At a time when this seemingly endless presidential election is making it look more and more each day like the destruction of the American Empire is truly at hand, I wanted to share a brief but heartwarming story. Mrs. Working Stiff and I recently took a road trip to Raleigh, NC to spend a long weekend with my brother and his wife at their cool pad in the historic Boylan Heights neighborhood of that city. The traffic around Baltimore and Washington D.C. is always an adventure, but aside from that – farther down the road we had a “nicer” small adventure.
Headed south on I-95 in North Carolina, not far from our intended exit to 64 West toward Raleigh, I started to hear some increasingly loud tire noise, and right on queue the low tire pressure warning light came on. We took the next exit, found a service station and found that the right rear tire was pretty low. I didn’t see anything wrong with the tire so I filled it to spec and we got back on the road, taking our exit within a few miles for 64 West at Rocky Mount. The tire sounded better.
BUT, headed west on 64 now I started to hear the tire again. Fortunately an exit came up right then with signs indicating service stations and I took it. Right then on the ramp the noise quickly became the dreadful and distinctive sound of a tire seriously low on air. I pulled right onto a large shoulder area. Lo and behold, that right rear tire was now flat! I think if I had driven another few hundred feed the rim would probably have cut through the rubber.
We worked together to move enough of the trunk contents to the back seat such that we could get at the spare compartment. I must have explored this compartment after we bought the car about two years ago, but in any case I was pleasantly surprised to find that, not only did we have a full-size spare but that it was an unused Michelin on a 5th cast aluminum wheel, and fully inflated to boot. The wife mentioned that we did pay for Triple-A and we could call them, and I did consider that, but looking at the spare alongside the jack and the whole nice tool kit there, I figured nah – I’ll just put the spare on and we’ll be on our way.
I should say that though I have not changed a tire for some years, I have done the task a few times and am fully qualified to do it. (It is a pretty simple process, but does take some muscle.)
I had to fiddle around some to identify the correct jack-point (the reinforced area of the frame where you are supposed to place the jack so the car can be lifted without hurting anything). That took a few minutes but we got the jack placed and I had just made the first few turns of the jack handle when we noticed a car pulling up on the shoulder in front of us. A burly young man got out and came towards us asking if we needed any help. We greeted him warmly and thanked him for stopping, and I said that I thought we were OK with the process at this point and should be fine.
We thanked him again for stopping and for his concern. He said that he had broken down the other day and that someone had stopped along the road at that time to help him. Around that time he just took over! He picked up the jack handle and cranked away. I said a few times that he didn’t have to do that, I could do it – he just tore into it like he changed tires for a living.
I helped him take the flat off and helped him position the spare. He tightened up all the nuts and lowered the car. I had been torn about offering him money, concerned about insulting him, when the wife asked “Can we give you anything”?
He thanked her and waved that idea away firmly. He said he was just glad to help. We thanked him profusely as he brushed himself off. He said his name was Karmaine, with a “K” but he said it like Kwar-maine. I waved to his girlfriend, sitting half inside their car up ahead and she gave a friendly wave back. And he left, a young, southern knight in shining armor. A knight with a steel lug wrench. We put our luggage back together and headed back down the road ourselves, with good tire in place. We both had a very warm feeling about that encounter with such a good citizen. We had been stopped alongside the road for just about 25 minutes.
So there you see – it isn’t all bad after all!
About that election…. We have a bottle of Mums Champagne in the fridge for if things go one way, and a bottle of something stronger if things go the other way, but that’s another story.
The Working Stiff