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Death Made Another Gesture - Why am I "One In A Million"?

Updated on October 28, 2011

As part of a volunteer-work program I chose to be part of, I take a ten-year old boy with me to Shoto-khan martial arts training a couple of times a week. I decided to do so, when a few months ago I realized that he was scared of his own shadow and his mother asked me to try to improve his confidence too.

Several days ago, after the karate class ended, I got in the car with my little buddy and I was preparing to take him home. When I was trying to exit the parking-lot I was in, I saw a mini-van with a flat tire also trying to exit. I thought I would point-out to the lady driving, that her front-right tire was basically rolling on its rim. As a driver, I know that driving on a complete flat is not good for the car and doing so, can end-up breaking-down other things beside the tire, like rotors, ball-joints, etc.

In response to me advising her of her problem, the lady gave me a shrug which I took as saying: “What do you want me to do?” I was confused … what did she mean “what did I want her to do”? As I slowly drove past her car, she put her window down and clarified her situation by telling me that she had no clue on how to change a tire. She then, asked me of where she could drive to have her tire changed.

I knew there was nowhere she could drive in that area, to get her tire changed; not with it completely flat … So, I told her to drive her car to the back of the parking-lot where there was no traffic, park it on a flat surface and that I would put her spare on. I then called the little kid’s mother (the one whom I do volunteer work with) and told her that we would be a little late.

The entire experience was frustrating more than anything else. At first, we couldn’t find the spare tire … After about five minutes of looking for it, I called a buddy from a dealer-ship:

“Hey, Ali … where’s the bloody spare tire on a Dodge Caravan, 2010?”

“Check under the car. It should be right behind the back-bumper,” he replied.

My buddy Ali is my life-saver when it comes to quick-car-facts. He’s got a car-encyclopedia in his head I think. I remember I was stuck in a gas-station once, in a high-end Mercedes because I had no idea how to open the gas-tank … I just couldn’t find the right button. He has always been there to answer the phone and guide me to where I want to be; I am grateful for that.

The spare-tire was not “right behind the back bumper” under the car but it was nonetheless under the car, just more to the front, under the driver and passenger area. I jacked-up the car enough to slide under it and realized that the spare-tire had a plastic casing around it. By then, it was close to seven-thirty in the afternoon and the light was beginning to fade - I saw no screws or clamps which I understood, in order to remove the cover to get to the spare-tire.

The frustrating part was that I could see the tire but I just couldn’t get to it – I simply could not remove it from its case. After spending about ten or fifteen minutes, I decided to take my little buddy home because his house was close by and there was no point for him to be sitting in the back-seat of my car if this was going to take longer. I told the lady who owned the mini-van that I would go to drop-off the kid home and that I would be back.

It took roughly another fifteen minutes but I was back and I learned that road assistance was called and that it was supposed to arrive within an hour. The lady who was driving the mini-van was standing there with her son and her own mother, who I learned was just visiting from California. The latter was not happy with the situation and she was eager to go home.

“I have a plane to catch early in the morning … I can’t believe this, why would they put a spare-tire under the car? How would I get to it, if I had to change the tire?” The elderly lady was pacing around.

Her frustration amused me. She was right. Why would anyone design a car where the spare-tire is under the car? How are people supposed to change their tires in case of an emergency? What if it is night-time? It all seemed pretty ridiculous to me. Since I was there already though, I decided to give it another look. I just could not believe that changing a flat tire could be so difficult. I have changed countless tires, on a variety of cars and car models, in good weather and bad weather; usually it is fairly straight-forward.

As I got back underneath the car, I had one of my reoccurring thoughts. The voice in my mind was calm but firm: “You will die in an accident or by choice.”

A warrior knows when Death will touch him/her. Thus, a warrior has time to prepare. There is always a last dance. I know this and having that thought was not surprising. What was interesting was my circumstance: I was half under a Dodge Caravan. I smiled to myself and kept fiddling with the plastic case covering the spare tire – I wanted it off but after a couple of more minutes, I had a clear thought in my mind again: “Move.”

I had enough time to slide from underneath the mini-van and to look to my side and see it crash to the ground an inch beside me: the car-jack had failed. Unlike my other experiences of brushing-by my Death, this time I was calm. There was no increase in my pulse, I felt no anxiety. I was just annoyed that I could not get that tire-out.

