The low tire pressure gauge was blinking on the screen in my vehicle. I could feel that uneasy feeling creeping into my chest. What the heck! Not even halfway on this two-hour drive on I-94! Is there something really wrong or is it just a tire a pound or two low? The screen does not tell me which tire and how low it might be.
Mentally I started figuring out how far it was to a truck stop along the freeway. I knew it was at least five miles and it was COLD outside.
The wind was whipping around this small out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere truck stop as I pulled in, on this November Minnesota morning.
In the limited parking area, I called my husband, and we began discussing the situation. As we talked, I watched a trucker with a beard climb up into his 18-wheeler and he was parked right next to the air hose!!!! I excitedly thought, “This is my chance! I’m sure he will check my tires for me.”
I quickly got off the phone and hustled over to the driver sitting up high in the truck. Looking up at him in the truck I explained the low tire pressure gauge was ON in my vehicle and asked for help putting air in my tires. He looked over at my vehicle and he said, “The tires look fine.”
I explained again, “But, I’ve got a low tire pressure warning flashing on the screen in my vehicle …”
He said in a placating tone, “Well, do you have a tire gauge in your car?”
I said “No”
He said matter-of-factly, “Well, most places don’t have a tire gauge … they just give you the air. The tires look fine” he said dismissively.
I said, “OK thanks!” and turned around to walk away. As I strode away, he said indifferently, “Good luck.”
I decided to go into the truck stop. There were three men in various locations of the store. One was choosing food from the premade sandwiches case … another man that was shopping in the junk food aisle … then the third gentleman was a broad-shouldered burly kind of guy at the checkout counter. I thought for sure one of them would help me put some air in my tires.
The woman behind the first checkout counter was taking money from broad-shouldered burly customer for his purchases. Another female employee at the second checkout window asked if she could help me. In a small place like this, I knew that everyone in the store would be able to hear me.
I said, “Well, I need some help checking the air pressure in my tires.”
There was a moment of silence. You know what I’m talking about … that long breath-hold when everyone is waiting for someone else to volunteer… when time seems to hang in the air for a longer than comfortable moment …
With a lightning bolt of energy, the woman at the first checkout counter said, ” I’ll do that!” With a quick one- handed motion she grabbed her coat and threw it on. It was like watching Wonder Woman swirl into her hero garb! Tire gauge in hand we bolted out of the small building, leaving behind the observers.
Now, the 18-wheeler was gone and the space next to the air hose was unoccupied.
I moved my vehicle to the air hose and together we checked the sticker inside the car door for tire pressure requirements. I didn’t have any gloves on and neither did she. Wonder Woman knew this was going to be a quick fix. The front passenger tire was 10 lbs. low. She showed me the numbers on the gauge and filled the tire. Then she checked the other tires. They were just a couple pounds low, probably because of the cold.
As she worked, she chatted. Casually she said she has always been a tomboy and loves this stuff … she said her daughter is a ‘girly girl’ and loves hair and fingernails and make-up. In an instant, she made me feel at ease … forgiving myself for not having my own tire gauge … comfortable with letting her do what she does well.
With the wind biting a bit, she put the air hose back in place. I was waiting to give her a hug. She looked shocked when I pressed cash in her hand. I thanked her profusely … for being willing to help … for taking five minutes … for making me feel good.
Her name was Evonne … and I am ever grateful I met her.
Sometimes it only takes five minutes to be a PART of life. The guys at the truck stop were non-PART-icipants that day.
Evonne? Yep, she definitely got it! She is willing to PART-icipate in life. She got to be the hero – and being the hero one day begets being the hero another day – those guys have no idea what they passed up … not for me … but for themselves.