So Far, So Good
Shortly before noon on Thanksgiving Day I set off for Mesquite, Texas, for dinner with friends. The drive was uneventful–a blessing in itself since the road system in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area keeps me confused, annoyed, and often lost every time I drive beyond my comfort zone, about ten miles in any direction from my home. It’s not just me: A recent poll ranked Dallas/Ft. Worth the third worst place to drive in the U.S., a dubious distinction at best. Then there are the miles and miles of road construction with its endless procession of traffic barrels that only add to the frustration. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if these orange and white cylindroids were designated the official state flower–scientific name: Roada no-enda drumus–replacing the much more attractive Texas bluebonnet.
Anyway, I arrived at my destination on time and spent the afternoon enjoying the good company and delicious food. I planned to leave by four o’clock to get home before dark but it was now five and the bleak, overcast autumn sky had become a deep slate-y gray as I drove away. At least I could take some comfort in knowing that at least I would be traveling toward the last waning light of day. That light, however, held no hint of the trouble hidden in the creeping darkness.
At the intersection just a block from the highway on-ramp I waited for the car approaching from my left as it slowed and made a left turn onto my street. I began my left turn when to my horror I saw the driver of that other car was now backing into the intersection and straight at me! She finally stopped just a couple of feet from my right front bumper as I rounded the corner. Little did I realize this was but an omen of things to come. As I continued toward the interstate–and my heart returned from my throat to its accustomed place in my chest–a light on my dashboard warned of low tire pressure. Not willing to risk a blowout at 70 miles per hour I pulled into a nearby convenience store/gas station and removed the tire valve stem caps (two of which were missing) to check the air pressure. I deposited fifty cents into the air pump and began filling the tires. (I should mention that this was the coldest night of the season so far and the wind was approaching gale force, compounding my misery.) By now my fingers were stiff and numb with cold as I fought with the air pump and those miserable little caps. The pump quit on the third tire, then greedily gulped 50 cents more for that last lousy tire. Done at last; but my tire gauge still registered ten pounds low on every tire–and the dash light was still on, too.
I decided to return to my friends’ for help when I came upon another “gas and go” and drove in. Three young men were entering the store and I asked if they could help. “Sure,” one of them answered. “Have change for the air pump?” I got change from the clerk and turned to find my rescuers who were now preoccupied with arcade games. A few minutes later, one of them accompanied me to my car where he offered some useless commentary comparing his father’s tire pressure light to mine. His friends announced they were leaving and all three drove off in their pick-up.
By now an older man had arrived and I asked for his help. I’m sure he had better things to do on a cold Thanksgiving night but he kindly obliged. The air pump quit early again and extorted another 50 cents. The tire gauge still showed ten pounds low. My Good Samaritan suggested I try to get another one at the store. No luck. By now concerned about over- inflation, the man returned the hose to the pump. He referred me to AutoZone for a new tire gauge and caps. I thanked him for his help and drove away, the dash light still glowing.
Feeling anxious, I said a little prayer and headed onto the interstate. A few miles down the road the light was out. An hour later I arrived home–without getting lost–and said another prayer of thanks, grateful my Thanksgiving Day had ended safely and well.
My relief proved premature. The fat lady hadn’t sung yet!