Monday, August 8, 2011

Chivalry is Alive


Having a breakdown on a highway is frustrating.
Having a flat tire along Hwy 58 in Cape Carteret is also dangerous. 

Friday, August 5th at 3pm, I experienced an abrupt flat tire that resounded with thud, thud, thud and air whooshing out.   
My minivan stopped on a gravel area across from Old Hwy 58. 

Confidently, I retrieved a can of flat-tire-fix-it from my tool kit, read the directions, attached the hose to the valve stem and pressed the trigger.  
The smelly yellow foam exploded over my face, arms and clothing. 

I removed the hose, reconnected it and tried again with the same results.   

It was humiliating;  I looked like I had a fight with a 6 year old, and smelled like gasoline. 


Dozens of cars whizzed by at high speeds, neither stopping nor slowing down. 


Jerry Simonette, from Star Hill approached me with an offer to help. 
He said, “I thought, what if that was my mother standing there?  I’d want someone to help her, so I thought I’d help you.”  

Since he appeared to be older than I was, I hope he wasn’t inferring I was old enough to be his mother…

Jerry also tried the fix-it foam and it exploded on him, so I handed him a towel.  


On cue, a Tulane, USMC, ROTC college student, “JAK” Kramer from Silver Creek Landing, stopped to help.  
JAK said, “I looked at the temperature and thought it was so hot, and knew I needed to help.”  
The 95-degree temperature felt more like 115 degrees and it was getting hotter.


Without having to use my cell phone, these men took control and decided to change the flat. 

“Where’s the spare?” asked JAK.
JAK on the left, Jerry on the right
Continuing to look like an episode from I Love Lucy, I could not remember the location of the spare and had to get out the manual.  

Mounted on the side wall, the donut and jack took longer to remove than to replace the flat tire.  

While they worked, I entertained them with comments and jokes about flagging the cars on the road so they didn’t get hit. 

I also explained that I told my son how to fix a flat tire even though I have never done it.  
The idea of doing it wasn’t daunting, but the heat and the traffic would have been murder.

In less than 30 minutes I was ready to go.

Besides my undying gratitude, I gave them each a copy of my humor book, thanking them repeatedly.


These chivalrous men stopped and helped me when others did not; I was fortunate.  
Next time, I might have to rely on my own resources, and I will be ready. 


Here are a few tips I would like to pass on:

1.  Have a charged cell phone with programmed emergency numbers.  Be prepared to wait for roadside assistance with some snacks and water, especially in extreme weather.  

2. Be familiar with your car and use the manual.  Practice fixing a flat, or watch one being fixed.

3. Have a good spare tire; know its location with the jack, and how to remove it.

4.. Do routine checks before driving, like checking the tires, filling up fluids, tapping on the breaks and checking for working lights, turn signals and clear trash from under the wipers.

5. Have towels handy.   Stock a tool kit with a flashlight, reflecting triangles, screwdriver, flares, jumper cables, first-aid kit, and a good, non-flammable can of fix-a-flat-tire foam.

6. Have a plan.   Tell family or friends where you are going and an arrival time. 

7.  If something happens, safely move off the highway from the road’s edge and do not panic.


A little preparation and knowledge of vehicle maintenance goes a long way, because good Samaritans can be hard to find.



Note:  A shorter, Op Ed version of this was sent to Tideland News for inclusion in the local news paper.


Have a great event-less day.  Email me at aitken.helen@gmail.com or on Facebook.

I'd love to hear from you.

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