Making Lemonade

21 Dec

Michaela and I headed out last Friday, planning to drive across the county to deliver Christmas presents to my work colleagues. We’d gotten about 20 miles south, near the U.S.-Mexico border, when the tire sensor on my car went crazy. A minute later, there was a loud, urgent “thwap, thwap, thwap, thwap” sound that clearly had something to do with the driver’s side rear tire.

The part of town where we were didn’t have a shoulder to pull to, so we drove a few blocks until we could find a safe place to pull over. It was just in the nick of time, too, because the monitor showed my tired pressure ticking down like a second clock. I watched with grave concern as I waited for the light to turn green so we could pull over, and the sensor ticked down to nearly 0 PSI.

We pulled onto a side street and called Mike. After looking in the trunk, it was clear that my card doesn’t have a spare– not even a donut! (Ironically, the car does include a beautiful sturdy tire changing set and pristine white gloves so you don’t dirty your hands when working on your car.) So I called AAA, which dispatched a tow truck to see if they could fix my flat.

The person from AAA was super helpful, and the tow truck came quickly. The driver tried filling the tire so he could identify the hole, but the air came gushing out in a steady stream. He found a six-inch-long nail that had become embedded in the tire and told me he couldn’t fix it but we weren’t too far from a tire shop.

Then came the question of how were we going to get there. Because of COVID, you can’t ride in the cab of the two truck. Mike could have come to get us, but it would have taken him a good half hour (at least) to reach us. And it would have taken a while for an Uber to reach us, too. The driver said we could ride in the backseat of my car, on the back of the flatbed tow truck, so that’s what we did. It took some convincing– Michaela was scared (and rightly so! I am pretty sure it’s illegal at worst and a bad idea at best). But that’s what we did. We got into the car, were towed to Discount Tire, which was only a mile away, and the friendly team there got to work.

When I came in, the man who helped us said I was the cheeriest person who had ever come in on the back of a tow truck. I’m pretty sure I beamed. No one ever calls me cheery!

But that really speaks to the power of perspective.

We could have been on the freeway when I got the flat. It could have been a blowout. We could have been in an area with no cell reception. We could have been far away from a tire shop. And, as I learned last year, my car could have caught on fire with us in it.

So yeah, you can bet that a flat tire didn’t worry me too much!

We got to Discount Tire at the perfect time. They took my car right away, took the tire off and checked it out, and were able to patch it in addition to cleaning and checking the tire pressure in all my tires. And it was completely free! A half hour or so later, Michaela and I were on our way.

My mother-in-law said poor Michaela would probably grow up to avoid driving after these car-related issues. But I hope she’ll instead take from this that keeping a cool head in a time of crisis can get you a long way in the face of automotive disaster… And that it never hurts to have AAA.

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