Secret Hero 12/18/22

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

The truth is that I’m old. That’s just a fact. I’m a few months away from my sixtieth birthday. Technically, I am a proverbial “boomer”. I’ve lamented that I’ll be alone for the rest of my life, but this is because I’ve been alone for so many years and I’m so old that there’s no way I could be flexible enough to accommodate a significant other. My back is in constant pain, I’ve had a triple bypass surgery, I’m just old. And I’m feeling it.

So, yes, my ways are old, too. But it’s not all bad. I grew up believing that you’d better take care of yourself, because nobody else will step in for you. Okay, my good friends have proven that teaching from my youth wrong, as several have stepped to the plate to keep me warm and dry when I needed it, but it’s still a lesson I live by. My grandfather was born in Germany (or was the first generation from my branch of the family to be born in America), and was abandoned in an orphanage when his parents couldn’t afford to keep him. He was a young teen, I’m told, so not only did he have that good Germanic upbringing of taking care of yourself, but to reinforce it, he was abandoned by his family. My grandfather taught my father how to be a good Germanic man, and my father taught me. Yeah, I’m old-fashioned.

Not in my attitude towards others, though. I’ve fought hard to shed the bigotry and judgment of people who live their lives differently from me. People don’t hurt others by living their lives in manners that make them happy, so why should others hurt them? For crying out loud, if they’re happier, it’s better for all of us.

But not all old ways are bad. Taking care of myself means, for example, getting additional car insurance in the form of an automobile club (you know the one I mean). They’re usually slow, but they are still reliable. When stuck on the side of the road, I can rest assured they’ll be there to tow or fix whatever is needed to get me back on the road. I’ve suggested this to several friends, and even bought gift memberships. I try not to rely on them, but my then-wife became a believer when she locked the keys in her door and they came out to retrieve them. In Boston, they towed me to a gas station on a wet and miserable night because, unbeknownst to me, the distributor cap got wet just from the moisture in the air.

One of the tires on my car has some kind of a slow leak. It seems as though it needs to be refilled far more often than the others. It seems to deflate down to 27 psi and stay there. This is not bad, and I’ll often drive it there, but because I like to take care of myself, I do carry a portable pump that plugs into the cigarette lighter. Yes, that thing on your car was originally intended to light cigarettes. Since I have two cars, I have two pumps. If I lose air on the road, and it can carry some pressure, it can get me to a gas station.

My friend had a similar problem with her vehicle. It held enough pressure that she could get it to the shop to get it fixed, but it got me to thinking about her and the time she spends on the road, so I went ahead and bought her one of these very impressive little pumps to carry in her car. But it never helped her. Tonight, though, it did help her daughter.

Apparently, and I don’t know the details, she met her daughter probably for lunch before the winter storm hits. Her daughter’s tire, however, was dangerously low (and another was also low but not as bad). So, they went to a gas station, and of course, the station’s pump wasn’t working.

As they pondered what to do (this is one of the friends with an automobile club membership at my recommendation), my friend suddenly realized that she had the pump I had given her in her vehicle. In less than fifteen minutes, they were on the road again with fully inflatable tires. Her daughter, on arriving home, immediately looked for the pump on an online store and was excited to buy one for herself. Now, she tells me, all of her daughters are thinking about getting one.

I needed this today. I’m bluer than a Smurf choking on a blueberry. I needed to feel like a hero.

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