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Updated on Monday and Thursday.
"I knew nothing, and I persisted in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past."

— Stanislaw Lem, Solaris

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Monday, December 20th, 2004

I got a call Monday evening from Laura. She was half a mile from her house and had gotten a flat, and was stuck in the parking lot of a local business. Police advised her that she should get the car moved by morning and they gave her a ride home, but were of little other help. It was a horribly cold night and she was calling to let me know that she was going back out to change the tire and would be a little late...

I must admit that when she called and assured me she could handle it herself, I was inclined to leave it at that. Outside was bitter cold, I was relaxing after an overtime day, and Laura is capable, intelligent and resourceful. I wanted it to be true that I could just relax, tend to my own knitting, and that I would see her in about an hour...

But in addition to the Guy Code, in which leaving your girlfriend to change a tire under a streetlamp in Piscataway on a frigid night by herself is simply Not Done, I knew it would be horrible to perform such a task alone, and I would not inflict that on anyone I cared about. So off I went on the half-hour drive to Piscataway.

As events turned out, her car jack was missing, and the donut tire, which was supposed to be inflated to 60 psi, had leaked its way to 15... If she had simply replaced the tire and tried to make the trip to Green Village (which she told me later was her intent) she likely would not have made it. Getting stuck with a flat and no spare on Route 287 can be worse than death, even if it's not exactly equivalent to it. As it was, I supplied my car's jack, and we inflated the donut sufficiently to get her car back to her apartment.

Laura and I are firmly rooted in our times and have little concern for traditional roles. She was perhaps as embarrassed to think of herself as the damsel in distress as I was to be the gallant knight. I'm not sure that such labels are appropriate - can't one friend help another in a time of stressful emergency without making gender calculations? - but the fact remains that we were both thinking of it.

It would have been quite easy for both of us to go the politically correct route and ignore the underlying situation - friends don't let friends change tires at 13°F, alone at night. The result that matters is we're both safe and warm tonight, so I'm glad we were able to be 'traditional' when it was called for...

Note: Most of the text on this page written by JJA, edited a little by Laura.

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