Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit
Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated
Articles by Dr. Friedman (except where noted otherwise)
A Flat, No Lug Wrench
Author UnknownRetold and Adapted by Will J. Friedman
2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
A salesman, driving on a lonely country road one dark and rainy night, had a flat. He opened the trunkno lug wrench. The light from a farmhouse could be seen dimly up the road.
He set out on foot through the driving rain. Surely the farmer would have a lug wrench he could borrow, he thought. Of course, it was late at nightthe farmer would be asleep in his warm, dry bed. Maybe he wouldn't answer the door. And even if he did, he'd be angry at being awakened in the middle of the night.
The salesman, picking his way blindly in the dark, stumbled on. By now his shoes and clothing were soaked. Even if the farmer did answer his knock, he would probably shout something like, "What's the big idea waking me up at this hour!" This thought made the salesman angry. What right did that farmer have to refuse him the loan of a lug wrench? After all, here he was stranded in the middle of nowhere, soaked to the skin. The farmer was a selfish clodno doubt about that! The salesman finally reached the house, and banged loudly on the door. A light went on inside, and a window opened above. "Who is it?" a voice called out.
"You know darn well who it is," yelled the salesman, his face white with anger. "It's me! You can keep your blasted lug wrench. I wouldn't borrow it now if you had the last one on earth!"
While this story abruptly ends here, curiosity grabs the best of us. I wonder about the rest of the story. I figure it continued something like this: "Now, just quiet down, ya young whippersnapper! I don't need a pile of your horsepucky at this hour. Now come on in, sit a spell and let's get you dry and something warm in ya. I've got lug wrenches a-plenty, no worry there." With this, the farmer opened the screen door and handed the salesman a large towel to dry himself.
The salesman grumbled something about being sorry, but the farmer just heated up the kettle and made him something hot like soup or coffee. As the salesman caught his breath, became dryer and got the hot drink down, his emotional tempest passed. The farmer drove him back and even helped hold an umbrella while he changed the flat tire.
In shaking hands and thanking the farmer, the salesman smiled and said, "You know, you're a right fine fellow. I guess my fears got the better of me. Well, now it's time for me to tame my mind! Being a salesman, I won't sell me; I know better than that. I'll just help me buy that in rotten situations all will work out fine, until shown otherwise."
The farmer, barely showing a grin, answered, "I'll buy that!"
This retelling and expansion of a popular rural legend portrays how our very best thinking lands us in the mess we're in. One of the most famous of Walt Kelly's Pogo cartoons pictures the possum Pogo looking forlornly, carrying a bag and stick pin, looking at a forest strewn with human garbage, and thinking, "We have met the enemy and he is us." Fear is anticipating the worst will happen through a misuse of our imagination. I've often thought that the phrase to "cut off your nose to spite your face" must have derived from just this. It's also true that forewarned is forearmed and we can always change our minds, can't we?
© Copyright 2013 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
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