I had an adventure yesterday. While driving home from Chehalis, in my mom’s boat of a car, a Crown Victoria, I had a flat tire. A very nice man tried to wave me over, but — as I was also extremely sleepy and had weaved a little (I know, I know) — I didn’t realize he was indicating my tire. I stopped at a rest area, walked around, freshened up, and got back on the road. About 5 minutes later the tire shredded.
To my credit, the Triple-A man (a really nice man named Dennis) said, “These cars are like land-yachts. It’s really hard to notice when something is wrong.” He put the spare on for me, told me to go to Les Schwab (he said that’s where the tire was from and maybe it was under warranty), and waved me off.
So I called my husband, who tried to talk me into driving home (I told him the Triple-A man said not to), and he told me that I must under no circumstances let a tire salesman talk me into buying four new tires. I drove around Federal Way for about 20 minutes, and found two other tire stores, was very close to giving up (after all, would the tire really be under warranty? could I be that lucky? my husband said for-sure-not), but decided to try one more time. I found it. The tire turned out to have been fairly new and it was under warranty. The man at the counter did not try to sell me anything.
I spent about an hour and a half sitting on the side of the freeway, then about two and a half hours at Les Schwab. I had my textbook for my college composition class with me and I got it out and read the first unit’s reading assignments (this was a revelation). After considerable time had passed, I discovered the popcorn machine, and I moved to the reception area, where sunlight was streaming through the windows, and I sat down and reopened my book.
One other customer was sitting there. He was a big man about my age, and he wore a white tee-shirt and had a gold hoop earring. He was African American, but he reminded me of Mr. Clean from those old Proctor & Gamble commercials. “What happened to you?” he asked. I told him, briefly (I really wanted to get back to my book) and he said, “Well, praise God. Weren’t you lucky!”
Lucky I didn’t have an accident. Lucky I was driving the car and not my 80-year old mother. Lucky I had Triple-A. Lucky that the tire was under warranty. Lucky I was obedient (he actually used that word!) to the advice I’d been given. Lucky that it was such a bright, pretty day to wait in.
I was initially leery, but he won me over with his infectious enthusiasm. I am still not sure if he was trying to convert me to his church, but he talked a lot about the Bible (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth), or “the good book,” and how “it’s all in there!” We talked about my daughters. We talked about how if you want to grow something, you have to plant it first. “It might not grow. Maybe the soil’s no good. Maybe it won’t ever rain. But if you don’t plant it, it surely will not grow!”
His name was Len, and although (being at heart a reclusive hermit type who would always rather read a book) I almost got up and moved away when he began talking to me, he ended up making my day. Added bonus: he gave me a story to tell.