I got a flat tire yesterday. I had been planning to see a handful of wonderful people in DC but ended up staying home, and when I went to pick up Dave from the train station... whumba, whumba, whumba. Not a good sound. Also not an ignorable sound.
Flat tire. I texted Dave. His train was due in about 15 minutes, and I was only 4 blocks or so from the train station. I thought about waiting for him to get to me, but couldn't see the point of twiddling my thumbs for that long. I lugged the donut out of the trunk, and started to hop on the wrench (my bolts are ridiculously hard to loosen). All of thirty seconds later, an older man in a camouflaged shirt and duct-taped boots came over, introduced himself as Larry*, and made clear that he wasn't going to let someone's daughter struggle.
Look: I know how to change a tire. The first time I got one, I made a college friend keep me company and talk me through it. My mama raised me to be able to do what needs to be done. (Someday I'll tell you about the time I called Dave at work and said, "Remember the piece of furniture I didn't like? And you know our hand saw?") Larry clearly believed I didn't know how to do it, and that he was rescuing me. He was kind, he was protective. (He was talkative.) I was OK with letting him be my hero. And he really was-- because he wanted to be. The fact that I could have done it myself doesn't change that.
I'm still thinking about that tire today, not just because I'm grateful for Larry, but also because I'm so conscious of how lucky I am that this flat tire isn't an emergency. My first couple of years out of college, I was very, very poor, and the expense of this flat would have caused a lot of tears. Today, it's just another errand. Every time a minor hassle comes up (or even a bigger one, like last fall's flooding), I'm so grateful to be able to take it in stride. I'm aware of how many people this would be a significant hardship for, and I remember when that was true for me. I know it could always be that way again. I'm grateful that today, in this moment, something that could be hard, is easy.
*Name changed to protect the good-hearted.
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