Grimy and Grateful

Last Thursday morning started off pretty much like any other Thursday morning at my house. I got up just as my wife was heading to work, woke up The Lad (who is now less than an inch away from looking directly eye to eye with his Dad!), got showered and dressed, took my daily medicine, ate breakfast with my Son, and headed out the door to take him to school on my way to work. As he was loading his gear in my truck, I noticed I had a flat tire. UGGGGGH!!! Not what I had in mind to start the day, but we actually had made an early start, and my Dad had long ago taught me how to change a tire (and even plug a hole in a tire, if needed). “Take a breath. No big deal. I got this. It’s even a great opportunity to pass on some practical generational wisdom. Okay, here we go…”

So, I backed my truck up a few feet to get it better positioned and immediately saw the nail that had caused the problem. I showed it to my son, then got out the jack and tire tools, explaining the process to him as I proceeded. We talked about the goofy dynamic of having to use a special “bit” for one of the lug nuts, and I showed him how that works. Things started getting tense as I went to loosen the lug nuts. The tire iron that came with my truck didn’t exactly have an optimal fit on the lugs, and it wasn’t really the best shape and designed for maximizing torque. It was already hot and MUGGY in our Baton Rouge driveway, and I began a rated R commentary as I sweated and strained and struggled. I finally got all the lugs loosened, regained my composure, and explained to my Son the important considerations and steps in safely and properly jacking up the vehicle. Our window of time was closing to get him to school before the bell, but it looked like we would just make it in time. Just had to lower the spare from underneath the truck bed, put it on, tighten it up, and we’d be on our way.

But I couldn’t figure out how to get the multi-piece tire tool to fit properly into the slot way up in a dark recess to get the spare to crank down. Sweat and bad language flowed profusely. The Lad did his best to help me, even going inside to find a flashlight to shine into the mysterious tire tool / spare tire shaft. I was less than appreciative, and certainly didn’t give him a positive and practical lesson in changing tires. “Put everything down. Take a breath. Wipe your sweaty face. Apologize to The Lad. Check the time. Think….”

As I cooled down a bit, I realized our best option at this point was to take a Lyft to school, and so we did. As we were waiting for our driver, I realized the step I had been missing, and was 99% sure I would be able to get the spare tire out and installed as soon as I got back. I apologized again, our driver was there very quickly, and we were on our way. When I returned home, I made the adjustment, got the spare secured, and went back into the house to shower again and put on fresh clothes for work.

As I showered, dressed, and drove in to work, I shifted gears. “What can I be grateful for regarding this morning’s situation?” Plenty! The flat happened in my driveway, so there was no vehicular accident, injury, or trauma. I had difficulty remembering how to get my spare out because I’m not sure I’ve ever had a flat before on my truck. My Son was with me, and willing and eager to help, even though I had been a real pain. Lyft was an easy and very quick option, and we had money to cover it. My spare tire is actually a full tire, rather than a “donut,” so I can drive on it for a good long while, if needed. The incident happened on a Thursday morning, my one day each week I don’t have to be at work til noon.

Sometimes life is messy, muggy, grimy, and difficult. But when we can shift our focus from what is beyond our control to what we can actually control, and express some clear gratitude in the process, we can find joy and strength, even in the hardest times. And sometimes we take out our frustrations on those we love the most. We aren’t perfect. But when we take responsibility for our mistakes or the ways we hurt or disappoint others and apologize directly, doing out best to make it right, we can move forward together and grow in our relationships with family and friends. Today, I am so thankful for the many blessings in my life. Including the mismatched tire on the back of my truck!

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