This afternoon, while driving southbound on Interstate 29 between Omaha and Kansas City, my front right tire shredded like a piece of paper being run through a large blender. You could literally see through the tire.
When it happened, I started to swerve, crossed the center line doing 70 miles an hour and finally came to a stop on the shoulder, outside of Craig, Missouri, which if you look it up, is right next to absolutely nothing. A normally 3 hour drive took me over 8 hours. I missed a parent-teacher meeting at my children’s school and while I won’t bore you with the details of the previous few weeks, the timing was not very good for this to happen.
And you may be thinking…whew, at least he made it home. But, that would only be part of the story and that would not be the entire aspect of home either. You see, it’s a rather humbling experience to be broken down on the side of a major highway. Why? Because literally hundreds of cars passed me by…all except one….And, now listen closely because we’re getting closer to home…
The only car to stop today belonged to a worn down man, with leathery tan skin, wearing ripped, dirty blue jeans, with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth, and a plain blue t-shirt. His car looked like it lost every single bar fight in its illustrious life and the rear bumper barely sat above ground. The beat up, rusted out, blue Pontiac stopped while every other vehicle passed by. And the man who got out, seemed rather worn out himself.
“I understand what it’s like to be broken down, so thought I’d see if you’re ok,’ he said.
Exhausted, I phone my wife, who quickly calls various tire places in the next major city, which was St. Joseph, Missouri. The Honda dealership recommended a tire place and my wife gave me the number. When I called, a gentleman answered and said, “We close at 7 p.m., when can you get here?’
“I can’t get there before 7.30 p.m. because I cannot drive over 45 mph on this undersized spare,” I replied.
“Hey, I will stay until you get here, just let me know when you’re close.”
Richard kept his tire and repair shop open over 2 hours later than necessary just to fix my car. He gave me a discount on new tires (since my other front tire started to shred and he pointed out that had they both shredded at the same time, I would have had a very bad day).
I missed the 6 p.m. meeting at my children’s school and drove in to my driveway at around 10.30 p.m. with four new tires, at a reasonable rate, but safely and with two lingering thoughts in my mind.
Home isn’t just coming back to those I live with, but it’s also being connected to the beat up, weathered man in the rotten blue Pontiac who understands bad days. And it’s also being connected to a man who will stay late to work on just one stranger’s car. Tonight, I almost didn’t make it home physically….my concern going forward is that I seek to be at home with myself so that I too can stay late, stop to help, and reiterate that I too know what it’s like to be broken down.