A not so great reminder of why living in the mid-west is GREAT.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the “silver lining” when the clouds continually present themselves.  I decided to create my own meaning for a few could-have-been-disasterous events which have happened recently.  And I relate this meaning to reminding myself why I love living in the mid-west.

Earlier this month my family and I were riding back to Kansas City through the scenic Flint Hills.  We decided to get an early start on the travel home so that we would have some relaxation time when we got there, turns out we needed that relaxation time for a major hiccup in our plans.  Less than thirty minutes into our journey my husband had to pull to the side of the road as the driver’s side front tire deflated.

Together we maneuvered our 2 dogs, yes our whole family was in the vehicle, from the back to the front in order to get to the spare.  Unfortunately, we lacked the key needed to remove the flat tire from the car.  Standing dumbfounded on the side of the interstate with the Acura manual open, a truck pulled up behind us.  A gentleman from a small town, also headed east for a meeting the next day, offered to help us.  He was off duty and employed by the department of transportation.  After figuring out there was nothing we could do to change to the spare without the key the gentleman took my husband into the nearest town to find a way to rectify our situation.

My toddler loved the opportunity to play around in the front seat as we waited for their return.  She bounced around smiling, turning the stereo up and down dancing, and pretending to steer the wheel.  Luckily the weather was perfect to have the windows down and feel a cool breeze.  I made a conscious effort not to look at the time, as I knew it would make the minutes cooped up in the car on the interstate progress in slow motion.

Her entertainment distracted me from two other vehicles who separately pulled up behind us to check on our wellness.  I was surprised each time to see a friendly smile appear at the window asking if we were okay.  Living in the mid-west where it is not out of the ordinary for people to go out of their way to help each other, it still seemed extraordinary that we would have so many generous offers for help.  I believe the larger of my protective guard dogs sensed the sincerity in their offers since he did not bark at the strangers.  In fact, the only noise he made was growling at the curious herd of cows coming to the fence to inspect our situation.

During the time my husband was away, a third car pulled up making that four individuals stopping all together.  This time it was a highway patrol officer and after hearing our situation put his lights on behind us and stayed until their return.  The officer eventually assisted us in calling a tow-truck as we discovered there was no way to unlock the tire and put on the spare.  Despite being irritated from our derailed trip home, my husband and I enjoyed the conversations with the tow-truck driver and highway patrol man as they brought us into town.  The Manhattan Wreckers driver and I discussed my afternoon on the highway and the unexpected offers of help I received.  He recalled his experience with the tornado that came through town three years ago and how members of the community chipped in to ensure everyone was taken care of.  

My poor dogs were stressed enough from the days events and finally we were at the brink of getting new tires and ready to head home.  Another saving grace to the day happened to be friends in town who picked up our pets to give them a break from being in the car and some time to play in a backyard.  We are forever, and repeatedly indebted to the Schottlers, for everything they do for us!

Eventually we made it home tired and safe, adding about 7 hours to what we anticipated it would take for our ride home.  The car had a full set of new tires and drove smooth again.

Exactly nine days later, in our other vehicle, I was again on I-70 when I felt the same feeling of the tire deflating.  “CRAP – How could this happen again?” I thought as I pulled to the side of the interstate.  Determined to be an independent woman and put the spare on all by lonesome, my aspirations were squashed when I couldn’t event figure out how to get the jack to loosen from the side compartment in the trunk.  

Midwest generosity to the rescue again…  A friendly stranger happened to stop behind me to check his own equipment at first and when he realized I was in need of help set aside his own priorities to make sure I was taken care of.  While initially I asked for help loosening the jack, he insisted on completing the whole job.  While he cranked the car up he told me about the grinder he had just purchased and the inventions he had made and sold.  I got a lesson in recycling carpet for plastics and oil, more importantly I received a lesson in going out of my way for others in need.

While I may not be of much assistance pulling over to help someone with a flat tire, there has to be more ways I can pay it forward in order to repay the individuals who have helped me.  These two incidences of flat tires in such a short period of time initially had me irritated and wondering why I had such negative karma being delivered to me.  After the bitterness settled, these situations reinforced my faith in the people living in the community around me.  It is nice to know I’m not all alone when I need help.  Despite the craziness of the world there are good people who do good things with no expectations of a return on their investment.


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