A Tiresome Problem

A Tiresome Problem

The photo you see here is not the problem; it’s the solution.  Nothing like starting a joke with the punchline, right?

Last weekend I drove from West Central Missouri to the Dallas area of Texas, to visit with my sister’s family and join them in celebrating the marriage of Danielle Renee Hardy and Wade Clinton Jarman.  The preparations had been meticulous, the site was perfect, the bride (my niece) was stunningly beautiful, the groom handsome and heroic.  With mountains of scrumptious food at both the rehearsal dinner and the reception, I think it’s safe to say a good time was had by all.

The problem arose during my drive toward home, when the outer layer departed the right rear tire of my old Suburban, to flop dejectedly onto the shoulder of the turnpike in Northeastern Oklahoma.  Having always been somewhat of a tomboy, I can thank my Daddy for teaching me how to change a tire before I ever left the driveway with my first car.  It’s a skill that everyone who drives should know, and believe me, living out here on the gravel roads, I’ve changed plenty of them.  The weird thing is, in almost nine years of owning the Suburban, I’ve never changed a tire on this vehicle.  Added air from the compressor at the barn? Sure.  Had a slow leak fixed at the shop in town?  Check.  But actually retrieving the spare out of the carpeted cover in the back and figuring out where to put the jack?  Umm . . . no.  And with thousands of vehicles of all sizes whizzing past on the asphalt just mere feet away, it didn’t seem like the optimal place or time to learn, even if the affected specimen was on the lee side.

You see, even though the tread layer of rubber had peeled off, the formerly 10-ply tire was still holding air!  It looked fairly ragged, and the impact had knocked the fiberglass running board loose from the wheel well, but it appeared that I might be able to coax a few more miles out of the thing.  Just as I was looking up “nearest tire shop” on the map program of my trusty iPhone, a Good Samaritan stopped to offer help.  He agreed to follow me into town “just in case”, we both activated our emergency flashers, and, using the minimum speed of 40 mph, limped on into the edge of Joplin, Missouri, to the Ozarko Tire Center on Highway 43, just south of I-44.

These guys were fantastic.  In spite of the fact that it was almost closing time on what must surely have been a busy Monday, they cheerfully agreed to check the soundness of my spare, and, finding it fit for use, promptly installed it on the truck to get me back on the road for home.  What do I owe you? I asked.  Travel safe, and have a good day! the boss replied.  Surprised, I tried to argue the point, to no avail.  Neither the store manager nor the kind young man who had done the work would accept a penny for the service they’d performed.  I was blown away by their kindness, and feel very fortunate to be able to give them a shout-out here.  I climbed back into the Suburban, snapped a quick photo from out of the window on my way out of the lot, and drove the last three hours back to the farm with a warm feeling in my heart.  And then on Thursday, the local shop put four new 10-ply tires on the truck so this problem won’t happen again on my next trip.  After all, that last set had seen me through six years and many thousands of miles.

So here’s my challenge to you: The next time you observe someone with a problem, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to help.  Maybe you can be like the guy who bothered to pull over and offer assistance, or the fellows who changed out my ruined tire for the spare.  If you’re in the Joplin area, maybe throw a little business to those Guardian Angels at the Ozarko Tire Center.

Either way, Travel Safe, and Have a Good Day!