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Stubborn? Who, Me?

Ever heard someone use the analogy, “He’s so stupid, his picture belongs in the dictionary next to the definition,” or something similar? Well, when it comes to the word stubborn, I have to admit, my likeness would not totally be out of place beside Webster’s thorough explanation.

Now, some folks may view stubbornness as a blessing in disguise, while others might deem it a hardship. Those who choose to label my trait as a blessing likely also regard it as perseverance. Compared to stubborn, persevere seems to have a more positive ring to it. I’d like to believe that’s what I do––persevere. To be honest, however–– and my wife of many years will verify this–– stubborn better fits my character.

To prove that notion, consider the day I decided to dismount and re-mount my pickup truck’s spare tire––by hand. I’m not just talking about winching it down from the frame and then back again. I mean removing the rubber doughnut from the steel rim and then replacing it with a completely different tire.

The obvious questions that may come to readers’ minds: Why on earth, would I have even thought about tackling such a task? Was it because I had a flat and there were no repair facilities open, and I really needed the vehicle? Or was it because I couldn’t afford to have the job done at a tire shop––or didn’t believe they’d correctly perform the work? Or was I just that cheap?

If readers desire a truly logical answer to any of those inquiries, they should probably stop reading. But if perusers care to learn a stubborn man’s perspective, please continue. And by the way, I prefer frugal over cheap, thank you.

My example was initiated after the morning I’d backed over the front of our car with my truck––another story for another time. As a result, the spare tire mounted beneath the pickup bed had lost its pressure. Initially unaware of the situation, I drove the truck that way for several weeks. In the meantime, hundreds of tiny stones and debris had accumulated around the steel rim, some wedging between the edge of the rim and the tire’s bead area. Moisture seeped in as well and had formed a rusty crust on the metal. Adding more air pressure alone would no longer re-inflate and reseal the spare. The tire would have to be removed, the rim cleaned, and a tire re-installed.

Compared to the wheel and tire combinations supporting the four corners of the truck at the time, the deflated spare also was too small, but I’d been in no hurry to correct that minor issue either––which must mean I’m an optimist, too. When I’d replaced the truck’s four tires months earlier, however, I had the forethought to request that the tire tech save the least-worn ‘retiree’ and toss it in the pickup bed for a properly sized spare. Because I was on a tight schedule that day, I also told the tech that “I’d take care of the spare later.” Little did I know how my comment would lead to the birth of an ill-conceived, stubborn idea.

The day to experience my half-baked notion finally arrived. It was a clear, warm, cloudless Saturday morning that would be perfect for tire swapping. I’d removed the deflated spare from the truck and had commenced to pry, stomp, and cuss, but without success. Thirty years in the automotive service industry had taught me that safety beads built into both the rim and the tire were not designed to separate with the touch of a toe––unless that toe happened to be pressing the pedal on a tire machine. For some reason, however, I’d sidestepped that wisdom and focused on sheer determination––another kinder, gentler term for stubbornness.

After standing back and glaring at the spare, a thought came to mind. In my youth, I’d watched my neighbor employ an old mechanic’s trick to separate a tire from a rim. As I recalled the incident, a smile graced my lips. Surely my neighbor’s technique would work for me, too.

I grabbed the uncooperative spare, flopped it on the driveway, and lined it up with one of my truck’s front wheels. Ever so carefully, I drove forward and squashed the pressureless tire but the safety beads didn’t separate. Following three more attempts without success, my heightened confidence became as deflated as the spare.

It’s the stubborn man who eyes predicaments like this and, rather than toss in the towel, always looks for one more method to try––one more tool to use. When that doesn’t work, we look for one more, and then another, and another. So it was with me.

A jack handle and my largest screwdriver shared the limelight in my next inspiration. Following more prying, stomping, and cussing, plus a few nicks on my knuckles, a gap finally spread between the tire bead and the rim. This tiny bit of encouragement was the kind of spark that motivates all stubborn folks to press on. Around the rim I cussed and pried until “Eureka!” the tire conceded to my tenacity.

Once the rim was free, cleaning the rust and polishing the steel surface took only a few more minutes. With the aid of my motorcycle tire tools and a bit of homemade tire lube––a.k.a. dishwashing liquid––the properly sized doughnut slipped onto the rim without much trouble. I was on a roll. A shot of compressed air and the tire beads popped into place. At thirty PSI, there were no signs of leakage. The spare was ready to hoist into place. My stubbornness and I had faced another battle, fought well, and won.

Now, readers may reiterate, ‘But why did you endure all that trouble and aggravation when you didn’t have to?’

I’ll reply by responding to the previous questions first. No, it wasn’t too late in the day. Several nearby repair shops were indeed open. No, I did not have an immediate need for the spare. And, yes, I had the financial means to pay a technician to perform the task much quicker, easier, and––as witnessed by the scrapes on my knuckles––safer, too. But where’s the challenge––the reward––in that?

So, why had I engaged in something as potentially frustrating as mounting an automotive tire by hand? I suppose I could use the mountain climbers’ standard answer: because it was there. Instead, I’ll cop-out with one word: Heredity. It’s in my genes. And simply, once an idea strikes a person with stubborn genes, they seldom let it go. Four generations of stubbornness in my family––likely more that I’ve never met––and we’re still going strong.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

*** Illustration by the author

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