Well, its “Flat Tire Monday”. Not really a weekly celebration, more of a “happens only on frigid, snowy mornings after you’ve trudged up a hill with a four-year old and are late for pre-school” kind of deal. This year it falls on December 9th, but as it is an off-year there is a possible recurrence in mid February. Be sure to mark your calendars.

With the whole Christmas  thing first and foremost on my mind, I completely forgot to check all tires for said holiday; but it all clicked into place about 2 miles into our drive when I couldn’t decide if it was just the ice packed roads making that horrible sound, or if they had decided to install rumble strips right in the middle of my lane. That shaking feeling was a little “off” as well.  My powers of deduction clicked into place immediately eventually and I pulled into our neighbor’s drive. It’s a long, steep, winding drive that climbs  to meet a beautiful home on the hill.  I’ve always loved this house. It was built in the French Chateau style and overlooks the valley and river. I’ve often wondered what it must be like in the winter to try to navigate that drive. I’d have my answer in under 30 minutes, but that’s skipping ahead slightly.

The tire had moved well beyond flat and into the realm of nonexistent – somewhat detached from the rim and bearing the shape of one of those surreal melting clocks in all those Dali posters people hang to prove their deep understanding of art.

We weren’t driving anywhere on THAT, and so it was time to marshal  the troops. A few quick calls and mom was on her way to take a panicked Thatcher to school, Brian had called a tow truck and I discovered that I did, indeed have a spare tire hidden in the secret floorboard of my trunk. Who knew?

Nothing to do now but wait for help and enjoy the warm car and a little solitude. It took a minute for me to notice the grey Jeep creeping down the hill. Apparently the driver had managed the first leg of the journey only to find herself sideways at the first bend in the road. Seeing as how I was squatting at their mailbox, I thought it prudent to introduce myself and assure them that I had the situation completely under control. I had nearly closed the distance between us when the Jeep began to creep forward, and then to slide. As the vehicle slipped past I calculated the wide-eyed, panic-stricken driver to be all of 17. In those few seconds we had a lovely conversation the went something along the lines of:

“Hello. Who are you?”

“My name is Nicole. It’s nice to meet you. I have had bit of car troubles but have contacted a tow truck and will be out of your hair in no time. And, as you can see, I have the situation completely under control.”

“Yes, well, I am not so certain I care all that much at this moment seeing as how I am careening to my death – and toward your car incidentally.”

“Ah, so you are. Well, I’ll follow you down I suppose. Don’t panic, as I’ve said, it’s completely under control.”

I figured the best plan was to try to follow as quickly as possible and offer helpful driving advice such as “make sure its in low” and “do you have it in 4 wheel drive?”. My words of wisdom fell flat, her tires remained locked and she picked up some serious speed. I was silently bidding my little silver car a fond farewell when the miraculous occurred and the Jeep found its footing, the inevitable collision avoided by inches.

I never did get her name, but I deduced from her cell phone conversation that she was the daughter of the establishment and she was none too happy with her mother for making her drive to school on this fine winter morning. We said our goodbyes and I sent her off with assurances that she should be fine from here on out, then retreated to the warm safety of my own car.

It wasn’t 5 minutes later when a little blue truck pulled up beside me. The couple inside spoke English just about as well as I spoke Spanish, but luckily we were both fluent in charades and one word sentences. I came to understand that they were concerned for my well-being (thank you kindly but as you can see, I have everything completely under control) and secondly they were headed to work at the house on the hill. I convinced them to reconsider such actions by dramatically retelling the Jeep’s story as a cautionary tale. After a quick call up the hill it was decided that the lady of the house would simply come down and pick them up.

As I had just seen this story play out I decided to take up shelter behind the safety of the over-sized brick mailbox. Peering cautiously over the top I watched as the black Suburban followed the previously worn path, slide right on cue and come to rest quite perfectly between myself and the little blue truck. When all parties had come to their senses and examined the situation it was agreed upon that it sure was slick out today, that it was in fact a very cold morning, and that yes, I did have a flat tire but was perfectly fine and everything was completely under control.

As all three piled back into the Suburban, the tow truck arrived and I saw my prospects for surviving this adventure intact steadily climb. My savior du jour’s name was Bill and he had quite a Monday himself. We swapped war stories about flat tires, cars in ditches and the growing epidemic of keys being locked in cars. He nodded sagely as I confessed to being a recovering  key locker     myself; once having stranded myself twice in one day. I felt a bond with my new tow truck friend and wished him well. We parted ways, me with a new tire, and him to further exploits sure to bring him fame and fortune. Or at least, I hope,  a kind smile and an appreciative wave from some other poor soul who, just like me, forgot to double-check her tires.

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