Saturday, April 21, 2007

Flat tire work.

Well, I had a tire on my truck go flat on me, last night coming home from work. I realized that it was flat when I turned off of the shortcut road I take, onto the Highway 2 which leads to my driveway, about 2 miles from one point to the next. I had felt my truck dragging, and then when I made that left turn, boy then, I knew that I had a flat tire. The right rear tire.

Thinking that I couldn't make it on that flat the rest of the 2.5 miles to my driveway, I pulled over onto the shoulder, got out the truck and examined the tire like some boob: "Yep, that there's one flat tire, alright." The other half of my brain agreed, "Yep, an' I don't think yew kin drive any more on that flat tare, yew better change it."

Now, my ride home from work is almost never punctuated with traffic; I take the short cut between Hwys. 69 and 2, late at night, and miss all of the McAlester city traffic as well as the speed trap in Haileyville. And though the road twists and turns alot, passing farms and herds of cattle, I rarely pass more than two automobiles that way.

So, I took off my coat and tie, rolled up my sleeves and get under the hood of my Ford F-150, to get the tool needed to lower the spare, and the jack and a flashlight from inside, from the back of my seat. And I turn on my flashers, like a good driver, alerting all that non-existing traffic of my presence there on the side of the road.

No sooner than I had begun to lower my spare from under the truck bed, I saw a set of headlights topping the hill in front of me. The vehicle topped the hill and came to a stop next to my disabled truck. The driver rolled down the window of the vehicle, and asked, "Having trouble tonight?"

It was my neighbor down the hill from me, Wanda. 'Crazy Wanda' we all called her, with good reason, too.
"Hi, Wanda, it's just me... Flat tire. But the spare is alright. (Lots of Indian cars either have no spare, or don't bother to check the inflation of the spare) Everything is under control," I finished.
(Now Wanda is a nut. She's like 70, but acts like she's 20, only with a walker. And she talks nonstop. I mean, NONSTOP! She can talk a BlueStreak. That's how she became known as crazy Wanda)
"Ya got any beer?" she asked.
"No, I just got off work" I sternly told her.

"Well, I have a twelve-pack here, I'll turn around, and help you, as I can," she announced.

Wanda wheeled her Buick around, so that her headlights illuminated my task ahead of me. Then she exited, with a cold one in each hand, and handed me one of them. And I took it, gratefully.
"Did I tell you that my cousin Bud had a heart attack?" (The blitz had begun, I thought. Oh, Lord, this will never end....) She continued: "He applied for a State troopers' position, and on the day he was to take the medical exam, he had a heart attack, Now Bud was my cousin who lived in a little spot, just a little spot in the road called 'McKinney', and he tried to get on with the state........"

I had already tuned her out, instead, focusing on my job at hand, changing my tire.

(Oh, and Wanda has this special talent-- of being reminded of YET another story, before she ends the first story that she's telling, ad infinitum, until you are about 19 totally, unrelated stories into her spiel, while both of us have forgotten what story number 1 was even about)
Along about separate and distinct story number 3, I noticed that another car was coming, this time, from down Highway 2, from the direction of our two houses. "Watch out Wanda," I interrupted her, "here comes a car, be careful."

This second car also pulls next to where I am disabled, and the electric window on the passenger side of the vehicle buzzes down. "Is everything OK here, anybody hurt?" was the driver's question.

"No, gran-pap, I just had a flat tire. The spare's OK, and I'm just about to change it." I recognized my old friend, Granpappy Spears, an ancient Choctaw man, who lives with his equally elderly wife, just a ways down, on the east side of the lake. "Isn't it really late for you to be out driving?" I realized, then asked him. He was old, 25 years ago, too.

"Yes, it is. I've come from dropping off my sister, Polly, at the Wilburton Bus Station. She caught the last bus out for Dallas tonight." Now, the time was now 11:30 or so, and so I asked: "When did her bus leave?"

