So there we were at the end of our family vacation. Tired. Sick of each other. But on our way home. In fact, in just two short hours we would be able to open our back door and spend time in space not occupied by another person’s clutter, music or breath.
As a result, we were all in a pretty good mood. We’d even picked up take-out pizza in Louisville (Dear Garage Bar, I love you. Sincerely, Tara) so we wouldn’t have to cook that night.
I was driving. The day was sunny and warm and it was only Saturday so we still had one more day to enjoy the weekend. Promises of back deck barbecues, lounging at the local pool, and playing fetch with my puppy in soft, green grass floated before me.
And then I hit a rut in the road as I was merging onto the highway.
And then the air started whooshing out of our front passenger tire.
We limped to a BP station and, with blind hope, parked beside an air hose. But it took one look at the tire for William to know that it was punctured in such a way that blowing more air in it wouldn’t get us home. In fact, I think the word “split” and the phrase “in two places” might have been used.
Of course, the logical first step would be to start jacking up the car and getting to work on the spare. Except this was my new car and when we opened the trunk, we discovered there is no spare because we have tires that are called “run flats,” whose purpose is to allow you to drive the car at a limited speed for a limited distance until you get to a mechanic.
With the tire a puddle on the ground, that wasn’t an option for us.
So we looked around and assessed our situation. We were in Lawrenceburg, Ky., which is south of Frankfort and a good 35 miles from Lexington. We soon learned its tire companies don’t carry the kind of tires I have on my car. All of Lawrenceburg’s rental car companies are closed on Saturdays. There are no taxis willing to take you to Lexington. Our AAA membership had lapsed.
I looked at that clear, sunny sky and I realized we were a little bit trapped. Not trapped in a buried alive way, but trapped enough that getting home that day was looking impossible. I looked behind me at the BP station and saw there was a lonely, faded picnic table beside the front door in the shade. I was suddenly thankful for it: If a tow truck was going to take our car and we’d be left behind, we’d at least have somewhere to sit.
That’s an odd feeling to have in 2017. To be able to call anyone and look up anything on your phone to try to remedy your situation. To have your car be so high tech it allows you to talk through it so you don’t have to hold your phone in your hand. But, for a second, to realize you have been reduced to being grateful for not having to sit in the dirt.
But then we figured things out. We got a hold of a tow truck company that could be there in 20 minutes and bring the car to the dealership in Lexington. We very, very politely asked our dog- and house-sitter (the one, the only Kasey Williams, who is our forever angel, our forever godsend, thank you a million times, Kasey Williams!) to come and pick us up.
The tow truck arrived. Gabrielle and I went to sit on the picnic table while William oversaw the tow. We bought some water and prepared to hunker down for Kasey’s arrival. I planned on putting our bags and, picture it, all of the beautiful, yuppie vegetables we had bought at a farmer’s market that morning under the table.
But low and behold, the tow truck had a back seat and we were able to go to Lexington with the supremely friendly driver. And when we arrived at the dealership, the manager was somehow still there and he welcomed us in, offered us waters and granola bars, even mints. About 20 minutes later, Kasey arrived with her great boyfriend Gage and we were on our way home again.
Interestingly, in contrast to how annoyed we’d all been with each other the night before at the U2 concert, none of us sniped at each other once when we were stranded on the side of the road. We worked together. We stayed upbeat. And, by god, we got home.
So we survived our family vacation. By the skin of our teeth, I tell you, by the skin of our teeth. And yet, earlier this week, I caught myself planning for next year.