By: Devin Riggs, Regular Contributor
It was early on a Thursday morning. Traffic was mild despite the snowstorm that had come in the night before. I was making good time and thought I might be early to work. Then I heard the noises. I felt my car become sluggish, and then, I smelt burnt rubber. *Insert expletives*
I pulled over. My ballet-like flats hit the wet pavement of the highway, snow quickly collecting on my coat. My rear tire was caput. *Insert more expletives* It was snowing. I was late. It had been at least four years since I’d changed a tire. I was not wearing proper shoes. I was cold and freaking out.
My saving grace arrived in the form of a courtesy patrolman pulling up behind me almost immediately offering to change my tire for me. This enabled me to leave a message at work and call my parents for extra support and trouble-shooting. After he politely turned down my offer to help him, I watched him work on my tire, checking in on the progress and making sure everything went on correctly.
What seemed like ages later (but was really only about fifteen minutes), I was back on the road to work. I want to give a major shout out to the guy who helped me. He turned what could have been a major meltdown disaster into a more manageable situation, which taught me some important lessons.
I Still Don’t Know Everything.
I thought I’d finally gotten the hang of being a car owner. I know how to check the fluids. I can change my own oil (and I know how often I should). I know it’s important to check the tire pressure often. I know how to change a tire (even though it takes me a while to get it done). And yet, I admit I wasn’t aware that I needed to rotate my tires every 5,000 miles or so. I’m still learning how to maintain a well running vehicle.
And even if I do everything right…sometimes things just happen.
This was a good moment for me to remember that I cannot plan for everything. The biggest obstacle in my life is focusing on the things I can control instead of worrying about the things I can’t. I was totally unprepared. I didn’t plan on getting a flat tire. No one ever does. Flat tires happen, ready or not. The important thing is how you react. My mom told me to go to work and have a good day, and that we’d figure out what to do with the shredded tire when I got home. And, I worked very hard to not let the start determine the rest of the day.
Things Could Have Been Worse
On my way home at the end of the day I passed by an accident. The cars looked bad and the paramedics were treating one of the drivers. A wave of gratitude rushed over me as I realized my situation was a best-case scenario. It could have been a lot worse. My front tire could have blown, and I could have lost control of my vehicle, potentially causing a full on accident with other cars. I could have been stuck on the side of the road for a lot longer changing the tire myself if the patrolman hadn’t shown up. I was extremely lucky.
While it’s caused a lot of stress, this flat tire has taught me a lot about car maintenance. It has given me the opportunity to really take control of my anxieties. And, most importantly, it has reminded me to be grateful. I know lessons come in strange places, but I never thought one would come from the side of a highway on a snowy, April day.
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Devin has a degree in education with a focus in English. She is working to publish her first collection of poetry while also learning the art of patience. Her passions include Doctor Who, penguins, hats and scarves, potatoes, dancing, photography, and making people happy. She believes in the healing powers of music, spending time in the great outdoors, and a good night sleep.
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