One of these days, calamity will knock at my door. It’s inevitable.
But not today.
I didn’t know how to include this story in my earlier post. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to try. Like my countless pranks, I don’t want to take a picture of them or reveal them.
I saw her in the parking lot, standing next to her car. The frustration and anxiety were written plainly on her face. Her passenger-side front tire was flat.
I parked and said, “Hello, my name is X, and I’m here to help.” I know it sounds tilted; it was amusing to me as I said it. I’m actively looking for karma opportunities; I never fail to find them if I look carefully because life is so full of surprises.
“I can’t get my boyfriend or sister to answer the phone.” She sounded a little defeated. Most of us have been there before. “I have groceries in the trunk, getting hot.”
“Okay.” I showed her my work badge. “My name really is X. Here’s where I work. Do you need to get home with the groceries, or do you need the flat fixed?”
“That’s kind. It’s okay.” She said it with enough half-enthusiasm so that even a dim bulb like me could see she was saying it out of politeness.
“It’s not okay. I’m going to get my portable inflator from the so-called trunk of my car and air up your tire first, okay?” I didn’t wait for her to reply.
I connected my inflator to her cigarette lighter socket, pulled the cord around, knelt, and began airing the tire up. I ran my fingers around the tire. A screw of some sort protruded from the rubber. “You have a screw in your tire.”
I inflated the tire to 35 psi. “How far is home for you?”
“Three miles,” she said.
“I’m going to show you how to use this inflator, okay?” I gave her a 30-second demonstration. “Take this with you,” I told her, handing her the inflator. “I doubt your car has a sensor to alert you that it’s going flat. I think it is a slow leak and you didn’t notice when you left your house. If you have any doubts, stop if traffic takes too long and check it. Otherwise, drive straight home.”
“I can’t take your inflator. That’s too much.” She smiled.
“Too much is getting caught off guard. You need one of these in your car.”
She smiled. “How do I return the inflator to you?”
“This is not the sort of thing you return! Take it and keep it in every car you own. Flats are nobody’s fault. Do you have enough money to get the flat fixed permanently? If not, it’s okay to say so.” I looked directly at her to let her know that I knew all too well what it’s like to be without options.
She stepped forward. I assumed to shake my hand. Instead, she hugged me.
I made my escape. This sort of thing can bring me to tears if I dwell on it.
It’s not the first inflator I’ve given somebody who has needed it.
I hope it won’t be the last.
$25 is a small price to pay to spread the gospel of inflators and paying it forward.
We’re all going to have flats. Metaphorically and literally.