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  • Writer's pictureBrian Wells

Lessons From A Pothole

I am writing this week's blog post, soaked to the bone, stranded at our local gas station, nursing a hot coffee and waiting for a tow truck. My son and I spent the evening teaching at Willard, the local ski mountain. The weather conditions tonight were less than optimal. Spring like weather has set in a bit early. And tonight it started raining. The runs were icy. Thankfully we walked off the mountain under our own power. And thankfully our students did as well.

We headed home. Brian J was driving. I was in the passenger seat, trying to connect to a Zoom meeting. Just as the meeting connected, Brian J went into a large puddle. And in the middle of that puddle evidently was a large and deep pothole. While he certainly was not speeding, we hit the hole hard. Immediately the tire pressure light came on. And I knew we were in for a long night.

We pulled into a parking lot. And sure enough, the tire was flat; totally flat. But the local gas station with free air was less than a block away. So I thought, "hey, we'll limp it there. I'll put some air in it. And we'll be on our way. "

No such luck. The gas station has one of those fancy electronic air pumps. It seems that it won't fire up if it doesn't sense any air pressure. And trust me, there's no pressure in that tire. At all.

I logged off the Zoom call and decided that this was going to be a great teaching moment for Brian J. He and I would bond as father and son, changing a flat tire in the rain. And so we dug through the ski gear, removed the spare tire, jack and lug wrench. And of course the rain continued to fall.

As I knelt down to begin the process of teaching Brian J how to change a tire, I realized something. The lug wrench doesn't fit the lugs. It's the lug wrench that came with the car. I don't think it's ever been out of the vehicle. I'm pretty sure the rims are stock rims. They say "Ford" on them. But, things just don't match up.

Now, normally I'd call Bonnie and have her come with the truck to rescue me. I think I have a 4 way lug wrench in the truck, but if not, the auto parts store and Tractor Supply aren't that far away. I'd go buy one. But, the Ranger is dead. The Subaru is in the shop. We are currently a one vehicle family. So Bonnie to the rescue just wasn't an option.

And so I called my mechanic for rescue. Now, to me, having to call a tow truck to help you change a tire is lame. Unless you're elderly or infirmed, it's pretty embarrassing. Hosting a podcast about self-sufficiency and self-reliance makes it that much worse. Of course, add the fact that I'm the Scoutmaster of my son's troop, and the guy who is supposed to "Be Prepared" isn't. My ego is taking blows left and right.

But, as we sat there in the gas station waiting for my mechanic to show up, my son had some friends stop by and offer to help. They rummaged through their truck. Unfortunately, their tire iron didn't fit. But they tried. And then another guy walked in. I'd never met him before. But, he walked up and asked me if I was the one with the flat tire. He actually hit the same pothole and had just finished changing his tire and wondered if maybe his tire iron would fit our lugs. It didn't, but he tried.

Eventually my mechanic showed up, we changed the tire out and headed home. And now I am finishing this post up from the dry warmth and comfort of the homestead. But tonight reminded me of a few things.

First, life doesn't always go according to plan. In fact, most of the time it doesn't. And we've got to be ok with that. We've got to be willing to adapt, switch gears, try new things and problem solve. On the homestead or off, sometimes we are going to find ourselves in over our heads. That's life. And it's ok.

Secondly, we need to be reminded of the good in our world. Currently it seems like our world is so divided. Rich versus poor. Black against white. Republican versus Democrat. Maskers versus anti-maskers. Old versus young. The list could go on and on. But, when I was sitting there with a flat tire, those teenagers didn't ask me about any of that stuff. They saw a friend in need and tried to help. The guy that went out of his way to look for me didn't ask me my political affiliation, my perspective on COVID or my opinion on social justice issues. He saw a flat tire. And he thought maybe he could help. Are we as divided as the media portrays us? Maybe. But, I don't think so.

But, most of all I had an opportunity to make memories with Brian J. Had everything gone according to plan, we would probably forget about tonight within a week. But, twenty years from now, I'd like to think that we'll be sitting around and he'll say to me, "Hey dad, remember that night when we were heading home from Willard and I hit that pothole and we ended up soaking wet at Stewart's drinking coffee together waiting for the tow truck because the lug wrench didn't fit? Those were good times." And I'll say, "Yes they were!"

Until next week, keep up the good work!


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