Liberty Mutual ads may promote mutually assured destruction

You’ve probably seen the commercial: A teenage boy stands sheepishly next to his mom, somewhere off of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty prominent in the background. And as so often is the case when you’re visiting a historic landmark, they want to talk about insurance.

In this case, the mom tells us how Liberty Mutual Insurance’s roadside assistance plan helped when her incompetent, pathetic loser of a son (I’m paraphrasing here), couldn’t figure out how to change a flat tire.

Am I too “old school” or is changing a flat tire a prerequisite for manhood?

I watch the commercial and worry for the future. In 10 years, this teenager will be among the Americans defending us if North Korea attacks, (“Hello, Liberty Mutual? Yes, how do you shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile?”)

It also bothers me because I’m the least manly person I know, and even I know how to change a flat.

First you pop open the hood. That doesn’t have anything to do with the tire, but it always makes me feel more masculine.

Then you look closely at the engine. For two reasons: it looks like you’re doing something productive, plus, the longer you stare at the engine, the more likely a stranger is to stop and help you. Or beat and rob you. It could go either way.

Next you’ll pop the trunk, where you’ll find the jack, lug wrench, and three boxes of clothes you’ve been meaning to drop off at Goodwill since February.

After slipping off the flat and putting on the spare, you tighten the nuts. Keep in mind you should replace the tire immediately and only drive on the spare for 30 miles, or until your next payday.

It’s simple and basic, and all men used to know how to do this. Now we’re becoming wimpier, less self-reliant. My dad taught me how to change the oil. I’m worried the only thing I’ll teach my son is how to clip out a Grease Monkey coupon.

In the 1880s, my great-grandpa Beauregard came to Colorado in a covered wagon devoid both of air conditioning and Sirius satellite radio. If one of the wooden tires broke down on a 105 degree day, they did not smile and hug each other while calling Liberty Mutual roadside assistance. That’s because cellphone coverage was very spotty back then.

No, instead, they either fixed the wheel or made a spontaneous decision that the place they broke down was a perfectly fine place to live. We Coloradoans brag about our pioneer heritage but in reality our state was founded by people too lazy to get to California.

But not my great grandpa. Among his many skills, he built violins from scratch. Only he was poor so he called them fiddles.

With not much more than a knife and wire, he’d take a chunk of wood, from which would emerge an exquisite musical instrument.

I thought of him as I was Googling, “How to fix a running toilet.”

Last Saturday, I stupidly attempted a rudimentary plumbing repair. After three hours, two trips to True Value and one Band-Aid (don’t ask), I flung the wrench, and said several bad words before calling a plumber.

A few months earlier, a good 45 minutes were spent on YouTube figuring out how to assemble a backyard trampoline that already had instructions and all of the parts sent to me.

My great-grandpa didn’t have instructions on how to turn the chunk of wood into a fiddle. If so, they would have read:

■ Get large chunk of wood

■ Carve a fiddle

My point is he and prior generations built things. Real things. Fiddles. Chairs. Engines. Houses even. The only thing I create are Microsoft Word documents.

Am I as pathetic as the kid in the ad? And is this OK in 2017?

All I know is that the commercial concludes with mom and son hugging, and smiling at each other in a way that almost makes me vomit. When I was a teenage boy, I didn’t want to be seen with my mom at Mesa Mall, nevermind standing next to her on national TV as she tells everyone how wimpy I am.

So something has to be done. As a nation we’re becoming soft and self-reliance is missing. We, as a society, have to fix this problem and soon. I’m exactly not sure how. Maybe we should call Liberty Mutual.

Reach Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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