Sunday, August 07, 2005


When I was driving home this evening, around 7:30 I got a flat. I'm really lucky that I didn't get into an accident -- I was after all on a highway and going 70 miles an hour and at that point, I was actually in the left lane. There were no cars to my right, so I was able to pull immediately over to the side and assess the situation. The front driver's side tire was very, very, very flat, the flabby rubber bulging out at the bottoms. I just stared at the tire and then walked to my trunk and hauled out the jack, the stand, and my spare tire. Then I picked up my cell, called my dad, and then after talking to him briefly, found the number for roadside assistance on the back of my driver's license.

The number to roadside assistance didn't work for some reason, and I decided I was going to have to try and change the tire myself. I was about an hour away from my uncle's, and two hours from my parents. Added to that, my flat happened in between two towns and so there wasn't a gas station around for miles. I pulled my car further to the right to give me more space to work on the tire. Meanwhile cars were whizzing by me, and no state trooper in sight. Usually the highways here are lousy with state troopers, but not on Sunday evening. Anyway, I pulled up my parking brake when I saw a white Sienna mini van pull up and a husband and wife got out.

"We will help you," the wife said. And her husband, very expertly, got my tire off and the spare tire back on. Meanwhile, we were standing at the side of the road, watching the sun melt into the horizon, the golden rays melting into white over the tree line. It was a beautiful evening, not too hot, and if it weren't for the situation, I would have greatly enjoyed it. I made small talk with the wife, learned they lived in the upcoming town, and they were on their way home from grocery shopping. She spoke with a Spanish accent. I never asked their names. I offered the husband money, but he smiled and shook his head. They got into their van, I got into my car, and we were off. The whole incident lasted about six minutes.

I wish I had gotten that couple's name and address so I could send them a thank-you card. I didn't panic or have a Seema!melt-down when I saw the flat because of the car class I'd recently taken and I knew I could change the tire; it might take me a while, but I could do it. I also knew, thanks to the car class, that my spare was actually full of air and not flat after seven years of riding around in my trunk. For those two things and the couple, I'm very, very grateful.

The ironic part of this story is when I was leaving my brother's house, I told him and Jessica -- because it was so late, quarter to six -- "Watch, tonight I'll get a flat." And then half-heartedly, I rapped my knuckles on the side of the door. Today was also the first time I didn't check the air in my tires before I left the house; my mother even mentioned that to me on the phone, that I always panic and take the car to Costco before leaving town just to make sure the car is ship-shape. Funny how it all came together tonight. I'm just very, very grateful that it turned out for the best and somewhere out there, there's a Spanish-speaking couple in a white Toyota Sienna mini-van whom I owe a big thank you to.

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