You may have noticed that almost all of my posts are prompted by other people’s blogs. Oh, well, I’ll take my inspiration where I can get it.
This morning, I read Sonora Sage’s description of her recent roadside encounter with Mr. and Mrs. All-American while changing a flat tire. Although she appreciated Mr. All-American’s help loosening the lugnuts (once he figured out the “righty tighty, lefty loosey” part, that is), she didn’t appreciate his obvious belief that she could never have managed the job on her own, and Mrs. All-American’s simultaneous performance as the clueless female. Nonetheless, Mr. All-American insisted on doing the job himself. (Hmmm, where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah, now, I remember. That was the way I lived most of my life, having learned at my daddy’s knee — he never really sat me on his knee, but I wish he had — that “if you want the job done right, do it yourself.”) Anyway, Sonora’s story prompted memories of a somewhat similar experience of my own, which I left as a comment on her post and which I am sharing here (with a couple of minor edits) for those who might not find their way to her blog.
I encountered some of the same attitude myself awhile back, although, in my case, the roles were reversed: I was the (would-be) rescuer, Mr. and Mrs. All-American, and their All-American son, were the ones in need of help.
During most of my years growing up, my dad owned a Jeep (then virtually the only 4WD vehicles available in the States) and we spent many hours bouncing down back roads, climbing hills and getting stuck (and, eventually, unstuck). And I’ve owned my own 4WD vehicles for 15+ years just so I can go where other people aren’t, primarily at the ends of northern and central Arizona’s many rocky roads. Although I haven’t done as much of that since my transition, I still enjoy it when I get the chance.
A little over a year ago, I was in Tucson for a workshop. I’ve been down there for these workshops before and on my way back I like to find a different way home that inevitably involves some amount of “4-wheeling.” This time I decided to drive to the top of Mt. Lemmon and down the other side to Oracle. My friend Alison in Tucson warned me that the road was really rough, but I found it not particularly challenging. (In fact, it can probably be done without 4WD as long as you have decent ground clearance and know how to negotiate your way around the high spots.)
I had gone perhaps 5 miles down the dirt road on the back (north) side of Mt. Lemmon, when I came upon an SUV (i.e., one of those vehicles that have 4WD but are clearly not made to drive off the pavement) stopped by the side of the road. Mr. All-American appeared to be about to start changing a tire, while Mrs. All-American and young All-American son watched. Growing up, I learned that you never pass by someone in possible need of help in the backcountry without stopping and doing what you can to help, since you never know when you’ll be the one in need of rescue. Feeling quite smug in both my driving skills and my ability to change a tire, I stopped, rolled down my window and asked Mr. All-American if he needed any help. The look on his face in response clearly said that he had no idea what a woman could possibly do to help him and wondered what in the hell a woman was doing driving down this remote road all by herself anyway? (I suspect there was also a bit of hurt male pride to see me safely negotiating the road, when he couldn’t, a feeling I had no interest in alleviating.) In any case, he said, no thanks, and I went on.
As your Mr. All-American told you, I’ve changed my share of flat tires, as I’m sure you have too. So, my Mr. All-American got to save face in front of his wife and son, but was left on the narrow roadside to fend for himself. Oh, well, his loss.
BTW, if you ever get a chance to take that drive, please do. It’s beautiful, especially as you get lower down above Oracle where there are fields of bear grass waving in the wind.
Thanks for the memory, Sonora. I hope you get those new tires soon, that is, unless you want to repeat your fake “damsel in distress” scenario to see who stops the next time. :-)