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