Before last week I'd never had to change a flat tire, but I had always thought that if I had to, no sweat, I'd do it.
Well last Thursday I was put to the test. And I hate to admit it but It ain't as easy as it looks. The worst part is realizing you can't do it and having to sit helplessly on the highway mere feet away from speeding 18-wheelers zooming by, literally rocking your car as they pass. Scary!
Thank God for the three angels, in the form of good-hearted men, who came to help.
Let me back up. It was the busy day from hell. It's always a day when you have the thightest of tight schedules and need everything to go like clockwork, when something happens to through the whole darn thing off course; ain't that the truth.
I started the day with 8 a.m. Tae Kwon Do. Class ends at 9 a.m. I change clothes in the bathroom at the gym, jump in the car and rush downtown from Independence to the office for a meeting at 10 a.m. Meeting is over at 11:15 in time to check e-mails and prepare for a telephone interview at noon.
About 45 minutes later I'm frantically transcribing notes in between stealing a few bites of lunch. Then back in the car to an interview in Kansas City, Kansas at 1:30 p.m. I get there right on time and have a great interview; nearly an hour long. Then back in the car driving like a bat out of you know where to make it to a third interview in Olathe.
I'd been going back and forth on the telephone and via e-mail for days the week before planning this interview and tour at a college facility with some folks whose schedules are tough to crack into. So it was pretty important that I make this one on time.
Every thing seemed to be going just fine, I'm following the directions - care of mapquest. I'm sure I'm going to make it. I'm nearly there only about two exits away from my destination, when all of a sudden the hum of the tires against the pavement sound like blubber slapping against... well, blubber. The car is suddenly hard to stear and the speed drops to almost nothing. I have to tell you some pretty foul words spewed from my lips. I managed to pull the car to the side of the road, off the highway.
I really didn't have to look. I knew the problem. The front passenger-side tire was as flat as a pancake. It was test time. In my heels, hose and silk dress, a tire iron in hand I gave loosening the lug nutts on the wheel my best try. They didn't budge. I used my feet. I was practically jumping on the darn thing and nothing. More foul words. That didn't help either. Maybe prayer, coupled with muscle. Still the overly tight nutts held fast.
I refused to cry. Althought I wanted to. I was mad at myself for letting my Triple A membership, which I had never used before, lapse. I called my appointment and explained that I was sitting in my car, tire flat, just a few miles away and I wasn't going to make the appointment. Then I called the office to see if someone there could locate a towing service near my location, that could come and change the stupid tire. I would wait for them to call me back. Within minutes my office savior calls back to say he and another great guy from the office were coming to my rescue, even though I was stuck a good 30 minutes or more away from downtown.
Then something wonderful happened; no, I didn't manage to move the nutts. a Johnson County Sheriff's deputy pulled up behind me.
"Are you alright?" I'd been sitting there about 30 minutes, staring in the rearview mirror and terrified that a car or monster size truck was going to slam in to the back of my car and knock me over an embankment. "I'm fine except for the big fat flat tire."
I'd always heard that police will call a tow truck for you, but they would never change a tire for you. Well this guy must not have gotten that memo. Before I knew it he was crouched down spinning the nutts or bolts what ever they are called, off the wheel with ease. He had pulled out his jack and lifted the car enough to remove the tire. About the time he was setting my spare on and replacing the nutts. My two buddies from the office pulled up, hopped out the car and were walking toward me - each with one of those long stride, arms swinging struts - like tough guy heroes in a movie scene.
While the officer finished the job, one of my buddies slung the old busted tire into my trunk. I thanked officer friendly about 10 times. He shrugged it off, just smiled and said nothing. As if it were, as they say; all in a day's work. Just serving, protecting and helping pitiful, unable-to-change-a-tire women off the highway.
One buddy jumped into my car to make sure I made it back to the office without incident. Of course I did.
Now I want to know the secret to changing a tire. I'm planning on practicing and making sure both my boys know how. I recommend everyone try their hand at it before they end up stuck on the side of the road waiting for officer friendly to answer their prayers and come to their aid.
I guess I failed the test and I hope I'm never in that situtation again. Thank goodness for angels who came to my rescue and to the sheriff's deputy, thank you so much for stopping and for helping.