I pulled in my driveway last Tuesday and noticed the passenger side rear tire going flat.
“I think the tire is going flat,” I told Debbie as I stepped into the garage while taking a double look at the tire.
With only one vehicle in the Parker household, a flat tire puts a halt everything.
Thanks to my family, I was able to hitch a ride to and from work on Wednesday and got my tire fixed in the process.
Flat tires are part of life. I put them in the category of running out gas a mile from the station. I’ve done that several times, including when I was moving to Iowa from Oklahoma after accepting the editor’s position at the North English Record.
I ran out of gas on Interstate 44 four miles from Joplin. After calling the Missouri Highway Patrol road service and waiting for an hour, I ended up walking to a nearby rest area and calling for auto road service a second time through my insurance company.
The highway patrol offered to call for me and the officer gave the tow company wrong directions.
After three plus hours, I was back on the road and made it to Kansas City.
Back in my days of youth, I was job hunting in my hometown of Tulsa and ran out of gas. I had $3 in my pocket and a gas can in my trunk. I walked to a neighborhood gas station and used my last dime to get all the gas I could. Back in the late 70s, $3 would almost fill up your tank. I remember gas wars where gas was 19 cents or less per gallon. That’s a far cry from $3 plus gas prices today and nearly $5 a gallon a year ago.
More than once the low gas light has come on in our van. It’s my own fault. There is something about pulling into a station and filling up the van with a half a tank of gas. That’s enough gas to get to work for a couple more days.
Debbie often reminds me of the time when we were on our way for a weekend get-a-way to Hannibal, Mo. It was late and we were rolling south along Highway 61 in Missouri when I realized we were almost out of gas. Thankfully, we found a gas station a few miles down the road and I was able to top off the tank and arrive safely in Hannibal.
Another time, I was in the Bootheel of Southeast Missouri doing a story for the Missouri Magazine at Lamberts Café in Sikeston while in journalism school. I forgot to top off my tank and ran out of gas on Highway 60 between Sikeston and Dexter. God sent a couple hillbilly angels along to help me out. I got in their old beater and wondered if I would get out of alive. It all worked out as they took me to a nearby town and got me some gas and helped me get on the road again.
At least running out of gas or getting flat tire is better than smashing into one of the thousands of Iowa’s deer lurking in the road ditches.
I’ve hit four deer since moving to this fine state. The first came in the spring of 2001 shortly after moving to Montezuma from North English. I was on my way to a playoff basketball game at English Valleys when a big buck rolled out of the ditch and smashed into my company van by the East Iowa Bible Camp near Millersburg.
I just kept on driving. I stopped in Millersburg to check out the damage. I could barely open the drivers’ side door, but the old girl was still running and nothing was leaking.
The second time came as Debbie and I returned home from our honeymoon to the Great Smoky Mountains in October 2004. A big buck hit us by the Highway 63 entrance to Diamond Lake. That was an insurance nightmare that I don’t want to repeat. All I can say is, if you rent a car, buy the overpriced insurance.
I’ve hit a couple deer on the Ewart Road. One in March 2019 on the way home from an indoor track meet and a second one in September 2021 on the way to work.
My brother-in-law straightened out the big dent and we replaced the headlight and all is good with the world. Our van has 223,000 plus miles on it and it keeps on going, dents an all, like the Energizer Bunny.
Life can presents lots of challenges far greater than running out of gas, getting a flat tire or even hitting a deer. When that happens, my advice is to dig into your heart, keep believing, keep praying and keep on walking. The future is looking bright!
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.