Why does it seem like that every time you think you're getting ahead, life, or God, throws you a little curveball letting you know you're not. That was the situation I found myself in Monday evening, when I got a flat tire while in Wilmington, Del.
I go to Delaware once a month to attend a support group for depression. It's held at a church located right off of Route 202, about a mile on the other side of the Pa. border. Believe me, the fact it's right off the main road and not on some convoluted back road is the only reason I make the trek there. It's also a good group, making the 40-minute drive well worth it.
I'm pretty much the only regular attendee from Pa., so once the meeting ends, I usually high tail it out of there. No lingering for small talk. No helping to put things away... it's time to go home, especially after working all day.
It was a little before 9 p.m. when I got to my car. A note was sticking out of the driver's door - "your right, rear tire is flat", the note read. I walked around and felt the tire, sure enough it was. Fortunately, most everyone was still there, and one nice gentleman offered to change the tire for me and, since I had just recently cleared out my trunk, it wasn't arduous to get to. Believe me, I've been in situations where I've needed to basically unpack my trunk to get to the spare, or donut. But it didn't matter anyway because my donut was busted too. It had some gash in it. "You might want to replace the donut," the kind gentleman suggested.
Another person had an air pump. He filled the tire up and, in doing so, we determined it wasn't actually the tire that was the problem, but the stem valve, which was releasing air. We filled the tire up, and he followed me to the next gas station so we could check how the tire was holding up. It was still good to go, so I said I could probably make it home, that I would just travel in the right lane, take it slow and stop periodically to check it.
No sooner had I bid goodnight to my good Samaritans and was back on the road, I could feel the tire going clump, clump, clump... I pulled into a service station and attempted to explain my dilemma to the non-English speaking attendant. By this point I was thinking to myself that I should have just stayed at the church parking lot since there appeared to be a service station adjacent to the lot and I could just talk to them in the morning. Especially since nothing could be done about it until morning.
So now my focus was on how to get home. The non-English speaking attendant said I could leave the car at the station for the night. What would we do without hand gesturing? Only I don't have a cell phone and already knew the attendant wasn't going to let me use the phone there since he had already said no to another customer who came in complaining about how the payphone had eaten up $1 of his money. "No, phone... no, phone..." the attendant repeated. That customer stormed out; I have a calling card, so I didn't even bother to try to use money. I called Nancy, ever so grateful she answered since she usually doesn't answer calls that she doesn't recognize the number.
Afterwards, I called Micki to secure a ride to work in the morning, and my mom to say I was broken down at a gas station where nobody speaks English and I was scared out of my pants. She calmed me down and told me to just lock myself in the car until Nancy got there.
En route home, I relayed the whole episode to her, took a breath and said, "Well, I guess I have my column for this week."