The flat tire began with a warning, “Low Tire Pressure,” appearing on the dashboard of my car and quickly accelerated or decelerated to “clank, clank, clank” as the metal wheel and the asphalt pavement joined in a cacophonous symphony, “Ode To A Flat Tire.” Cautiously we exited the Northway where a sign proclaimed, “Saratoga Race Track.”
Horses trotted in an early evening workout as we hobbled over to the side, turned off the Audi’s horsepower and settled in for what might be a torturous evening on our way to Brant Lake. Black clouds foreshadowed thunderstorms, the car was overloaded, burying the spare. I had ceased camping out-of-doors many years ago. The horse stables seemed a possible refuge. A blanket, hay–––what more could an adventurous traveler desire?
However, good fortune was with us. A tire company was located only one and a half miles away. A tow truck promised to rescue us and the weatherman calculated that the storms, with heavy winds and hail, were south of Saratoga. With such luck I should bet on the third race at Saratoga, appropriately called “The Flats,” for two-year-old fillies!
Waiting for the tow truck, I thought back to my younger days when I knew how to use the remote control on my television and to change a flat tire––– the days when my mental and physical acumen raced ahead at a gallop instead of my present condition when I barely make it onto the track!
Waiting for the tow truck I remembered the last time I had changed a tire. I had recently moved to New York City and, driving on the West Side Highway, where cars travel at 60 mph and zigzag in and out, my green Pontiac convertible had a flat tire. Passenger’s side. Rear. I pulled into an opening along the highway, located the jack, loosened the bolts holding the wheel and slowly lifted the rear of the car off the pavement.
Pride surged through me as I watched my car’s back end rise. Rubber no longer touched the pavement. Then, suddenly, I realized the front end was also being lifted from the ground. Two burly men had jacked up the perfectly fine front of the car and it was now at the same level as the back. The men were preparing to remove the front tires. I could tell that they were experienced tire removers and I needed to act fast.
“Hey,” I shouted, my voice barely audible over the roar of the highway, “Hey, what are you doing?”
“Don’t worry, buddy. You can have the back tires and we’ll take the front tires. You can’t have all the tires––– That’s the way we do it in New York. Don’t be greedy!”
“But this is my car,” I protested. The pair looked at one another, grimaced, then reluctantly packed up the tools of their trade.
“Sorry, fellow, didn’t know this was your car,” and they were off to their next victim.
As they drove away I gained a new understanding of the word partnership and decided that there are times when it is better to be in control of your own destiny. I also learned you should be careful when seeking a lift in life!