I had an interesting time this past Friday. My friend and I were on our way to Amarillo because that’s what you do around here when you want something to do, you either visit Wal-Mart or you drive to a bigger town with a mall that takes more than 30 minutes to stroll through. On the way, we ran into a bit of a problem. At 70mph, it started out as a soft beeping like hum that slowly got louder. At first, I thought it may be her car, but I saw some machinery so I thought it was something outside getting closer. It kept getting louder even after we passed the thing I thought it was. At that volume, she finally heard it and wondered if it was her car. I started to think so too but still tried to deny it. You can’t wish trouble away. As she pressed on the brakes and before I could even finish the sentence “Maybe we should pull over and check,” the tire exploded sending rubbery bits flying and filling the air with the aroma of burning tire. At that exact moment, we came to a spot in the road where the shoulder was extra wide, a place meant for vehicles that needed to slow down enough to turn right.
So she opens up the trunk and she still has these outdoor pillows she got on sale back there. You know, those came in handy too because the road was hurting my knees. She says to grab a pillow and there you have it, problem solved. We chant the “righty tighty, lefty loosey” saying together so I can figure out which way to turn the lug nuts. We almost had to loosen those together, but once she saw I had it, she read up on how to use the jack. Every portable car jack is different. It was definitely different from mine, anyway, and it’s not like we use them on a regular basis.
I get the nuts loose enough to remove them by hand and we were ready to jack that thing up. Portable car jacks are insanely slow. My dad had a big jack in his garage that pumped up a car in two to three easy pumps. I always wish for that whenever I have to change a flat tire. Years later, the car was off the ground enough to switch. Then it was back on with the lug nuts, back down to the ground, and tightening the nuts with the wrench in a star pattern. Ready to roll.
You know, it sort of bothered me that not one person pulled over to help. I mean, we could do it just fine and didn’t need help, but what if it was a case where I did need help? Sure, you’re probably thinking that I can just use my phone to call someone. Well, believe it or not, there are still places in this country where your cell phone has no signal whatsoever. We weren’t in one at the time, but those places exist if we were say headed west and not east. There was a time when I broke down somewhere in New Mexico, many a time actually, and all it took was me stepping out of the car for someone to stop. A raised hood, a raised trunk with me at the side on the ground, there were even times when someone asked if I needed help and I only pulled over to find my chips in the backseat. But in the Texas panhandle, nobody stopped. They barely pulled into the next lane like you’re supposed to do when you see someone on the side of the road and don’t feel like stopping. Good thing the tire was on the passenger side.
Take care of your tires. My dad would always say “tires are the only thing between you and the road,” and things like when your tires aren’t properly aligned, it can destroy your entire car. He says the same thing about shoes and taking care of your feet. My friend said she checked her tires the night before, so that wasn’t it. I think she may have backed over something in one of our driveways or ran it over on some road. We can’t really be sure.
Guardian angels do exist. When that tire blew at those high speeds, we didn’t flip, we didn’t flop, we didn’t spin. We came to a perfectly normal stop. People die from blow outs like that. We were just mildly inconvenienced. Her parents let us borrow their car so we could still make the movie she wanted to see so badly (The Nun is pretty good, by the way), and after some shopping, we made it home safely.
Take care of yourself. Get yearly checkups on your health, your teeth, and whichever parts you may have that also need checking. As Ma always says, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” of course meaning it’s cheaper to get things checked and fix the problem before it breaks than it is to fix the problem after it breaks.
Take care of your vehicles. Get your brakes checked once a year, check tire pressure every time you gas up, get oil changes as recommended for the type of oil you’re using, and when you get a newer car, see if it comes with an actual spare tire. They actual tire may be far more inconvenient than the Fix a Flat, but it’s reusable and can replace a tire that has exploded all over the highway.
Inspire, motivate, believe. Together we can change the world. Let’s all work together to make a better world. We can be each other’s cheerleader. We all rise together.
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YA Fantasy author and amateur photographer living in New Mexico. A reflection of herself, her characters are timid at first but tend to stand up and push through when times get tough.