One day a couple of summers ago, I had to deliver hay to a new customer. I found the place and ran around the circle driveway to get into position to unload. As soon as I got out of the truck and went to unhook my straps (Remember, class, batten down those hatches when hauling hay!!!), I heard a familiar sound. It was a massive displacement of air from one of my trailer tires. Looking around at the general cleanliness of the place, it wasn’t hard to believe I had punctured a tire.
After unloading the bales, I got in my truck and headed toward home. Instead of turning off Highway 9, I kept going straight into Cresco. My destination was Hanson Tire, my friendly Goodyear dealer. Murphy’s Law being what it is, my flat tire was an inside dual on my tandem axle trailer. I figured it was just as easy to let the professionals fix my flat as have me mess around with all the jacks and tools at home.
The staff at Hanson’s had become very familiar lately. Within the last three days, I had come in to the dealer with a flat tire on my truck, a flat on my dad’s truck, and a tire from my four-wheeler. So for the fourth time in a week I pulled into Hanson’s and backed up to my regular door. Tom recognized the sound of my truck and began to open the overhead door before I was out of the truck. I announced my latest problem and he gathered his equipment with a smirk. He had me set up and ready to hit the road in no time. Practice makes perfect, I guess.
As I pulled into the yard at home, I noticed a fire down the road. We’d had a tornado in 1994 and had tons of fallen trees and brush that had been piled in an abandoned rock quarry ever since. For some reason, Guy No. 1 had decided that today’s weather was ideal for a brush fire. He’d lit the whole mess and had a good blaze going. To keep it going, he was using the tractor and loader to push the brush into a more compact pile.
Somewhere in the brush pile, he found part of a cattle panel. Actually, the sidewall of the front tractor tire found it. Not more than five minutes after I got to my desk, my niece walked into my office and said, “Dad says he needs you to go to Hanson’s. He has a flat tire on the tractor.”
I went out to the machine shed where longtime staffer Lorne, Guy No. 1, and the tractor were. There, protruding from the tire was a length of cattle panel about a foot long. The familiar hiss of air filled the building. GN1 had raised the front end of the tractor off the ground. He grabbed the panel piece and demonstrated how the hissing stopped when he held the panel at just the right angle, not quite flush with the sidewall. “If we pull this out, it’ll go flat in about a minute. But, ya know, if we hold it like this, it doesn’t even leak.” With that, he reached for the ultimate guy solution.
With surgical finesse, he took lengths of duct tape and wove them through the rim of the tire and attached it to the piece of cattle panel. Next thing I knew, he had wrapped the tire about six times with duct tape. There wasn’t a peep out of the tire! “If we pump it up good, that should get it to Hanson’s,” he declared. It was now 4:38 and Hanson’s was four miles away.
We held discussions over just who would be driving this cobbled mess through Cresco, on the highway, to the west side of town before Hanson’s closed at 5:00. No volunteers stepped forward, but several nominations were made. Just then, The Chairman Emeritus drove in. We encouraged him to volunteer. No dice. Finally, I said I’d do it, because I had a hunch.
We filled the tire with air and I drove off. I made my way through town, getting caught at both stoplights. Finally, I pulled into Hanson’s. I drove up to my now-regular door and found no one around. The staff eventually showed up, but the overhead door was still closed. The first one on the scene was a younger staff member. I told him I had a tire that needed to be changed and asked if I should back in the shop. He obliged and proceeded to open the door. Just then, Tom walked in and said, “You again!? What the heck is it this time?”
I told Tom he’d love this one and I’d be right back. The door went up and I backed into the shop. As soon as I got out of the cab, Tom was already standing next to the tire with an impish grin on his face. Before he could give me any crap, I grabbed the protruding panel section and demonstrated our engineering marvel. Next, I told them about the nomination process for selecting who got to drive it to Cresco. “Tommy, I told them you guys would probably expect something like this from me!”
Tom started to laugh uncontrollably and agreed that nothing I do surprises them anymore. It’s my job to raise the threshold for amazement. Life is graded on a curve and I’m not looking to flunk.
Guy No. 2