The first was shortly before I moved, one rainy evening on my way back from work driving to Gonubie. On the main road with an 80km/h speed limit, well within the limit. However if anyone knows anything about Gonubie they’ll know about the pot holes, yes even on the main road. Because the road was wet and the potholes filled with water I did not notice one right in front of me, and !!!BANG!! went my passenger’s side front tyre. Of course because this had never happened to me before, I drove on just a bit before I noticed the strange noise and feel of the drive.
I got out of the car to sneak a peek; went back into the car and called my dad in Mthatha, about 2hrs from East London to tell him what happened. I then proceeded to call my sisters, one in Mthatha the other in Grahamstown. Because I didn’t know anyone in East London well enough to ask them to come to my rescue in the middle of a rainy night, I simply rolled down my chair, put on the hazards and the heat and got ready to sleep.
At this point I started noticing other cars ahead of me and behind me with their hazards on and people putting jacks under the cars. Of course I did not know how to change a tyre and I doubted anyone would want to help change a second tyre after their own trauma and delay.
I contemplated locking the car and walking home in the rain and thinking up a plan the next day.
While fiddling with my phone a car driving the opposite direction slowed down and the gentleman on the driver’s side waved at me and asked if I was fine. I shook my head. He u-turned and came to my rescue with his girlfriend/wife, I cannot be sure.
This white couple was dressed like they had come from a nice dinner. The lady got out of the car with an umbrella and shared it with me while her man was being rained on helping a total stranger change her tyre.
When they were done they said they’d follow me some distance to make sure the wheel was tight, they did and I saw them turn back and carry on with their trip. I remember thinking thank you was not enough. I never even got their names, for me that was an extreme kindness, to help a total stranger do something they cannot do for themselves without even asking.
The second time was last year after we had been broken into at my boyfriend’s house and my driver’s window had been smashed. Driving to my place in Gonubie, with all the road works having started, as we off-ramped to join the main road we hit a pothole and instantly felt the driver’s wheel go flat. After the day we had had, we could not believe this too was happening. Again, it was a cold, wet, winter’s night and my man changed that wheel in the dark, on his own while I waited in the car. When he was done we drove off but we still felt something was wrong. We muted the radio, put the hazards back on and got out to check, and as unbelievable as it may sound, the back driver’s side wheel had also punctured. And because we had already used the only spare wheel we had, and because we were angry and emotional we drove at 10km/h all the way to my place dragging that back tyre with us, praying the rims do not get damaged. We made it home and the next morning my boyfriend’s friend brought an extra spare wheel for us and they changed it in time to make it for work. That day I learnt that yes when it rains it pours, but nothing is ever too big for you to handle when you have someone holding your hand through it all. There was an unforgettable and irreplaceable solidarity that was formed on that day.
The third time, on Friday, as I’m leaving my place for work, yes yet again it is raining, but it’s morning this time around. I’m driving up the road, but I can feel the car is not like it usually is, but I immediately dismiss it and think it’s because the road is wet. As I approach a stop sign I decide to mute the radio to just be sure. As I stop another car turns in and the man in the red-car rolls down his window and tells me my back passenger’s side tyre is flat and he can see a nail that looks like it caused the damage. As he is speaking, I hear a female voice from the passenger’s side telling him to drive on. Now I’m thinking ‘who smashed my tyres’? I did not feel anything last night when I parked the car. I get out of the car to find the ‘nail’ spoken of was only the insertion point for the air pump, and yes indeed my tyre was flat, but for the life of me I did not know why. Instantly I was annoyed and emotional. In a space of under two years I had already bought three tyres, and this time around I had no clue what happened. I was pissed.
I went back into the car and put on my hazards and called my boss to let her know what happened. Then I called my boyfriend who was out of town to moan and sulk. Luckily one of my line managers’ was still in Gonubie at the time came through and helped me, again, in the rain. He tried to teach me how it’s all done, but it was no walk in the park for him either, what more for me?
It’s days like these that one appreciates the significance and strength of a man. I know I’ll never learn how to change a tyre, even if I try, it doesn’t matter what they say or how I may be judged, after all is said and done I will forever be a girl and changing a tyre will forever be something tricky for me. Besides, it feels good being rescued sometimes; and it must feel great helping somebody with something they cannot do on their own. Being needed.
Now all that’s left is praying that this time the damage is easily replaceable, that I will not have to buy yet another tyre!