He replied that Polly's bus left out at 9:00 pm. That sounded about right.... you see, Granpappy Spears is known world-wide to be the slowest driver in the world. His TOP SPEED is about 25 mph. So I figured, humm, about 32 miles to Wilburton from here, yeah, that would be about right for Granpappy Spears' way of driving. Anyway, he asked, "Can I help you change your tire, son?"

"No, Granpap, I think that we've got it under control." But he pulled over anyway, just ahead of my truck, flipped on his flashers, and walked back to Wanda and me. When he did, I hid my beer behind the flattened tire, because Granpappy Spears is a deacon in my church.

So there we were, three of us, watching one of us work on my flat tire. Me, doing the work, Wanda acting as supervisor and waitress, and Granpappy Spears, who knelt down with me while holding my flashlight, and handed me lug nuts to replace onto my axle.

Wanda was the first to speak up, naturally. "Ya know, I'm having a problem with a water leak under my bathroom faucet. Could you come by my house and take a look at it? She then went into a story about how Mr. Fulcher used to be her plumber, but not in the last two years, since he took up with that Jezebel, Miriam. " Of course, Wanda, would about 10 am tomorrow be OK?" I asked of her. But she never replied, because Miriam the Jezebel reminded her of some other gossipy story that she had to tell us.

"Oh, and could you come over to my place tomorrow, also?" Gran-pappy asked. "The chicken wire around my chicken house has been ripped somehow, and I've lost three good laying hens. You are so good at putting up fencing son, I'd sure like your help." He said this with a special gesture of his hand which held out my next lug nut to affix, -- what could I say??

What I said to him was "Hey, here comes a car, up the hill, watch out everyone." This third vehicle also pulled to a stop, and the driver was my old high school friend, Joel, in his car. He rolled down his window to ask "Everything alright? Is anybody hurt?"
I told Joel that everything was OK, just a flat, and some helper-outters.
"I recognized your truck, and thought I'd stop and ask,"
"Thanks Joel, but we've got it. In fact, I'm almost done changing tires." I told him.

Joel is a neat-freak. Period. Not gay or anything, but he is the most wanted guest at any get-together because he won't leave until the whole place is clean, looking as good as new. "Can I throw some beer cans into your bed, dude? I don't want my parents to see them around, ya know."

"Sure, Joel, toss em," I said, as I hauled up the flat into my truck's bed.
Instead, Joel puts his Trans-Am into park, steps out and unloads a big black garbage bag full of aluminum cans into my truck bed. Then he wipes his hands onto his pressed trousers, clean. "Thanks, dude. That keeps my mother off my ass for another week. See ya!" With that, Joel got back into his car and drove off, toward his parents' place where he still lived, at age 37.

With the spare tire firmly on my axle now, and the flat one in the bed next to about $12.00 worth of empty, aluminum beer cans, I thanked Gran-pappy and Wanda for their help, saw them both to their vehicles safely, and returned to the cab of my truck, shaking my head in utter bewilderment at the sudden traffic jam along a very rural part of state Highway 2. I got home just fine, thank ya'll very much, but now fully reminded of how much we all do really depend upon each other.

Today, I have spent $60 dollars in parts to repair both a leaky bathroom tap for Wanda's bathroom, and on chicken wire and two 8-foot garden posts, to mend Gran-pap's chicken coop fence.
It was 4:45 pm when I finished my "thank you" chores.

But, far more than just the minimum assistance which I received from my neighbors last night, I feel a good, Christian sense of accomplishment today.

I can't thank these three oddballs enough for stopping last night, to inquire into my needs, whether I knew of them at that time, or not.


Abouna said...

The Lord works in strange ways, and he had a purpose for you to get that thar flat, and for them folks to stop by. I think His plan was for them to get help with their needs and for you to get that sense of accopmlishment and doing a good deed.

The Localmalcontent said...

Oh, sure, that is right. We all need each other, whether to hold a flashlight, or to repair plumbing for a widow. The Lord does indeed, work in mysterious ways.