I am a woman who likes to be taken care of–an admission I realize I’m not supposed to fess up to as an independent 21st-century woman. It’s not that I need to be taken care of; I’m perfectly capable of doing that myself. Instead it’s something I want.
Today, I exited my office at around 3:30 to make a quick run to pick up Gym Girl and get her to practice. I usually don’t make this run, but I needed to because the girl who usually drives her was busy with graduation events. I hopped in the car, put it into reverse and immediately realized “something is drastically wrong here.” A quick check revealed the back passenger-side tire was completely flat. So, I called Adventure Guy. After all, flat tires are the reason cell phones, roadside assistance, and husbands were invented.
Now Adventure Guy and I have a mixed history regarding my perceived need for rescuing and his inclination to provide such services. This is the man who went along to rescue someone else’s wife during the 1992 Houston floods when I was trapped on the opposite side of I-10 from where we lived. His comment when I arrived home from work at 9:30 p.m. rather than my usual 4:00 p.m.? “Oh, I knew you could take care of yourself, so I wasn’t worried.” And, I know deep down that this attitude does not reflect a lack of caring, as it might appear to on the surface, but instead really does reflect his deep respect for me and my abilities.
Fortunately, today’s event was much less critical than historic flood levels. Adventure Guy offered to come and help me change my tire, but I rose to the occasion and said I’d check with my Cingular roadside assistance plan first. He helped by looking up the number I was supposed to call, and I kept him updated on the progress. I am happy to report that the roadside assistance was prompt and effective, and I was also able to take the tire in to a local shop for repair prior to having to be at the gym to pick up Gym Girl (I had arranged another ride for her to get there in the first place!).
I’m pleased with the evolution of Adventure Guy’s and my relationship in this area and our avoidance of any conflict over this particular event. I did find it amusing to observe the actions of the various other men whom I encountered during this particular escapade. First, my boss offered to change my tire (and meant it) and then, after I assured him that help was on the way, recommended the tire shop I ended up taking the tire to as being “good, fast, and cheap.” He felt comfortable enough with my explained plan of action to head home without checking up on me further. The next man who arrived was a teacher from another one of the district’s school sites. I know him, but not well. He also immediately offered to help me change the tire. We were talking when the roadside assistance guy arrived, and he wandered on off but stood across the parking lot to watch the process from afar. Two of our young teachers then arrived to check out what was happening. Both said they would have been happy to help me change the tire but also seemed relieved that the work was well underway. They stood around with me watching and making sure all was set before leaving.
I should mention that one woman recognized that it was my car that had a flat and came in to make sure I knew. I also had two offers of assistance from female colleagues. One offered to call her AAA service for me, and the other, whom I’ll call Farm Girl, offered to take care of it for me herself. She once jumped my battery for me and changes her own oil, so I had full faith in her ability. As I did with my boss, though, I assured her that I had it covered. None of the three women seemed to feel any inclination to “check up” on my progress with the flat as most of the men did.
So the lesson for today? As I’ve always known, I am capable of solving problems like this on my own. And, as I now know, I also have plenty of people willing to back me up if I need a little help along the way.