When life throws you lemons, thank it for the snack

Friday, May 13, 2016

Helpful Strangers

I don't have much vehicular know-how or skills. I can change a tire, pump gas, refill the windshield fluid, and replace my wipers. Beyond that, I am clueless when it comes to my car. Maybe I picked it up from my mom, but I also have the mentality of running my car until it's on its last bolts. It's been a year since I got an oil change because I face the daily choice of either feed us or pay for car maintenance. The main reason I keep fueling my car is because I need it to get us everywhere. It's probably a good thing that my car is not a living, breathing organic being because then I'd be hauled away on abuse charges. When it comes to anything going wrong with my car, I have endless anxiety. I am also eternally grateful that God has so many kind people on this earth.

My first vehicle was a Honda CRV. I actually wrote a grateful blog post about it when it was traded in. Sam worked well enough, despite my use. I actually took it too much for granted. My first ever flat tire was a memorable experience. My then-husband refused to leave his board game day at the comic shop to help me change it. I never changed a tire before. Luckily, I had maybe a mile to drive home from the ballpark (my daughter had softball practice) to home. I got Sam in the driveway and proceeded to pretend to know what I was doing. I got the car up with the jack. I was almost proud of myself. But, I had a hard time getting the nuts loose from the tire. An older gentleman from across the street came over & helped me out. He also taught me to loosen the nuts BEFORE I elevated the car.

The next time I got help with my car was when the brakes fell off of Sam. For a couple weeks I had been hearing grinding noises every time I stopped. I didn't know what the sound was. My daughter and I were just leaving the driveway to go to her soccer practice when a rather loud clang came from the car and I couldn't get it to move any more. I called my then-husband for help. He refused to leave his D&D game to come help me, or at least get my daughter to soccer. Another neighbor saw my predicament, helped me get Sam back in the drive & off the street, and even drove us to soccer practice.

Last year, I was driving along a street here in Orlando that takes a weird twist from a two-lane to a single lane right after a light (intersection). I wasn't paying close enough attention, probably talking with my daughter about her day at school, when I missed the street & hit the sidewalk/curb. I heard a frightfully loud noise and immediately knew there was something wrong with the tire. I managed to pull over into a small parking lot to assess the damage. The 2-week old tire had a gaping hole in it. Before I could even get started on changing it, a man pulled into the parking lot and proceeded to do everything for me. He even used a small pump to put air in the spare, which was apparently too low to use. That oopsie, by the way, ended up costing around $700 because the axel was bent out of shape.

Maybe I look complely helpless when I'm next to my car. I don't know for certain. I do know that I needed to inflate my tire for quite a while, probably at least 3 months. I didn't realize just how low it was until this morning. A man parked next to me at the building where I have a temporary assignment. He told me my tire looked really low and offered to use his portable pump to fill it. My tire is supposed to have about 30-40 pounds of pressure for optimal running. It had 18 pounds. Who knows in what kind of trouble I would have found myself if he hadn't decided to help me.

I know it's easy to be cynical. I know the world can be a scary place & people aren't very nice to each other all that often. However, sometimes I find myself the recipient of true kindness, at least when my car is in need.

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