I have two very good flat tire stories….no, threee! Here they are in chronological order:
During the late 80s, an often quite fluster-y friend was driving us to his place on the east side of Detroit when we got a flat. He quietly swore once as we got out of the car. He opened the trunk, got out the tools and the dibby dibby tire (an onomatopoeic Jamaican nickname for undersized spares), and set to work w/o another word. Though normally talkative, I also remained silent during the entire operation, not daring to risk one of his many dramatic meltdowns. I was amazed that he didn’t throw a screeching fit, and how efficiently and quickly he changed the tire. We easily made it to our destination. He didn’t even whine to his roommates, one of whom drove me back across town (also w/o complaint) when the time came.
During the mid-90s Mom and I were crossing Woodward Ave at Mack, which at the time was a much-potholed intersection. It was a bitter cold January evening. We hit something just the wrong way and a tire blew. Mom pulled over right after we’d crossed the intersection, and turned off the car. As she was about to get out, the valet parking chap from the hoity toity music center (it was on the corner) appeared at her window. He told us he saw what had happened, and offered to change the tire! He even told us to stay in the car so we wouldn’t freeze, as mom popped the trunk. He began changing the tire, and apologized when he had to stop and park a customer’s car. Mom told him there was no need for him to apologize for doing his actual job.
The two of us discussed his tip when he was almost finished (he was V quick!), and I suggested $20. She said she was thinking $10; I pointed out how cold it was, he was so solicitous & kind as he rescued us, that there was all this traffic on the street, and how quickly he was changing it. She agreed, and insisted when he politely declined the offered tip.
[Ed. Note: This one is the longest, but it is also the best one.]
A month later, mom, her then-BF and I were driving from the airport in Montego Bay on Jamaica’s West Coast to the small place on the North Coast where we stayed. Mom had been warning him about the jagged edge of the road, but he would keep drifting over, and he hit the edge. We naturally got a flat.
W/o a word I slid across the back seat & jumped out as mom verbally laid into him. I leaned in his window to hit the button to open the hatch. I was smiling, intuitively knowing everything would be fine. I then began pulling out all our big heavy luggage so he could access the tools and spare. Only one was left when he joined me, and he was shocked that I’d done it at all, let alone so cheerfully & quickly. (My surprising upper body & arm strength back then was belied by my slight frame [those were the days!!!] and small stature.) Mom sat in the car and fumed for a few minutes, then got out so she could yell at him some more.
I walked a little ways and happily looked around at The Bush surrounding the road. An expensive all-inclusive hotel’s expensive bus fulla mascots (tourists) drove by, a little more slowly than the other traffic. A woman inside it gave me a horrified stare, so my smile quickly melted and I gave her a horrified stare right back. I laughed once the bus had passed, knowing the woman was horrified by The Very Thought of getting a flat in a third world country; I was (and am) horrified by The Very Thought of being on a bus loaded with mascots on its way to an all-inclusive!
I walked into The Bush alongside the road to escape the road and mom’s yelling. I went a short way and found myself on a lovely rocky outcrop overlooking the bright green/blue/turquoise Caribbean, the road noise and mom all but silenced by the lush growth behind me. I breathed in the warmth, the sunshine, the breeze, the bliss - and winter left my bones.
I went back to the road after a few minutes, and mom said she’d just been wondering where I’d gone. I smiled, took her hand, and silently led her down the road and into The Bush, ignoring her questions and complaints. When she saw the sea, she gasped at the beauty of the scene before her. All her anger left her, and I said, “You know, of all the places to get a fucking flat…“ then added, "This sure beats hell outta Mack and Woodward!” She laughed, and after a few enjoyable minutes we went back to the car.
A cop car pulled up and stopped behind us as we returned, and two gorgeous young men hopped out. One had on the uniform trousers but a polo shirt; the other wore a uniform shirt and a pair of his own shorts. The one in the shorts had a yo-yo. (I swear to God/dess I’m not making up any of this!) They greeted us, and immediately one of them took over from mom’s BF, and rapidly finished putting on the dibby dibby tire, as he called it. We laughed, loving the silly slang. He also hipped us to the much sillier term foo foo tire, which made us laugh even more.
When he was done, we warmly thanked them for at least the tenth time. After asking, “Which one of you is the boss?” mom insisted on giving him a sort-of tip, and said their first post-work drinks were on her.