Yesterday didn’t go as planned.  After lunch with a friend, I decided to stop by the post office to mail a few cards.  Simple enough.  Few minutes out of the way to make sure the cards would be mailed today instead of tomorrow.

No problem with the cards, big fiasco with the car.  A repetitive thud began as I turned into the post office.  I waited for a moment before getting out of the car.  Perhaps the tire would resurrect itself if I simply paused.  Nope.  Front left tire was flat.

Flat TireI’m not the most handy of people, but changing a tire is a simple task.  Right?  I tried to project confidence as I walked to the back of the car.

Wrench – check.

Car jack – check.

Spare tire – check.

I looked around hoping that both no one was watching me and that someone would save me out of the mess.

I positioned the jack and raised the car slightly.  Stepped back to admire the work.  Growing in confidence, I grabbed the wrench.  Lug nuts wouldn’t budge.  Tried again.  And again.  Confidence flattened, I stepped away to both find some shade and to make sure it wasn’t obvious to passersby that I couldn’t remove lug nuts from a tire.

Defeated, I called AAA.  The woman was encouraging and generous, “Oh, the lug nuts get stuck on people all the time.”  Masculinity momentarily restored.  I confessed it’s been many years since I’ve changed a tire.  She tried to lift my spirits, “We just aren’t used to doing maintenance on cars ourselves anymore.”  While true, this didn’t help my feelings of inadequacy.

A tow truck would arrive within the hour to change the tire for me.

The idea of a man driving up in a tow truck to change the tire for me inspired me to try again.  I pushed harder on the wrench.  Tried to leverage my entire body.  Nut didn’t move, but sweat poured from my face.

A man stopped to offer help.  Took him about 3 seconds to dislodge the first lug nut.  The second seemed to loosen as he merely glanced its direction.  Good news.  Yet, not exactly an ego booster for me.  He patiently taught me to use the wrench and then observed as I labored to lift the car using the jack.

The jack leaned back, looking as though it would snap in half at any moment.  He tried to help.  I was certain my incompetence would be exposed again.  Thankfully, he blamed the jack and told me it just wasn’t adequate for the job.  Again, this felt good, but wasn’t exactly helpful in resolving the tire situation.

JackAAA arrived.  Professional car jacks are enormous.  He assured me the jack that came with the Prius was inadequate, recommended a larger model, and changed the tire.

I then spent the next two hours at the dealership.  Turns out all four tires were worn and needed to be replaced.  While not how I intended to spend the afternoon, it is reassuring to know that our soon-to-be-born baby will be rolling home from the hospital on brand new tires!  Crib, dresser, rocking chair … new tires.  We’re not exactly living out our commitment to simplicity in our purchasing choices in the final weeks of pregnancy.  Simplicity seems to have taken a backseat to security for the moment.

Spare TireSometimes tires just go flat.  No warning.  I was prepared with tools in the car.  I just wasn’t confident in using them.  Ultimately, they weren’t really the right tools.  A generous passerby offered assistance.  A professional helped get me back on the road.  All my other plans for the day were delayed and my shirt was drenched.

The experience leaves me wondering what tools I carry with me for the moments I’m brought to a halt by life’s challenges and the world’s brokenness.  How much do we need to practice using the tools in order to be ready when we really need them?  How do we find the right tools for the job?  How open will we be to passersby offering support?  What keeps us from asking for help?  Will we slow down to offer assistance to others in their time of need?

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