It's a bright, almost sunny day in the North Carolina mountains after days of drenching rain. A middle-aged woman of fairly good repute is driving down the road in a minivan with three of her children. Her husband is tailing her in their small Corolla with the other two. They woke up early because they need to get back to Cary in good time. The husband has been asked to be in the bishopric of their ward and he is supposed to be sustained by the congregation that morning.
The woman is talking to her husband on her cell phone. She hears a popping noise and sees something shoot out from beneath her tires. The car begins to feel a little bumpy as it drives along the road, so she switches lanes, thinking it is a lane problem. Hoping it is a lane problem.
Suddenly there is a helicopter right above her head. She can hear the blades beating so close, almost as if the helicopter were riding on top of her car. Or maybe beneath her car.
It takes a few seconds, but she soon realizes the helicopter is not above or beneath her car. There is no helicopter at all. Her tire has exploded.
Since she is in the left lane of the highway, she pulls over to the left. She is not thinking about safety. She is thinking about helicopters and getting to church on time and how she never gets flat tires because she is smarter than that.
But she is apparently not smarter than that, and when her husband pulls up behind her after she calls him to explain that the wobbly road was not a wobbly road but a blown-apart tire, he points out that it isn't safe to be pulled over on the left side of a 70 mph highway, especially when you have not pulled over very far.
So her job, while he puts on the spare, is to force the children to stay on the grass in the middle of the highway because her husband won't let them sit in either car in case another car plows into them. (As if we would be safe in the middle of the grass on the highway if a car plowed into our car. But I digress.)
The spare is flat (this is discovered after the tire is put on), and triple AAA does not bring tires or repair men or babysitters to assist you on the road. And they charge four dollars per mile for towing after the first three miles.
Why do people buy Triple AAA?
I don't know.
After two hours of roadside frustration and stewing, Shaemus, the seven year old, suggests the following:
"Why doesn't Dad go buy a tire and bring it back here and put it on?"
Why doesn't he? We have two cars. That is an excellent question.
After a lot of phone calls to determine who is open and if they have the right tire, the husband jets off to the nearest Walmart twenty minutes away, buys a new tire, comes back, and puts it on. Finally the family is on their way, catching just the last hour of church.
Thank goodness for seven year olds.
I learned a lot of things through this experience. First, Sam and I aren't so good in a crisis. I tend to think everything is funny and am completely useless and Sam tends to think people are going to die.
Neither of us think, wait, we have TWO cars here, and the other car is fine and can provide help for the troubled car.
The moral of the story? Don't get flat tires.
Here are some pics and videos of our week at fiddle camp.