Elastic Basket for my Peaches

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fortunate Misfortune

I seem to be suffering from some sort of tire curse these days. If there is someone out there with a voodoo doll type model of my car, they must be poking that needle into my tires on a daily basis.
A few weeks ago, I was driving to Young Life when I heard a weird clank noise. I pulled into the Young Life parking lot and stopped to talk to my friend,Ann. We could both hear a loud hissing noise like someone deflating a pool float. It turns out that it was not a pool float rapidly deflating but my tire.
Upon further inspection, we found a large bolt protruding from my tire. Ann thought we could try fix a flat. Apparently fix a flat is not for gaping holes and the liquid quickly flowed out of the tire.

At this point I remembered that I had a full-size spare. David, a fellow Young Life leader, came to my rescue and changed my tire for me. I love nice boys.

I intended to get another tire to replace my spare. I figured that flat tires were not common so it wouldn't be a big deal to wait a month or so. I didn't want to add more to my already busy schedule and figured Christmas break would afford me plenty of chances to get a new tire.I was wrong.

Last night Sarah came over to watch OU versus Texas Tech. With two highly ranked teams, we were sure it would be a good game. We were wrong about that too.

We decided to go to Fry's Electronics before the game started. There was traffic on the freeway so I decided to go another way. We were driving down Airline near 610. The road was not in the best shape and I didn't see the pothole before it was too late. There was a weird noise and the car seemed unbalanced. I feared that the tire was flat and the gesturing of a man next to our car only confirmed my suspicions. We pulled into a nearby gas station to survey the damage.

The man who had been gesturing to us, came over as we got out of our car. It was pretty clear that the tire was a goner. I didn't know what to do. My parentsn my usual saviors, were out of town and I couldn't get a hold of my roommates or nearby friends.

Sarah and I are not car experts so we really had no choice but to let this guy help us. I took off my tire and said that there was a tire place only a couple of blocks away. He had his girlfriend watch our car while he walked with us to the tire place, wheeling my tire along as we went. During this time, he told us a bit about his situation. It was the kind you hear people tell before they approach you for money, though his seemed very sincere. He was from Louisiana and trying to get enough money to go back home. He works at a Buick dealership detailing cars but was between paychecks. He and his pregnant girlfriend were trying to get a room at a nearby hotel but we refused for lack of I.D. Apparently cheap hotels in this part of town require I.D. in case something shady happens involving prostitution, drugs, violence or all three. They want to know who to blame it on. So, this guy, Gary and his girlfriend were hanging out near the Shell deciding what to do with little money and no place to stay when we drove up.

We get to the tire place and some guys who don't speak English patch my tire for $10. Not bad! Gary chivalrously rolled the tire back to the Shell station for us. I never felt unsafe with Gary, though I can't vouch for Sarah. He never did anything that seemed shady. I had already decided I would give him some money. He really deserved it for helping us so much. My only fear was that he would demand more money than I felt his help had warranted.

We got the tire back to the car and Gary put in on for me and everything. I gave him $40 thinking that was fair for the amount he had helped us. Again, I was afraid he would try to get more. Instead, he seemed genuinely surprised by the money and defintely grateful. His girlfriend said she was going to cry and Gary said "God Bless You." It was the perfect reaction.

Getting a flat tire in a shady part of town was definitely not my plan that night and I hope it does not happen again. But, I can't help but think that maybe God put me and Gary together that night for a reason. I definitely wouldn't have given him that much money if he asked. Clearly, he and his girlfriend were in a jam. I was able to pay him for a very needed service that he provided for me and he showed me that there are genuinely nice and helpful people out there. Hopefully Gary and his lady friend found a better place to stay that night. It was worth the extra trouble to have this experience.

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