Rolling along, with lessons learned 

There are lessons to be learned every day.

Some aren’t easy or pleasant, but they still impact your life. For example, clean your trunk. Buy the warranty. Don’t trust leaves on a quiet street.

I learned those three the hard way recently. I was driving down a side street in Sioux Falls when my car passed over a thin pile of leaves.

Thump! The right front tire dropped into a hole that had been hidden by the leaves. I pulled out of it and moved ahead a few feet and stopped.

The dashboard shows the air pressure on my tires. It revealed the pressure on the front passenger tire was dropping, dropping, dropping ...

I wondered if I could still make it to the tire store when I had bought three tires this spring, while hoping the passenger front tire was one of that trio. After a block or two, I realized it would not go that far, so I pulled over into an oil company’s lot, quiet and empty on a late Saturday afternoon.

By now, the pressure was below 10. I surmised there was a problem.

After calling the tire store, I was told if I made it there in the next 45 minutes, they would get me back on the road. The only problem was, I hadn’t changed a tire in many, many years.

After checking to see if the warranty covered this — it didn’t — I set to work. First, I needed to extract my spare tire, which was buried in the trunk.

I had to remove a few things — like books, newspapers, shoes, my softball glove and numerous other items that were lodged in my trunk for some reason — I reached the spare. The jack was right next to it.

So far, so good. But after rolling the small spare out, I looked for a wrench. No luck. Some colorful words were expressed, as I recall.

Just then, a car pulled up and a man emerged from it, smiling as he looked on. I asked him if he had a wrench, and he said the jack handle actually served as one. I had considered that earlier but it seemed lodged within the jack.

Now, I tried again and it popped up. Yes, it did fit the lugnuts. The man — and I wish I had asked his name — walked over the showed me the proper technique while also pointing out the proper place for the jack. Soon, the bolts that held the tire in place were coming loose.

I had changed a few tires decades earlier and it all came back to me as I quickly removed the flat and replaced it with the spare. The helpful man, who was there to pick up a truck, drove by to check on me and waved as he rolled past.

I repacked the trunk and headed to the tire store. They were still open and indeed, the tire was one I had purchased a few months earlier. The warranty was good.

In less than an hour, and for just $17, I had a new tire and was back on the road, glad it had not cost more and pleased that I could still change a flat tire.

So, what did we learn? Spend a few extra dollars and buy the warranty. Don’t just throw stuff into your trunk, because someday you may regret that. And you can do something you haven’t for some time if you really need to do so.

Oh, and most people are kind and willing to help. That was probably the most important lesson I was reminded of that day.

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