There are days when things go wrong and I allow myself the luxury of raging. It is a luxury to cuss and complain and beat your breast and ask “why me?” It is always, though, about little things, because, of course, you get a pass to act thusly for the big things.
So, yesterday, when my tire went flat as I was driving down the toll road, I could have had a fit. Instead, I was first grateful that it happened just before one of the four or so exits along the 30 miles of it that I drive. More grateful that the right two toll boothes were closed, so I had plenty of room to mess with the tire.
Then the hard part came. I’ve changed a tire or two, in fact, my older brother insisted that I learn how to change a tire when I got my driver’s license (most likely at the behest of my parents, but I think, too, because of who he is and his respect for all things mechanical). So, I understand about lug nuts, and jacks, and little donut tires. That I got. It was “releasing” the little donut tire that had me stymied.
There I am, at the side of a highway, holding the owners manual and scratching my head. Once I found the jack and the “winch system release kit” I then had to figure out what to do with the winch system.
You see, my brother taught me to change a tire 29 years ago and cars were a whole lot different then. You didn’t lower the spare from the undercarriage of the car through a cap in the floorboard between the front seats. No, you pried up the bottom of the trunk, turned a wing nut or two and released the donut.
Now, though, this wench has to use a winch.
I was starting to get a little mad, but I did, finally, get the tire lowered to the ground, and had transformeded the “winch system release tool” to a “tire retrieval tool” by turning the handle into a hook–just as the manual instructed. It was then that the hard part started. Not hard, really, except for this: I was wearing a white linen skirt and it was already a windy day, but add to that the trucks blowing by as they braked for the toll booth. And, in order to retrieve the tire, I had to get down on the cement on my knees. Which I did.
But here comes the easy part: When I stood back up, after having pulled the tire out from under the van, I was brushing my hands off and looked up the road a bit and there was a nice young man walking toward me saying “Mind if I give you a hand with that?”
Can I get a “Halleluyah!” Can I get an “amen!” What I actually said was: “oh, please!”
In five minutes he had the van jacked, the old tire off and in the back of the van, and the new tire on, and the “spare tire protective covering” all set to be winched back up. Even if I hadn’t been wearing a skirt, had I been wearing jeans, I might have been able to do it all in about 30 minutes. After he rinsed his hand with the remnants of one of my daughters’ water bottles, he headed back to his truck, back on his way to Ohio, and called back over his shoulder not once, but twice, “don’t forget to winch that thing back up.”
So I sat in my van, winching away, and just being grateful.
This is, actually, the third time in my nearly 29 years of driving that I have had a flat tire (second time in which I have been wearing a white skirt–red flags coming up here, don’t drive in white!), and the third time I have not had to complete the task myself. Each time I muttered and grumbled at first, then got to the task at hand. And each time, as I struggled in the wrong clothes in the wrong place, someone has stopped to help–no, not help, do.
But here’s what was different this time: I didn’t start by giving in to that voice that wants to respond to annoying circumstances with rage and pain. I simply accepted that I needed to get to work and so I did. Winching and all.
If I were a minister, I’d draw some theological meaning out of this. Something to do with helping those who help themselves, maybe. Or about ask and you shall receive (because, I’m pretty sure I threw up a prayer or two as I winched). Or maybe just about doing good, being good, and being open to not only helping others but being helped by others.
But I’m not a minister, and this is such a trivial thing to most people–a flat tire–but my response to it gives me pause to consider how I might be growing away from rage. It also gave me a moment to spend being grateful for kind people with strong hands and willing hearts.
Can I get an “Amen!”