Apparently I Look Like a Damsel in Distress

I am 44 years old, and I have never had to change a flat tire. I’ve had three flats on my car and now one on my bike, and every time a stranger appears out of nowhere and jumps right in and changes my tire for me. Does this mean I have the look of a damsel in distress?

I’ve always attributed the first two times this occurred to being of an age that matches the word “Damsel”.

When I was still in high school, I remember being so flustered by the flat tire that the gentleman who stopped to help me was mostly done by the time I realized what he was doing.

Another time I had a flat on my car when I was an undergrad. That time, I had at least a theoretical understanding of what I was supposed to do, and while I was peering under the car to try to figure out where to place the jack, another car pulled up that was full to bursting with a Hispanic family.

The dad jumped out and basically just took over and changed the tire for me while I watched and tried to figure out what was Spanish for “I have things under control.” I finally settled for, “Muchas gracias.”

After that, I signed up for AAA.

The only time I’ve ever wanted a man to come to my rescue, it was mainly because I was in a car full of his children. And said knight in shining armor refused to come help me.

I had two screaming toddlers in the car and was late for an appointment. But when I called my partner to get him to come at least pick up the kids for me while I called with AAA, he refused and said to just use the can of some stuff called “Fix-a-flat” which he had placed in the trunk of the car in case of emergencies.

I was furious until I saw that the Fix-a-Flat filled up the tire with air just like inflating a helium balloon.

Awesome stuff, relationship saved, self-confidence restored.


This week, I found I had a flat tire on my bike, which lately is my daily mode of transportation to and from work.

I knew that if I was going to be biking to work every day, a flat tire was going to happen eventually. So I was prepared with a replacement inner tube, a small pump and a kit with bike repair tools.

There I was, sitting in the stairwell at my office building and browsing YouTube for a suitable how-to video, when lo and behold, another nice gentleman sees my situation, and…

Fixes my flat tire for me.

Yes, I really appreciated this. I realized in watching him that there is a very fiddly part of the process that involves removing the chain from the back sprocket. Fiddly, and filthy, actually, so I’m really really really thankful that he took care of this for me.

But I still don’t know how to do it myself because watching and doing are very different things.

So I have 3 takeaways from this:

  1. I may have an undiscovered superpower in which I project an appearance of complete helplessness that leaves people of the male persuasion helpless to resist.
  2. If I want to do something myself, I can still say, “No thank you, I prefer to do this myself.” (In Spanish this is, “No gracias, prefiero hacer esto yo mismo.”)
  3. I should be more proactive about things and practice taking the darn tire off and putting it back on again at home once or twice. (Duh.)