There’s a particular toll road that I drive several times throughout the week. It’s the same road that took me to and from work every day before my dream of full-time homemaking came true. Because this is the quickest way south to north through the state, it is constantly teeming with folks from Texas blazing by at 95 (where the speed limit is 75 mph), and convoy after convoy of truckers hauling food and materials across the nation. Having spent innumerable hours on this route myself, changing lanes for vehicles with smoking engines or small-bladdered lowercase humans, one of my greatest fears of traveling by way of the Turnpike was getting a flat tire. It seems that all common courtesy of giving some space to the car on the shoulder has gone out the window. My fear was magnified at the thought of having a flat tire…while on the Turnpike…in the dark…
Between my original location and our home, there is but one truck stop for fuel and a bathroom break. Since most of my commutes home are long past dark and I’m borderline sleepy, I continue on my merry way unless I have only a quarter tank of gas left in my trusty pathfinder. So long as I am above that last hash-mark on my fuel gauge, I can make it back home to Cowboy Joe safe and sound. I never stop. Ever.
Tuesday night as I ventured home from Bible study, I peeped at my fuel gauge, checking for more than the prerequisite quarter tank. I was surprised to see the little ticker merely a hair under half – meaning I was well able to get home. But I stopped at the service station anyway, thinking, “Won’t it be nice to have a full tank to start your Wednesday?” I flipped my turn signal to the left, and pulled off to top off my tank. I should mention that it was drizzling heavily, and freezing almost instantly.
If you’re from out of state, it’s been absolutely frigid here. We’ve had snow every day this week. The midwest is typically cold in the winter (and windy to boot) but this is the coldest we’ve seen for many winters. In fact, we are barely breaking double digits this week, and next will be single digit highs, with double digit lows (for those of you who go by Celsius, our high’s are -16). I did not tary as I paid for and pumped my fuel, quickly hopping back into the warmth of my car while the tank filled.
At the click of the automatic stop, I grit my teeth and ventured out once more to close the gas cap and continue the last thirty minutes of my trek.
And then I saw it.
The completely flat driver’s side front tire.
I’m talking rim-on-the-ground kind of a flat. The kind that makes you think, “….that’s inconvenient.”
Finding the least snowpacked, slushy, wet parking spot I could, I pulled in and assessed the situation. That sucker was f.l.a.t. “
I know it wasn’t flat when I got here, I checked!” No biggie, I’ll just put some air in it, and go home.
Having hooked up the portable air compressor Cowboy Joe left with me, I filled that tire with air only to see the escaping airstream creating a cloud of steam in the outside air (it’s that cold). I put my finger over the hole and my jaw dropped as the first knuckle of my pinky finger disappeared into the abyss…
It would appear that I am the queen of flat tires. I have had three since Cowboy Joe and I were married last May. I have never had any trouble with them before but maybe this is some kind of joke that I’m missing?
It is now 10 pm. I have been rolling on the frozen yet wet ground jacking up the car, and using all the strength I have to break loose the lugnuts holding things together. What Joseph had last used the impact wrench on was now my task as a 5’7″ lady to unscrew.
I jumped. And jumped. And jumped. Slowly five lugnuts came loose, leaving one last nut standing in the way of progress. My hands were frozen and wet. My fingers were too cold to even use the flashlight on my phone, as heat from your fingers is how you navigate the screen. Usually keeping three pairs of gloves in my car, I could find nary a pair. My toes were long numb, and my knees the same from the completely soaked two pairs of pants I was wearing that were frozen stiff. My lungs were tired. My body was tired. My emotions were shot, but my tears froze on my face as instantly as they fell.
God was so kind to me. After another half hour of full body weight jumping on the lug wrench, the last, obnoxious lugnut let go, and I was able to mount the spare.
How good is God? My greatest fear of travel was finding myself with a flat tire in the middle of nowhere with no light and no safety. Tuesday night, I found myself with a flat tire in a lighted space. With a full tank of gas. In a place I never stop, and had no reason to stop. How thankful I am that I have the knowhow to work, and don’t mind getting dirty (it’s the wet that I don’t love).
Today’s storytime isn’t told for you to pity me, or to draw attention to the lack of chivalry of bystanders, but to bring glory to God for His kindness toward me in directing me to stop, giving me a safe place to work, and piping hot water for showers.
Glory be to Christ!