Somethin’ bout a truck gettin’ towed down the street


Editor’s Note: Views expressed in guest columns and letters to the editor reflect the views of the author, not the views of The State News.

As I watched my truck slowly elevate into the back of the tower’s flatbed yesterday afternoon, only two thoughts seemed to pass through my head.

The first was how uncomfortable the next phone call with my mom was going to be.

For almost a month now, my truck — a handed down 2005 Ford F-150 — has been anchored in my driveway, taking up roughly two parking spots and being the center of conflict between me and my roommates.

As someone who likes to avoid conflict, the idea of telling my mom about the condition of my truck seemed foolish.

Since the vehicle already was immobile — and rooted safely in the comfort of my driveway — what good would telling my mom about the problem solve? Instead of listening to my mother sigh heavily on the phone, call me “Gregory” and offer to drive down and stay in East Lansing for the night, I decided to take matters into my own hands and figure out the situation for myself.

Needless to say, that plan fell through.

But as unsettling as the idea of talking to my mom was, the second thought I couldn’t shake from my head was how much I didn’t feel like a man because of this predicament.

As a guy, there are certain talents you’re expected to pick up by the time you reach a certain age.

From knowing what tool fixes the random appliance that breaks in your house to figuring out the reasons your car won’t start, these skills are presumed to be inherent abilities that — as if by some magical way — you wake up and possess.

But as I stood in my driveway yesterday — doing little more than holding a wrench for the person under my car and collecting the snowflakes that fell on my shoulders — I realized I somehow had missed the boat.

In the weeks leading up to my truck breaking down, I had done more to help my situation besides keeping jumper cables in my car and using them each time I needed to go somewhere.

And as horrible of an idea as this obviously was, the most depressing aspect of this was it represented the only knowledge I had about trying to fix a car.

Although I knew the only answer to my problem would be found from an expensive trip to the repair shop, a part of me didn’t want to go.

As I watched the small army of service men and tow trucks gather in front of my house and do everything they could to move the rooted object that was my car, I couldn’t help but be jealous of each of their talents.

If this had happened to one of them, they wouldn’t need to call anyone to come bail them out of the situation.

If this had happened to one of them, they could figure out a way to open up the hood of their car, move some parts around and get their car moving without ever having to contact their moms and any point in between.

But as depressing as this situation might seem, it doesn’t have to be looked at as entirely being bad.

In a week, my truck will be fixed and this event will remain a point in my life when I went out of my way to avoid doing what had to be done.

But maybe realizing this is a more important lesson about being a man than anything else I could take away from it.

By the time my truck is returned, I already will have had the conversation with my mom I have been dreading since yesterday afternoon. She most likely already will have spent some amount of time being disappointed in her son, but ultimately — like always — she will figure out some way to move on.

Although this still doesn’t validate putting off telling my mom about the car, I think it speaks volumes for what being a man actually means.

No matter how much I try, I most likely will never in my life have the skill set required to fix any part of my car that happens to break down.

I most likely will never be able to tell you the difference between certain wrenches you might find in a tool box and I might even need some help getting rid of a bug that makes its way into my house.

But that’s all right.

Being a man doesn’t always mean you have the skills to do each of these things, but the maturity it takes to seek out help during the times when you need it most.

Although watching my car get dragged down the street was an especially humbling lesson for a 22-year-old to learn, it serves as the first of many things I still have to learn about growing up.

Now I think I’ll just wait until after spring break to show my mom the bill.

Greg Olsen is the opinion writer at The State News and a professional writing senior. Reach him at

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