I cannot say the same about the two ladies there. One of them was holding her right hand to her heart and I thought she was about to cry. She made me laugh and I told her that she almost had a dead guy under her car. She did not find that funny either. I apologized for not being able to get her tire changed. Since I knew there was a tow-truck on its way, I figured I had done all that I could and I told her that I was going to continue on my way.

What did surprise me then, was when she mentioned that I was “one in a million” … something about “you even came back” … I don’t understand that part. Is helping someone such a strange idea? Has lending a hand for a minute become something out of the ordinary?

I thanked her and I left.


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    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      14 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      Sorry Mr. Wesman: took me 8 days to respond. Been all over the place in this past week, even though we're supposed to be quarantined at home. I couldn't but I am now so, will have lots more time.

      "I honestly used to just drive and drive and drive because I didn't want to go home" - This bit hit home. I was the same when I got my first car too. I basically lived in it. I started driving everywhere. Anywhere was better than home.

      "epic tales of being stuck in the mud ten miles or more from the nearest outpost of humanity" - Ya, I got some too lmao Tying-up my exhaust system with rags, which eventually burned because the pipes got so bloody hot and then, I could hear the dragging of everything down the highway, like a wounded animal dragging its insides. Haha!!

      I got so many crazy stories about driving. I got a really nutty one from two falls ago. Gonna write about it soon but I just wanted to give it some time, in case the police officers involved will read it lol

      You keep safe Amigo with all the crazy stuff happening nowadays. Cheers!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      15 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I hope you understand that I really really like you. I'm sure we disagree on ten thousand things, but nevertheless, I like you quite a lot.

      OMG...I laughed a few times here. That all said, I'm glad you were there to do the manly thing, and help.

      I guess I honestly used to just drive and drive and drive because I didn't want to go home. I used to work all day, and then just drive around until around time to go to sleep - simply because I didn't want to be at "home."

      Yeah, I'm not right in the head, but I've changed more tires in my days than I could ever remember. And my epic tales of being stuck in the mud ten miles or more from the nearest outpost of humanity are pretty frightening.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      15 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank You for your comment Mr. Palidin.

      I first read your name as "Paladin" and thought: are You one of the "twelve foremost knights of Charlemagne's court"?

      I appreciate yor kind words.

      All the very best to You!

    • profile image

      Lee Palidin 

      15 months ago

      You are one in a million, I totally agree! Being vigilant and preventing an issue is absolutely more effective than trying to clean up a mess after the fact and you did all you could to reach a successful conclusion!

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank You for the read and comment Mr. Christoperanton. I have been really lucky all my life but only in the last few years or so, I started paying attention to such things.

      All the best! : )

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 

      9 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Great story that makes several good points. It seems to me that your guardian angel was working overtime that night.

      I'm glad you survived.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank you for the read Mr. Harry Cane. The body knows certain things the mind does not. We are usually focusing on what the mind says and thus, we have difficulty in perceiving the world with our body. Yet, the body sees many things and can also lead in its own way, just like the mind can - if we only allow it.

      Thanks again for your awesome story, we all have our own special powers. We just have to learn to be who we are and not be what we are expected to be or what we are told to be.


    • profile image

      Harry Cane 

      9 years ago

      I was standing behind a friend on a snow bank. The snow plow was coming and my friend said we should stand where the snow from the plow would cover us like a wave. We were waiting when a sudden urge to keep my friend out of the impending snow wave took me. I had a picture of my friend being hurt by the snow. So, I grabbed his shoulders and pulled him back, as I also stepped back away from the plume of snow being broadcast by the plow. He was very upset and asked why I would ruin our fun. I pointed down to the spot where he had been standing. There was a huge ice chunk that had landed there. He said, "That would have hit me! You saved me!". The hand of God drives the faithful.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I am glad you found my story interesting, Beata Stasak. Thank you for stopping-by to read and comment. I appreciate it. All the best!

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 

      9 years ago from Western Australia

      Thanks for your interesting story and good luck with your volunteer work:)

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Mrs. Amy, thank you for your comment as well. You are too kind. I honestly did nothing more than anyone else could in that situation. I wasn't even helpful in the end ...

      If you would like to read more about my "voice of warning", you can give this a try:


    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Yes, Mr. Arvind ... you are correct: I am not getting-off that easy (rofl). There is much I must still do.

