Lest anyone think I’m whining, I like snow!
Granted, Portland has had an uncharacteristic amount lately. Getting snow in December at all is unusual, but to get over a foot of it has been a little overwhelming. But whatever; I work at home, I can walk to get groceries, so it’s not a panic. The biggest inconvenience is when I want to get across town to see one of The Girls, or when there’s an event happening that is a pain to get to.
And I think I’ve had a white Christmas only a couple of times in my life, so to have a solid blanket of white on the 24th and 25th was a real delight in that respect.
But c’mon, when I’ve got a reservation at the coast that I can’t get to because the roads are so bad, it stops being quaint and lovely! Ocean views and lazy decadence are calling me!
Finally, during a break of warmer temps and drizzle that was melting off the top layer of snow, we decided to make a break for it. Supplies were hastily packed and thrown in the vehicle. We braved the slippery ice and slush on the city streets and got to the freeway. We dodged countless tangles of discarded tire chains and cables in the middle of the freeway. And then, sigh. *thump, thump, thump, thump* “What’s that noise?” “Aww, crap, that can’t be a flat, can it?!” We pulled over and checked, and sure enough the right rear tire was totally flaccid.
There we were, pulled onto the shoulder of the freeway, being battered with icy winds and the occasional spray of muddy slush from passing vehicles. I’ve been nursing a sore shoulder for several days, so wrestling with a flat tire wasn’t exactly the easiest enterprise. I found a tire iron and got the lug nuts removed. Then I found my spare. It was a donut (darn it!), but at least it had air. I pulled it out, and found the jack. Except… I couldn’t seem to wrestle the jack out. It’s like it was glued down or welded to this metal holding bracket. I tugged and wrestled, but the damn thing wouldn’t budge!
*grumble, gripe, moan*
Well, AAA had already been called, surely they would have a jack. We climbed back into the car and tried not to fret while we waited. Thank goodness for games on the iPhone!
Very soon, a well-used pick-up pulled onto the shoulder in front of us and backed up towards our car. It was clear this was just “some guy”, not anyone from a tow company or AAA. Most of the gear in the back of his pickup was still draped in a thick blanket of snow, and his outfit was waterproof pants and a camouflage hoodie. “Whatcha got goin’ on?” he asked.
I explained about the flat, and the jack, and he came back to look at it. We puzzled for a second before he saw the obvious problem. The scissor jack was extended up, wedging it snugly into the bracket. By design, duh. You’re supposed to drop the jack a bit to remove it from the holding bracket. Once I got the clue, I was ready to thank the guy profusely and let him be on his way. Instead, he finished getting out the jack and proceeded to start lifting the car. I removed the flat and wrestled the donut into place and started tightening the lug nuts. We got everything done and the gear returned to the back of the car. I turned to our Good Samaritan and said, “You’ve been a real life-saver! Can I offer you anything for you time and help?” He brushed me off immediately, “Nahh! Merry Christmas! Y’all be safe!” And before I could argue or protest, he was in his pickup and pulling back into traffic. I think I stood there a minute stunned. It’s always jarring when a confirmed cynic is faced with such unambiguous altruism. It’s a more complex world than is dreamt of in my philosophy.
With the tire repaired, I had a tough decision to make. There was no hope of getting the tire fixed on Xmas Day. I could go home and admit defeat (again), which would pretty much kill any chance of making it to the coast during this holiday break at all. Or I could try to drive the remaining ~200 miles to the coast on the temporary “donut” tire. I decided to take a gamble on the tire.
Thankfully, the road conditions were bad enough and the traffic slow enough, I didn’t have much opportunity to be tempted to speed on the spare tire. Slow and steady, we finally made it out to the coast! To a fabulous ocean view! To an inviting hot tub! And several days of slackerly bliss.