Ladies, Start your Engines!

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Flat tire, by Alicia Nijdam

I found myself in a very unusual situation today. One that revealed to me how sometimes, we create our own vulnerability (want to read more about this? Check out this amazing blog post about women’s vulnerability and what men can do about it). This situation involved me, two friends, and a flat tire.

I had joined a couple of good friends for lunch today. Both these women are strong, capable, and intelligent. As we left the restaurant, one friend noticed the other’s car tire was flat. First thought in my mind was “she probably has a spare, no problem, she can just change the tire and be on her way. Only takes about 10 minutes”. Here is where I encountered how we create our own vulnerability. Both of these women looked absolutely panicked. One asked the other “do you have AMA?”, “I don’t know”, was the reply.  So I, assuming maybe the car didn’t have a spare asked “well, don’t you have a spare? You can just change it here.”  Neither of them knew how to change the tire. Didn’t really have an idea of where to start. Here is where I thank my father (and today, I think my friend did too!).

As a girl, growing up, my Dad insisted I learn how to do some basic car mechanics. If I was going to own a car, I had to know how to look after it. MYSELF. Change tires, check oil levels, change the oil, change the spark plugs, know where all the fluids go in the car, and have a basic understanding of how it all works. This gave me confidence, that, if I had a flat, the car started running weird, etc. I would know how to look after it until I could get it into a shop. And here, I now believe, I took a step towards reducing my vulnerability.

Picture two scenarios. Both start the same. Woman A: Car gets a flat. She pulls over on the side of the road. Takes out the spare, jacks up the car, changes the tire, gets back on the road. Adventure over. Woman B: Car gets a flat. She pulls over on the side of the road. Calls AMA (as long as her cell phone is charged or remembered). And waits, and waits, and waits. Insert vulnerability. Here is a lone woman, probably looking worried or scared, alone, on the side of the road. Sure, you can lock your car doors, but if some creep is looking for trouble, you are now one seriously easy target.

Now, I REALLY don’t believe in fear mongering. At all. But perhaps this is because I don’t see myself as an overly vulnerable woman. And I think this has a lot to do with the skills I was taught by my Dad. So, ladies (and any men who don’t know how to do this either). Step up. Grab a jack and a spare. Check out this quick You Tube video, and teach yourself how to change a tire. Hell, while you’re at it, how about some of those repairs around the house that have been waiting. Stand proud, with a hammer in one hand, and a car jack in the other. And take back some of that innate vulnerability. And if your car gets a flat while full of kids? Well, you’ll be even happier that you did.

*photo by Alicia Nijdam, found at Creative Commons,

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