Last night after dark, Sarah started to drive the van to care group, but turned around three houses up when she realized the tire was flat. Flat-flat, not just going flat. It was news to us; we had just driven it to the city for lunch after church on Sunday, without incident.
So Paul asked me to call GEICO first thing this morning for emergency roadside service which is covered under our policy. (He'd taken yesterday and today off to do some projects, but the flat was something he could delegate to pros.) I called right away. The driver came later than they promised, but not by much. However, there was a check in my spirit I wished I'd acted on. Paul was here, so I dismissed my skepticism, given that he didn't feel the need to babysit Joe Tow to make sure he did his work properly. The van was parked slightly out of view, so neither of us had occasion to observe the job as it progressed. I let go of anxiety, the guy changed the spare, and that was that.
Or so I thought.
The ride to school wasn't overly disconcerting, but I didn't feel the tire should be so wobbly. It wasn't a donut; it was a full-size spare. Called Paul at a long red light. He wasn't too concerned based on my description ,so I drove on to work.
However, on the ride home, I had Joel with me, and the tire was making a lot of noise, the kind that reminded me of...oh...a wheel about to come off an axle. I put on my hazards, slowed to 30 mph, and pulled over as soon as I could. The tire didn't feel as tight as I would've liked, but I chalked it up to Zo-Don't-Know-Jack-or-how-to-use-one-Anyway. Ignorant of auto mechanics and maintenance, to my shame. I got back in, kept the hazards on, and steadied the wheel in both hands at 30 mph.
Five minutes later I was on a busier road. The noise was growing louder, if not in reality then certainly in my imagination. I pictured the tire rolling into oncoming traffic and causing a horrible accident. So I crept on, praying for wisdom and protection. Once again, I pulled over, let speeding traffic pass, and then jiggled the driver's front passenger tire. I tugged on the lug nuts. They budged a little. Oh, great! They should not do that! I tightened them as hard as I could, which was a fraction of an inch. Then I decided to take a road of slower speed, albeit one with no shoulder.
Up one hill, down another, and it started to feel really shaky--and so did I. Finally I pulled over into a parking lot five minutes from home and called Paul. Once again I thanked God for the perfect timing. Paul came right away, despite wanting to be on the other end of town for a doctor's appointment. (He had 40 minutes to spare--get it--spare?--but he's the type who likes to be early.) We switched vehicles and I watched him muscle the lug nuts with a wrench from his own trunk. He got probably four or five 30-degree turns when he tried.
I love watching him do manly things like that. I don't know what it is, I guess the feeling of being protected and cared for by someone with heart, brains, and biceps. The feeling never gets old. But I digress. (Or maybe I don't. Maybe this is the soul of my post--the feelings that come and remind me of what a wonderful man I married, the guy who, on his days off, takes his son to school, rakes a half acre of leaves, has blood drawn, folds laundry, paints bathroom trim, and rescues his damsel in distress.)
He muttered something that suggested incompetence on the tow guy's part, and tossed the wrench back into the trunk. He then drove the silver horse home, in case it bucked, while letting me and the papoose take the trusty black stallion. I felt protected once again by my knight in blue jeans.
At home I called the tow company to complain about the job they'd done. They apologized. I then called GEICO with the report and they sent out my favorite company to tighten the lug nuts the right way. I'm a big fan of this company; they've bailed us out before and I wished I'd requested them in the first place, rather than settle for the other one.
But then again, had this reliable company come first, I wouldn't have experienced any of the drama of a late-afternoon van ride, nor the ensuing heart-pounding thrill of seeing my prince do what he does best most often--prove his love with wrenches and rakes instead of with roses and romance.