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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Tire Angel

Today was a day of miracles. A renewal of my faith in the Universe, in myself and in my fellow human beings.

I took my car in for regular maintenance. I had a free certificate from the place I bought it, so I was willing to drive an hour for this. They also cleaned my car and fixed my wiper for free. Great people. Great service. The surprise came at the end.

"So, everything OK with my car?" I asked.

I'd only had it 6 months, and though not new, it was in good condition. I don't drive much.

"Engine's great. All looks good," the man said. "But the back tires are shot. You need new ones immediately."

"What?" I almost started sobbing right then and there. I'd already had to replace one blown tire two months ago. I had $11 in my account and my ex hadn't sent his regular child support payment that was normally due by now. I was broke and had no prospect of having any more money in the near future. I didn't know how I was going to pay my household bills or buy food, let alone buy new tires.

"Well, how long do I have? I mean, I can at least get home and get around town until I can get some money, right? And I've got a doctor's appointment in Santa Rosa today," (two hours from the auto shop and an hour from my house.)

"If I were you, I would go across the street and get them changed now. You're not likely going to make it home on those. Especially the back right one. It's the worse. But the left back tire isn't far behind. I wouldn't risk it."

I spoke to the manager who sold me the car. Explained that I hadn't had it long enough, or driven it enough to warrant three new tires in six months. There was nothing he could do except call across the street and ask Gary to give me the discount they normally got.

So, I drove my newly cleaned, kid-food free car across the street, trying to figure out how to make $11 into several hundred in the next 10 minutes. Nothing came to mind.

Gary checked the tires and confirmed it. Even I could see the damage once it was pointed out. The rim was showing in a way it apparently is not supposed to, or something along those lines. I told Gary I needed the cheapest tires possible. I explained to him that I have three little girls and no money and I was desperate. Then I went around the corner of the building where no one could see me and had a mini nervous breakdown.

All my faith vanished. All the work I'd done on believing I could get through this painful part of my life was crushed. I couldn't even get home without writing a bad check in hopes that I could find the money to put in my account before the check was cashed, or beg my bank to honor it and charge me the fees until I got more money. I hated either option. I called my bank again. Still no deposit from my ex. He always paid something every month, even if that amount was getting smaller and smaller. I still assumed he's send something. Apparently not. Or at least not yet.

I wiped my tears and went back to Gary with my checkbook, asking how much I owed him. The guys were already putting on both tires. Gary was on the phone. He shook his head at me, "It's on me," he said. "God bless." He held his hand to his heart. My heart swelled.

That was it. My car was done, they gave me the keys and my new tires and sent me on my way. I went around the corner again and cried some more, this time for an entirely different reason. I had been hopeless moments ago. Convinced I was in serious trouble. And then this tire angel comes out of nowhere and gives me what I need without charge. What are the odds of that happening? I've never even been able to get out of a speeding ticket, let alone get shops to give me free tires.

But his gift to me was more than tires. It was hope. And belief in the human spirit. He showed me that there are many ways for God and the Universe to work and that I just have to trust and believe that when I exhale, my next breath will be there. That I will always have what I need, when I need it.

On the way out, I grabbed his card. He needs to know that he was a messenger of the Divine today to me. He needs to know that he saved me. He needs to know that he gave me more than new tires.

Thank you Tire Angel. For everything you showed me today.