Since Lloyd ruptured his Achille's Tendon in October, he can't walk. Apparently he also can't think, because we ended up with 100 pounds less than a ton of coal in a ¾ ton trailer bed with a rusted rim and no spare. Scratch that. We had a spare. At home in Oak City. Not at the side of the road in Scipio, 45 minutes away. Since we recently purchased a 2008 Ford Explorer for just this reason, and since our son had attached the trailer and lights, Lloyd was not his usual Type A self preparing for this particular adventure. His efforts included checking the lights and finding out we had brake lights, but no signal lights. That is all.
I had made arrangements (I've been taking care of a lot of things that have little to do with ankles while Lloyd limps along in his boot.) They have everything to do with brains, and strength, and ambition, and...well, little it matters what with us now stranded next to our brimming trailer, our bent in half rim with one good tire and no spare.
There are, in fact, several places to get tires repaired and even purchase tires in Scipio, unless it's a rare, odd, 5-lug rim you are trying to find. Then, it's sit-and-fret city. That's where we sat. No solutions in sight.
We did see a well-worn little sedan pull up behind us and out walked a scruffy old guy in a flannel jacket, leaning heavily on a cane. He had several weeks worth of beard stubble and a few less teeth than he once had. He offered his help and after looking things over, suggested he drive Lloyd over the freeway overpass and ask the tire shop how they might help. Did I mention he had a massive pit bull in the passenger seat that Lloyd thought was a black lab? Apparently torn tendons can affect eyesight.
They left me there in the truck, greeting the dozen or so other smiling folks who stopped and offered help. One man stopped, and before he even said a word, I said “Our rim's bent and we don't have a spare.” I swear he grinned when he answered, “I can see that.” I can't fault him for that. He has two good ankles and would definitely have brought a spare. And a star wrench. Since new cars don't come with that, and the one we have is nestling comfortably at home with the spare tire and rim.
One mechanic loaned us a star wrench and a rim and tire to try. The tire shop also sent back a tire and rim and some hope. But nothing fit. So the man, whose name was Brad, said he was going to “tell the wife” where he was, and call his son who had a better jack than our tiny little jack-that-came-with-the-car. He was gone for a while, and Lloyd and I wondered if he just left to escape our hopeless situation. He did not. He came back with a son, a wife, another dog and a couple more tires. The trailer was now jacked up. (Jacked up, now that's funny!) and the tire, miraculously, was fine. The rim was curled over itself, having rusted out from the inside. None of the tires/rims they brought fit, although one came within a hair of it. A hair is not enough in tire world.
But that family, that ragtag band of angels, ended up staying with us for over 4 hours coming and going with an assortment of rims and tires from friends' yards and vehicles. When we finally had to give in and call a good friend to drive our spare from Oak City, they insisted on staying with us and telling funny stories to cheer us up. They would not take a dime in payment. Would. Not.
They were the salt of the earth, the meek and the humble that will inherit the earth with those good souls of theirs. I can only hope to be so Christ-like.
Finally, we were on the road. Things were going along okay. I, who had never once pulled a trailer before, drove up Scipio Canyon toward Holden. Forty miles an hour in an 80-mph speed zone. Our friend followed us, keeping an eye on the trailer. As I pulled off the exit I saw what I thought was coal bouncing out of our trailer. Just then, our friend called my cell to warn us that our tire was now throwing rubber. It was worn down to the cord.
Great. So now we had one good tire and rim on the trailer. One rim and one bad tire on the trailer. And one good tire and no rim in the car.
Do you know how tiny Holden is? While we worried ourselves sick, I suddenly remembered that a friend had opened up the little convenience store in Holden. I happened to meet this friend during an entirely different challenge and felt rescued. I said a prayer and called her. Yes, they repair tires. We limped the couple of miles to their garage, and soon had a repaired tire on the trailer again. And a tire-less rim.
Lloyd says it was a lesson hard-learned. I think it was many lessons, not the least of which was about the holiness of the “least of these”. I've met many in my day. They are angels.
Gary. Brad. Mrs. Brad. When the rubber meets the road, I want you along for the ride!