Running. With AAA.

photography,black and white,tire,flat tire,
Yahoo Weather Update:
57º F. Humidity 97%. Visibility 4 miles. Areas of dense morning fog. Mist.

Mist. And Ambivalence rains. Mind says yes. Body says rest.

I gear up.
Red and Black shoes. Black running pants. Red top.
Red. Rhino. Run.
I’m out the door.

The Mind whirrs back to Wednesday.  We’re in the car on our bi-annual trek to pick up Eric at College.  It’s a 10 to 14 hour drive and we’re standing in wall-to-wall traffic on the GW Bridge. We’re tracking to the wrong end of the range and the horse has just left the barn.

We clear the bridge and I’m barreling down the NJ turnpike.  72 mph. OK, 78 mph. Making up time.

The Warning light flashes on dash. “LOW TIRE PRESSURE.”  Followed by a PHSSSSSST. And then, a WUMP. WUMP. WUMP. WUMP. (Blood rushes to head. Why is it so hot in the car? Tension fills the cabin. Co-Pilot has seen the Captain manage the unexpected. It’s not pretty.)

I pull the car over to the shoulder. (I come from a long lineage of handymen. DNA somehow skipped me. My fix-it depth consists of bangin’ on the Alt-CTL-DEL key.)

Susan calls AAA. ETA is 30 minutes. (30 minutes to show up. 15-20 minutes to put on the provisional. 90 minutes to 3 hours to find a service station to replace tire. Estimated 2.5 – 4 hour delay. Mood darkens. Migraine thundering on queue.)

AAA arrives. I get out of the car to car to greet him. He gives me a hand signal to stay off the highway. His lips mouthing “too dangerous.” A Semi passes by and kicks up a wind gust. Diesel exhaust fills my lungs.

I reach to shake his hand. (He looks to be 40-50 years old. Face puffy. Heavy bags under his eyes. He offers a forced, but friendly smile.)

He removes the tire. Then makes a call. “I have this tire back at the shop. Would you like me to replace it? It will take me 15-20 minutes to get the tire and come back.” (A good samaritan. Our luck is turning. My new friend here just shaved 3 hours of delay.  Migraine is whisked away.)

He’s got his clipboard and his Bic preparing to write-up the tire charges.  (The clipboard is bouncing on his knee. His hands are trembling. He pauses trying to steady himself. I turn away. He rips up the receipt. Apologizes. And asks me for my card again.)

I sign the bill. Thank him. And hand him a tip.

“You’ve already paid for the tire.”

“This is for you. You made our day.”

He looks down at the bill. He looks up at me. His eyes hollow – – filled with gratitude.

“Thank you Sir. Thank you. No, you made my day.”

I climb back into the car. Susan has had an hour to reminisce.

Do you remember? We had just gotten married. It was the Chevy Chevette.  I think the repair bill for the transmission was $400.  I cried. I didn’t know how we would pay for it. We were living paycheck to paycheck.  Do you remember that?

Yes.

I look in the rear view mirror to see his truck pulling away. I didn’t catch his name.

Time Check: 6 miles. 57 minutes. (Pace gets any slower, the breeze will be pushing me backwards.)

Nap time.


Image Source: Blew-Gray Photography

Related Posts: Running Series.

Comments

  1. Good for you! Sounds like he needed a break.

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  2. Nicely written, David. I miss real spares. But guys who come out to fix us up are the Road Knights of today. And this guy for sure. Ever consider run flat tires? Me neither –too good to be true.

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    • Hi Frank. Thank you. So true. He told me twice to step back away from traffic while he was changing the tire. Incredible.

      I’ve never considered run flat tires. I’ve heard they work. I’m with you, find it hard to believe.

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  3. Edward Onofrio says:

    Been there. Not a good day sorry to read this

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  4. Bummer to blow a tire, but damn, I love it when you run. You come up with the *best* stories when you run. Enjoy your nap, pal, you’ve earned it!! 🙂

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  5. Love how you turned a bad story into a good one, David. I truly love these posts where you share your life with us. Thanks. Hope you retrieved Eric OK! (God, I hate long drives as much as you!)

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    • Awwww Vicki. Thank you. I appreciate the feedback. Yes, Eric is home. Sleeping in daily. And the drives are so long – but helpful when Eric drives 75% of the way. 🙂

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  6. I thought you’d never run! Best stories, observations, thoughts…thanks for sharing.

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  7. paths were meant to cross. universe conspired to have you meet to help each other in ways unexpected. run, david, run.

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  8. Things happen for a reason…I guess this is one such example. 🙂

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  9. I get how, at that moment, a flat tire is a huge inconvenience; yet, in the scheme of things (in retrospection), it is really minor. I love the way you reflect on these opportunities to re-frame and in the way you do re-frame.

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  10. Love the stories of your life David!

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  11. Kindness…it is a gift, both ways. The world is a better place for these little things and your action is rippling across from person to person, even if it cannot be seen, it is felt in the heart. Thank you David.

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  12. Sounds like serendipity for both you and the AAA man. Glad your story ended well, David. 🙂

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