On a Sunday evening a few months ago, Ray and I texted our kids to tell them about a mishap we had during the first day of a mini-vacation. Our son, John, texted back:
You are magnets for adventure.
After my visit to the Tennessee State Archives last Wednesday, I proved that I can be a magnet for adventure even when Ray is not along. Ray would have loved the tour of the Archives. He is also a member of the Timothy Demonbreun Heritage Society and has always accompanied me to meetings and events before. However, it had been not quite a week since he had finished his radiation treatments, and we both thought it would be best for him to stay home.
Several members of our group left the Archives to view an historic marker that mentions Timothy Demonbreun a very short distance away, almost in sight of the Archives building. The former president of our group had been to the marker before, so another member and I followed her in our cars. On our way, I made a left turn. When I did, I heard a loud noise and then the familiar thump, thump, thump of a flat tire—not a welcome sound at 4:00 in the afternoon in downtown Nashville on any day, but especially when Ray was two and a half hours away. I assumed that somehow I had hit the curb when I turned left, but I didn’t understand how that had happened. I pulled into a parallel parking space and got out to see the damage.
Both of the other ladies in our car caravan checked on me. I decided to get into the car with one of them to go the short distance down the street to view the marker, while trying to figure out what to do next.
Normally, in a situation like this, I would call Ray to ask for his help and advice. This time I thought about all he has gone through in the last few weeks and didn’t want to add another burden. I would try to get this figured out myself and then call him after things were well on their way to a solution.
While I viewed the marker with my Demonbreun cousins. . .
. . . and pondered, one of the cousins—I’ll call her Linda—told me that she would help me. Linda lives in a Nashville suburb, and eventually she told me that she would stick with me all the way and was not going to leave me. This was particularly kind because, though she and I had seen each other during Zoom meetings, we had never met in person until that day.
Ray and I subscribe to a nationally-known roadside service for situations like this, but we have been very disappointed in that service. The last time we tried to use it, they never showed up. I called a national tire company, but they told me that they could only give me a three-hour window and that even that wasn’t guaranteed. I wasn’t excited about being in a parallel parking spot on a downtown street in the dark, but I began giving them my information anyway, deciding that I would continue to look for an alternative while having them as a backup.
When I gave my location, the person on the other end of the line said, “We can’t help you if you are by the road. You have to be in a parking lot.” That was a surprise! Seeing a parking lot a few feet away, I decided to drive to it on my flat tire. When I got to its entrance, I saw that it was a restricted state lot with a gate blocking my entrance.
The lot was beside the Tennessee Bicentennial Mall, which is one of Tennessee’s state parks. Almost immediately, two park rangers walked up to see what was going on. To me they seemed like angels who had appeared from thin air. I told them that I had hit a curb. One of them pointed in the direction of where I had turned left and asked, “Over there?” I said, “Yes,” and he said, “It happens all the time. Be glad it wasn’t both tires.” He took my name to add it to their growing list of people affected by some abnormality at that intersection that keeps flattening people’s tires, so they can try to get the city to fix it. At least, I didn’t feel so silly anymore for hitting a curb.
The park rangers removed my flat tire and replaced it with my spare. They told me not to try to drive all the way home because it was too far to go on a spare tire. After filling out state paperwork confirming I wouldn’t sue the state if something was amiss after their helping me, I began calling around to find a tire. That is when I hit two snags. Place after place had a long wait, if they were open at all; and no one had a tire to fit our Honda Pilot.
Finally, about 5:30, an hour and a half after I heard the thump, thump, thump, I called my brother, who lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, which is about an hour away from Nashville. Steve owns a landscaping business and deals constantly with equipment and tires and tractors and trucks and such. I sent him a picture of the number he told me to look for on the tire. He called me back in a little while, saying that he had found a roadside service that had the needed tire and that would come to help me. Soon a man from the service called to tell me that someone would come to where I was, take my flat tire to their facility, and return with my new tire. I was grateful, but not a little frightened. Just before 6:00 p.m., I called Ray and told him about my adventure.
My new friend Linda and I sat in her car on what was by this time a dark and lonely street between the Archives and the Bicentennial Mall. I don’t remember a single car going down that street during the entire long wait that afternoon and evening. Linda assured me that she is a retired state of Tennessee probation officer and that she believed we were safe. At one point, one of the park rangers who had helped me in the afternoon came near. I told him that some guys were coming to help me with a tire and asked him if he would stay close. “I’m going to be here all night,” he reassured me.
Not long after that, two nice men arrived from Nashville Mobile Road Service.
They removed my big, hardly-worn tire from the back of our car, where it leaned on the quilts and coolers and such in our cargo area, and took it away.
As you can see, hardly worn or not, I needed a new tire.
They soon returned with a new tire on our rim and ably replaced our spare. There in the dark, one of them pulled out his cell phone and I pulled out my credit card and paid for the tire and the service call. This picture shows how dark it was then.
It was 6:51 when I called Ray to tell him the welcome news. By then Linda had cancelled her 7:00 p.m. haircut and offered for me to stay at her condo overnight. Ray encouraged me to do that.
I took Linda out for dinner and followed her to her condo, where we stayed up late swapping stories. She had a great attitude about the whole thing, saying, “This has been fun.” Linda loaned me a nightgown and gave me a toothbrush. I told her that I would slip out the next morning about 6:00 a.m. However, I awoke uncharacteristically late and very tired at 7:32 the next morning. Linda wasn’t stirring downstairs, so I quietly went out her front door and drove the two and a half hours home, stopping for a snack at Kroger early in my trip and for the most delicious hot sausage and biscuit I have ever tasted at the Sutton General Store in Granville, after I got back home to beautiful, welcoming Jackson County. Then, I drove the remaining 18 miles. Ray met me with a hug, and my adventure was over. Whew!
As John said, we are magnets for adventure. I praise God for taking care of me during my latest one. Thank You, Father, for a husband who cares, for my brother who helped me, for all the people who helped me, and for a new friend who offered hospitality.
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?