way.
What does this have to do with Baby Boomers and Gen Y'rs? Only that times have changed. In many ways, kids have it much easier than we did, but in some ways, it's more difficult for them. I know I wouldn't trade them. If I did, I probably wouldn't even know how to change a flat tire.
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