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The Stuck Tire
Short Story Day 168 of 365
Tammy and Rod Perry hadn’t been to see an orchestra in ages. The little town they lived in didn’t even have a community band much less an orchestra, so they had to travel three hours to the nearest city and pay top dollar to see one. That is, top dollar for someone who lived paycheck to paycheck.
Everything about the matinee performance was fantastic and they chatted non-stop about it on the way home.
Less than an hour into the return trip, they experienced the thwop thwop thwop of a flat tire at highway speed.
Rod pulled off the side of the road and got out the tire changing tools. Cars and trucks were still roaring past him at 70 miles an hour.
Sure enough, the rear passenger tire was shredded. Whatever it ran over just did a number on it. The sun was getting low in the sky so Rod knew he had to act fast to get this changed. It had been a while since he had changed one and never on this car.
He jacked up the car and took the lug nuts off, but the tire itself was stuck to the hub.
Just as he was ready to kick it on one side from a sitting position, Kate said, “What are you doing, Rod? You’re not going to kick it, are you?”
“That’s exactly what I was going to do. It’s stuck.”
“Aren’t you afraid of breaking something worse and then we’re seriously stranded?”
“Not in the least. It’s rusted to the hub, that’s all.”
Three precious minutes passed while they argued the merits of just kicking it free. Tammy insisted he call the insurance people and have them send out roadside assistance.
Unfortunately, the Perrys declined that coverage in their policy, but the insurance would still send someone over quickly. The $60-75 charge would be between them and the mechanics.
Rod was 98% sure that breaking the tire free was a matter of kicking it. It was the 2% that troubled him, the little seed of doubt she placed on it. Actually, Tammy was 98% sure that kicking it would cause more damage and they’d be deeper in debt and trouble.
Either way, the mechanic was on his way and they could both observe the tools the pros used to free a stuck tire.
When the mechanic arrived 22 minutes later, he brought with him a large flashlight because it was now dark. Rod explained the problem. The mechanic tried to jiggle the tire from the hub but it was solid, so without a second thought, he sat next to the tire, kicked it once with his foot, and the tire freed itself from the hub.
Rod and Tammy both saw him do it, and they watched as he changed the tire and put on the half-sized spare.
“I wouldn’t go more than 55 with this spare on. Just use your emergency flashers the whole way home. It should be fine.”
The mechanic ran Rod’s credit card and was on his way.
The remaining two-hour ride home was slow and silent. Tammy wanted to say something coy or witty, but restrained. Rod, too, wanted to say something, but realized it would come out wrong and angry.
As they drove into very familiar roads near their home town, Rod said, “Thankfully no one was hurt when the tire blew.”
“Agree. Sorry for not letting you kick the tire.”
“I know you are. And I’m sorry for being a brat about it. We probably should include Roadside Assistance to our policy. What do you think? You know, just in case. It’s only four or six bucks every six months or something like that.”
“Yeah, good idea, Rod. I’ll call on Monday.”