First came a whoosh of air, then a rubbery thud as the tire inflated and hit the rim. My almost-bald tires were history and new tread to pull my car through snow awaited the road.
I once knew how to work the equipment that the folks at Bud’s Service wield, decades ago, but I’ve long lost those skills.
Without people knowing how to do things we don’t know how to do, life in this fast-paced modern world would be filled with trouble and pain. As a matter of fact, most of us would be darn near helpless.
This matters as a nation divided by politics enters the heart of the holiday season. It’s a cold hard fact, we need each other no matter how each of us voted back in November.
Life wasn’t always like this. People have always needed each other a little bit.
But not so long ago a person raised on a farm doing chores knew how to garden, raise crops, feed cattle, carpenter, wire electric lights, check the gaps on spark plugs in the car, plus graduate from college and hold down a day job that required basic writing, arithmetic and good manners. The Greatest Generation crossed a gap between horse-drawn wagons and men walking on the moon.
But the changes are even more complicated now.
Raise your hands if you’ve taken your computer to a specialty shop to have the viruses removed and the software issues straightened out. Do you feel lost until your portal to the world is restored? Who here among us knows how to build a cell phone from scratch?
Some people do manage to live off the land. Their log cabin is heated by firewood cut with saw and ax. Fish and meat are supplemented by a vegetable garden and some staples from town. Although I suppose they do need bullets and fishing lures from town, they’re pretty independent, but they live in Alaska, not Platte County.
I suppose I could pluck a chicken, butcher a hog and carve up a beef steer if I had more time and a sharper knife. But it’s sure easier to buy meat at a grocery store that also carries thousands of items that people all over the nation have grown, harvested, canned or put in boxes. Even at the checkout line, where people operate cash registers connected to satellites and computers that I don’t know how to work, their speed and politeness is all that matters to me, not politics.
Home remedies and herbal medicines have their place, but I’m sure grateful for an experienced pharmacist and his well-trained helpers.
Dial 911 if your house is on fire.
People will come who have far more gear than a garden hose and lots of training. Did you ever dial the same number for medical help for a loved one and feel the relief when the ambulance and paramedics arrived?
Let a family’s sewer lines back up, and they’ll soon discover some of the most important people in the world are plumbers. Ditto the furnace repair expert in the dead of winter.
Not all the world’s fixers focus on basic necessities.
I recently spent hours tinkering with a mandolin and trying to fix an odd problem involving wires and wood. Perplexed, I took it to the dusty shop of a friend who has given his life to repairing and adjusting musical instruments. He had the problem figured out in about 15 minutes, moved a component into its proper location, and I was back in the mandolin playing business.
Expertise is a wonderful thing.
Did you ever try to hold the attention of 20 to 30 youngsters, plus get them excited about learning something new? I have and it’s not easy. Not everyone has the skill and patience to be a teacher.
I can pump my own gas, play my own music and grow a few tomatoes in the garden, but for most of what whirls around me, I’m dependent on others to keep life at a standard I enjoy. This is true around the world.
My son has brought home from college two fellow students, a young man from Nepal and another from China. They are sharing our house for Christmas. They are polite, well mannered, curious about America, computer savvy and quick on the draw with a cell phone.
Does that sound familiar?
We are more alike than different in Platte County or the world. In this season and in these times, we need each other.
Merry Christmas to all, and may the tow truck find you if your car engines stalls.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.