      There is also much that you have to do. I see you as a teacher; many follow you and many more will follow you.

      I bow to You - thank you for your humbling words.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      9 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Amazing story, Mr. Happy. Yes, you are one in a million. My first thought in reading this extremely interesting, well written piece is the lady with the flat is going to figure you won't be back, because more often than not, it would be the case. That is probably why she called road-side assistance. I would love to read about when you discovered your "invisible voice of warning". Thank you

    • aravindb1982 profile image

      Aravind Balasubramanya 

      9 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      Mr. Happy, Wakan Tanka is not going to let you go that easy! The way you say, " something about “you even came back” … I don’t understand that part" is simply beautiful. Thats the spirit my friend - when you help and touch someone without feeling that you have helped or touched them! So beautiful!

      And your inner connection is amazing.......thats the voice of the great spirit or God! It is heard only in the depths of silence........You are a deep person and deep indeed is your silence

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank you for reading and commenting Mrs. Happyboomernurse. I never thought to search for more stories such as this but I did read the one you linked. It's pretty sad that people are getting injured from trying to change a tire. I do not think this is necessary ...

      Mr. Diogenese, you are quite correct in your judgement. I know from experience that some cars are made in such a way nowadays that as an owner you are forced to take it to the dealer because certain parts can only be removed there. Keys to get pieces off some car are not easily acquirable. Yes, they want you to come-in to the dealership and shed some loot ... quite unfair, in my opinion.

      Mr. Amillar, "a dodgdy place to put a spare", indeed! lol Thanks for dropping by.

      Mr. Spirit Whisperer, I am pretty sure you had wonderful mentors. And I do not see myself as a mentor to kids. I just try to be friends with them - we're on equal grounds for the most part. I am no more of a teacher for them than they are a teacher for me.

      Thank you for your humbling words.

      I did thank Wakan Tanka for letting me know that I was about to have a Caravan on my chest! I do appreciate it.

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 

      9 years ago from Isle of Man

      Mr Happy, this is a great story. It is very well written and captivating from start to finish. You inner connection is very strong and you are indeed a warrior. That little boy is learning many things from you and most of it is unsaid. I wish you had been my mentor as a kid! May the great spirit continue to whisper to you and guide you in all your endeavours.

    • amillar profile image


      9 years ago from Scotland, UK

      It seems like a Dodgy place to put a spare wheel Mr Happy.

      Never stop being neighbourly; that’s what the World needs now as much as ever.

    • diogenes profile image


      9 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Funny how all old cars were easy to fix, had a starting handle if the battery failed, had a tire in an easy position to change and was easy to work on even for the amateurs. And no on-board computer adding the technical difficulty normally associated with a space craft. Of course, manufacturers saw that they were loosing big bucks by customers doing their own repairs instead of returning to their dealer's service departments. And they found that making things like the spare innacessible, not to mention downright dangerous, imporved the looks of the car (style over substance) and incurred the thanks of all the sevice organizations who had to be called in. And, heck, if a few owners got killed getting the spare out or having the cheaply made bonnet clips fail (hood..,Renault this year, well, it was worth it for the increase in profits.

      Lucky for you the ladies even said thanks and didn't berate you for failing. Bob

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      The spare tire placement troubled me and I did a cursory google search and almost immediately found an article written by a rescue worker describing an incident where a 53 year old male suffered head injuries while trying to get the spare tire out of a Dodge Caravan. The jack had slipped similar to what happened to you, but the man was still under the car. The article goes on to say this is a design defect that should be changed and that Dodge needs to seriously rethink spare tire placement. The article can be read at:

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      Great story on several levels. Yes, it is very rare these days for anyone to go out of their way as much as you did to help out in this situation. Your persistence even when nothing was going right was quite commendable and could easily be perceived as one in a million.

      And when the jack slipped, it was amazing that you'd just come out from under the car. Those ladies must have been stunned at your non-chalant manner about almost being crushed!

      But even with all those things being said, the thing that's most striking about this story is that any manufacturer would design a vehicle where the spare tire would be in such a hard to access spot. I'll bet you're not the first to have a jack slide while trying to get access and there have probably been others injured or killed while trying to change a spare on this particular minivan model.

      Thanks for sharing this story and kudos for trying to help people who are in need in both your volunteer work and your everyday life.


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