I’ve had a lot of flat tires in my life. I don’t truthfully know enough about cars to know what that says about me, but I am going to assume that it means
a) I’m not the best driver, and
b) I buy cheap tires.
Out of all the flat tires I’ve had, the one I got in Chicago late one summer night takes the cake. I had accompanied my then-husband to Chicago one weekend, while he was working on a music project. I was driving my Dodge Intrepid (go ahead and laugh at my choice of vehicle), and was trying to follow the car in front of me that my husband was driving. The car that he was driving was not his own, and there were other people in the car who were giving him rapid-fire directions on how to get downtown.
Turns out, the people who were giving him directions didn’t know where the heck they were going either. So, I was basically following a car with a driver and passengers who didn’t know where they were going, and kept changing their minds by making quick turns.
It was hard to keep up. I rounded a corner hard and busted my right front tire.
I’m sure I probably swore loudly. I was on a dark street. At midnight. Somewhere in Chicago. The car my ex-husband was in sped off, not seeming to notice that I had bitten the dust.
The good news was I had a cell phone. The bad news was that this was during the time period in U.S. history when people didn’t have smart phones. There was no GPS. To make matters worse, my ex-husband wasn’t answering his phone.
I managed to pull off to the side of the road into a small parking lot behind a building. I realized then that my ex-husband’s phone may have been dead.
So I sat in my car and waited, as if I were waiting for some miracle of God to happen. It was summertime, and there were a few people here and there walking around, but I just remember feeling afraid to move. I was in unknown territory late at night and was imagining all the possible crime-oriented scenarios that could possibly happen. After unsuccessfully trying to call my ex a million times, I looked down at my phone and saw it was almost dead, and I didn’t have a car charger.
Oh crap. I guess I better call the other man in my life–my dad.
When my dad answered the phone, he of course was alarmed, given that it was almost 1:00 in the morning. When I heard his voice, tears flooded my eyes, as I was finally feeling some relief in talking to someone who loved me.
He got into practical mode and told me to get out of the car and find the spare tire in the trunk. Pretty much the moment I stepped out of the vehicle, I spotted a group of young, college-aged guys riding bicycles. Unlike other Chicago neighborhoods, this particular neighborhood didn’t strike me as a neighborhood where people biked, so I noticed them immediately.
As I was popping open the trunk, one of them pedaled right up to me. “Need some help?” he asked.
“Yes, yes, yes!” I said. He motioned the other guys on bikes over, and they changed my tire for me, working as a team. When they were done, I started crying again.
They looked at me like I was cuckoo.
“It’s okay, don’t cry. Everything is fixed,” one of the bicycle guys said.
“I know! That’s why I’m crying. I’m just so glad!” I managed to say, while gasping through tears. (I gasp when I cry, and it’s highly unattractive).
One of them gave me an awkward, but well intentioned, stiff hug. They then explained to me that they were actually from the suburbs and had decided to randomly ride their bikes up to Chicago that night.
They wanted to still help. Just as they began discussing options with me in terms of finding my ex-husband, I saw one of my ex’s acquaintances, who was working on the music project, walking down the opposite side of the street. I shouted his name, which was Chiquis. (I know, weird name–probably not his real one).
Chiquis came over and explained to me where my ex and everyone else was. Turns out, they were only two blocks away. I sadly left behind my new group of biking boys to drive with Chiquis to find my husband.
I used the adverb “sadly” because I really didn’t want to leave them. I felt safer with a group of strangers whom I had just met, than I did with my ex-husband in that moment. The reasons for this are complex and cannot fully be explained in a blog entry. However, I will say this: I feel that those guys were sent to me at exactly the right time. Had they come right away, I might not have fully appreciated their act of kindness–because the act of waiting for help had caused me to feel frightened that no one was coming. I had begun to lose hope, but finally had the clarity of thought to call my dad. And just then–the moment I had decided to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get the spare tire out of the car–hope showed up in the form of boys on bicycles.
It’s like everything comes to you at the perfect time. When you least expect it, have begun to let go, but are ready to push forward and do the work. That’s when it–whatever it is–shows up.
And I’m still super thankful for the bicycle boys.