Flat Tires & Pride

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was a little surprised to get a flat tire on my returning trek from a speaking engagement. A little unprepared, too.

Actually, really unprepared. I had pulled to a side road that looked relatively less life-threatening than the one I was on, hopped out of the van, and made the circle to investigate which one had given out on me. Oh dear. The back right tire was as flat as they get! Or at least, as flat as any flat tires I've ever seen (which is flat; no need to question what I've seen). For one small moment, I imagined myself under the van, jacking it up, and heroically, triumphantly slicking on the spare tire like a slab of butter on hot toast. Nope. Not today, anyway.

I jumped back inside, locked the doors and pressed, "2" on my phone. "2" is the speed dial for Dad. "2" is my version of OnStar. "2" is strangely more worn and smudged than 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 0. I don't know why. But anyway, back to calling Dad.

"Hi, Dad!"
"Hi, Emily, how did it go?"
"It went really, really well. Couldn't have gone better! Ihaveaflattire."



"I got a flat tire."

I think Dad let out a long sigh at this point, or quietly groaned, or something similar to what dad's do when they get these kind of calls. I shifted the steering wheel up, got comfortable and insouciantly listened as Dad contemplated how to proceed. We have 3 vehicles, all of which were many miles away from home at the moment. Dad had 2 ways to get to me: the "A" (our John Deere tractor), and, "I could ride my bike!" he said. Only a 35 mile venture on a mid-December day. He said he'd call me back after he had time to think about what to do.

A little over half an hour later, a friend from church pulled up behind me. With the driver of one of our vehicles possessing no cell phone, and the driver of the other well on her way to another state, Dad had asked this friend to come rescue me. In the mean time, I had found an internet connection, surfed the web, cleaned up the van, perused the photos from my camera, and looked up "How to Change a Flat Tire" in the little Ford Windstar manual.

Help was a welcome sight, especially with the sun quickly setting. Mr. Helper Man had a "Field Day" at work, so was conveniently equipped with dirty trousers and gloves in his back seat. He set right to work on my troubles and I began to make conversation with his wife, who was sitting in the passenger seat of their car. Turns out this was their date night. "Oh, no, I'm so sorry!" I said, cringing. I had just shrink-wrapped their beautiful, romantic night out on the town away from 6 effervescent, bouncy kids. They were, however, characteristically gracious, and due to their chosen disposition, probably had just as much fun fixing a tire as touring some museum downtown.

"Could you put the parking brake on for me, Emily?" Mr. Helper Man called out.
"Sure!"  I replied as I put myself back in the driver's seat of the van. My heart stopped. Parking brake . . . parking brake . . . where is the parking brake . . . !  Doesn't the parking brake belong to the left of the normal brake?! I concluded that either (a.) someone had moved it or (b.) this van was missing a few pieces. I glanced nervously in the rearview mirror and saw him coming my way. 5 seconds later, the parking brake was on and I was slithering out of the chair again.

Mr. Helper Man's Wife and I carried on our conversation as I kept my hands warm in my pockets. I'm not sure what all I had in my pockets, but whatever the eccentricities were, I was shuffling, jingling and tousling them 'til the jangling even sounded dizzy.


Mr. Helper Man looked up at me from his post at the tire. My eyes shot wide open and I looked at him. Wow! Do they really hide some kind of alarm button down there by the thing that holds the tire on?! I hastened to the driver's side of the van again, until I realized that on this particular vehicle, all the buttons on the key chain button-thing actually work, one of which was a big red "alarm" button, which I had somehow managed to set off while jingling my pocket. I pulled it out, pressed the alarm button off, and laughed sheepishly at Mr. Helper Man. He started working again.

After discovering the spare tire was pretty low, Mr. Helper Man's Wife and I took their car to a nearby gas station to fill it up. They charged a quarter for air there, and between the 2 of us, we only had her credit card, so she went in to get a dollar after asking,

"Could you open the trunk while I'm gone?" 
"Sure!" I said again. (Why do I always do that??)

I took the keys - there were 3. This I can do. This would not be hard. This is not beyond me. I tried key #1. I tried key #2. I tried key #3. I tried key numbers 1, 2, and 3 backwards, upside down and forwards, glancing to my left and right, trying to huddle closer to the car in an effort to hide my relationship with the trunk lock and appear calm and in control. Looking behind me, I saw Mr. Helper Man's Wife keeling over in laughter.

"Things like this really make you feel like a girl, don't they?" she was still laughing. At me. I mumbled something under my breath and sank into the anonymity that the shadows inside the car provided. I really wanted this night to be over.

It was as I was reflecting on the events of yesterday that I remembered that the difference between humility and humiliation is pride. Similar words, but humility can be described as recognizing that it is actually God and others that are responsible for the achievements in my life, and humiliation might be described as how we feel when our pride has been damaged in some way.

Photos by © Prairie View Communications, LLC

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