Jun 30, 2008

Stranger (or more adventurous) than fiction

I originally had something else in mind to post about tonight (likely will tomorrow), but I feel compelled to tell you about my day. This is not something I normally like doing, because honestly who really cares? Most of my days are so mundane, even I wouldn't care to read about them. But today was different. Today, I went on an adventure.

It started when I left work. Driving down the highway, my front driver-side tire shredded, and it felt like I was driving in the middle of an earthquake going 70 mph. I pull over to the side of the highway to investigate and see the tire in pretty bad shape. The onramp, not 500 yards away, seemed like a safer place to be so I drove up and started changing my tire.

In changing my tire, the car jack wasn't on the steadiest of ground (I had to make due with my surroundings), so when I took off the tire, the jack fell out and my car was touching pavement. Ahh, well. Nothing a call to triple A can't fix.

I call them up, and 45 minutes later a tow truck comes and help me put my spare tire on my car. In the process, they cut my A/C line and it looks like a smoke machine was set off under my car, not unlike those used at rock concerts and laser light shows. Turns out that tow truck wasn't even from Triple A, though they were nice enough to help me free of charge.

They go off on their merry way, and I realize that my spare is also flat.

It gets better...

So my car hobbles to a nearby gas station, but they don't have any air. I get back on the road and drive, thumping all the way, to another gas station only to find out they don't have any air either. It's here that I realize if I drive any more on the tire, I'm going to shred that one and be right back where I started.

Did I mention at this point I was in north end of Hartford, CT?

For those not familiar with the area, it has a reputation for having a high crime rate. Couple that with the fact that I'm in my professional work clothes... it would be a gross understatement to say I stood out like a sore thumb. That's not social commentary, that's just an observation.

It was at this gas station that I met some of the kindest people I've ever had the privilege of knowing. First to approach me was Lenny, a middle-aged woman who lived nearby but didn't have a car. She was friendly and tried helping me with my tire. Thinking fix-a-flat would get some pressure in the tire (remember: no air at this place), we soon found out that the tire was off its bead and needed to be fixed first.

Next came Pete, a man probably in his late thirties, who saw my plight and decided to help. He suggested that we take the tire off and try to get the tire back on the wheel well. So I jacked up the car, and we removed the tire. Pete recommended we take the tire to another gas station (that had air) and fix it there. Lenny offered to watch my car while we were gone.

Though the idea did send up a lot of red flags, I considered my alternatives (very few) and took the offer. I figured I could take care of myself, should it come to that, so taking a ride with Pete didn't sound too bad. It was my stuff I was worried about. I took everything of value with me (foreshadowing: so I thought), and left the car there. I wasn't worried about the car itself, as it wasn't going anywhere with only 3 tires.

On the car ride over, I met Pete's girlfriend Aimee, roughly the same age as Pete. The two of them were incredibly friendly and very helpful in helping me get my tire fixed. We had to try a few gas stations before we finally found one that had a working air machine (what is it with Hartford gas stations?).

With the tire in proper driving condition, we brought it back to where my car was. Lenny, as promised, took good care of my car while I was away. She even noticed I accidentally left my wallet in my car and returned it to me as soon as we got back. Absolutely nothing in it was missing.

We got the tire back on and I was on my way again, only 3 short hours after I had originally left work. I'm shopping now for a new car (mine was about to die anyway).

I was incredibly lucky to have met Lenny, Pete, and Aimee. If you guys are reading this, thank you for helping out some random stranger at the Hartford Sav-Mart. I can only hope to show others the same kindness that you had shown me this evening.


Amy said...

JB - this is horrible! Time for a new car. At least now we know our childhood song is true: Grandma Baker (car) IS a faker. Arugah.

Jon Baker said...


I just couldn't resist the handicap handbrake/gas pedal!

I'm scrambing to get a new car now. Hopefully, if all goes well, I'll have one on Thursday.

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