Flat tires a dreaded highway hassle

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There is no good time to have a flat tire.

Regardless of when they occur, flat tires are almost always at the most inconvenient times.

No one has ever uttered and really meant the words, “Hey, this would be a good time to have a flat tire.”

The only time they might be considered a good thing is if you are looking for a way to kill a couple of hours of your time, spend some extra money you had lying around and get mad in the process.

While flat tires are more potentially dangerous for those who drive race cars, tractor-trailers or family vehicles on the interstate while on vacation, a flat can be just as much trouble and inconvenience even when it happens while on a simple trip only two blocks from your house.

Although some can be more dangerous than others, like a blowout on a dark rain-slickened road in the mountains at night, all are still a nuisance.

Most people have experienced a flat tire at some point, so we are familiar with that sinking feeling when we learn we have developed a flat.

Further, there is no sure way to prevent flat tires other than maybe not driving through a construction site where thousands of nails are lying around.

Even that does not provide a foolproof guarantee that a flat won’t happen to you.

I experienced two flat tires this past week, neither of which was extremely serious, but they were just inconvenient enough to louse up a good portion of two days.

Car manufacturers in earlier years always included a jack, a lug wrench or, as some call it, a “tar tool” along with a spare tire and a rim with all new cars delivered.

No longer is that the case.

Many automakers, apparently in an effort to save a few bucks, have stopped including any tools or either a real spare tire or one of those embarrassing, undersized imitations about the size of a large doughnut and designed to go just a few miles.

It used to be a fairly common sight to see a driver stopped by the side of the road trying to change a tire, but not much anymore.

Tire-changing episodes today have evolved into more like social events with large groups gathered around a crippled vehicle with a flat tire alongside a highway and usually with only one person actively involved in the changing process.

It is possible to find rather weak examples of humor in having a flat.

I was only able to find a couple of flat tire jokes which are: “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You won’t go anywhere in life until you change it,” and “It’s not flat all over, just on the bottom.”

One of the funnier parts of the movie “A Christmas Story,” the one that plays multiple times on television every holiday season, occurs when the 9-year-old Ralphie character gets a chance to help his father fix a flat when the family car suffers a blowout during a trip to buy a Christmas tree.

Ralphie’s father predicted he could change the tire in just a couple of minutes, but that didn’t happen when Ralphie spilled the lug nuts he had placed in the hubcap, causing him to use some ugly language his father had never heard him use before.

The only other time I recall a flat tire being the main subject occurring on screen was in a television episode of “Perry Mason.”

Keith Barnes, a Wilson storyteller and author, is news editor of the Kenly News, where this column originally appeared.