Molly’s Musings

The help of a friend

By Molly Young 

It’s difficult to describe the clamor my car creates. In reverse, it sounds like a cat is stuck in my wheel well, squealing for me to stop. It doesn’t sound much better in drive. Stopping and turning are even less harmonious. My friends tell me my car growls. But I tell them it purrs. It runs just fine, I remind the naysayers.

When I left my house in Lincoln for an early morning meeting Friday, I turned up my radio volume to deaden my car’s typical noise and drove along 17th Street toward downtown Lincoln.

A man stared at my vehicle. I stared back. He looked again, but this time a bewildered expression – a strange mix of shock and concern – was written across his face. Yes, my car makes noise, I wanted to tell him, but it runs just fine.

Then my steering wheel started to shake. I turned west on O Street, six blocks from my destination. A man on the sidewalk sent me the same look: pure shock. My car began to shake violently, and I decided it must be falling apart piece by piece. I parked it on the side of the street and ran to the passenger side.

The black rubber that was my front tire was twisted under its hubcap.

“I don’t know much about cars or tires,” I told my dad, “but I think this is flat. Really flat.”

I looked at the clock. It was 6:40 a.m., and the meeting was at 7.

“Well, Molly, I’m two hours away in Albion. What can I do?” my dad asked.

The next few hours passed in a blur. I called a friend. No answer. I called another. Again, no answer. I called my brother. He picked me up. I called a tire shop. They agreed to tow my car and replace the tire. I arrived at the meeting more than 30 minutes late. I asked a friend at the meeting for a ride to the tire shop. We found my car. It sat in the same spot I left it nearly three hours earlier.

“I’ll fix it,” my friend, Clay, said. “Call the tire place and tell them not to come.”

Forty-five minutes later, after a nice auto repairman stopped and loosened the deflated tire from its rusted hubcap, Clay secured the last lug nut on the spare. I stepped back to admire his handiwork, and he joined me. We looked at each other and said nothing.

The spare tire was flat.

Deflated and defeated, I stared at Clay, hoping the morning’s events weren’t a metaphor for my life. It’s ok, he said. We’ll fill it up.

And we – I should say he – did. I realized something as I drove to the tire shop filled with new air and new hope. Sometimes the ugliest of moments can have the best of outcomes. In a few years, I’ll forget about the initial panic and the twisted rubber. But my friend’s help — that’s something I’ll never forget.