Tag Archives: car trouble

Helping Hand

Standard

I’m not telling you this story so you’ll think I’m cool. I don’t think what I did was really so special. I’m telling you this story to inspire you to help someone who might need a hand.

I think we had just turned down Indian Route 15.

The Lady of the House and I were on our epic road trip through Arizona and Utah. We’d just left Winslow, where yes, we stood on the corner. Now we were on a long leg of the trip to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. We’d left the I-40 just east of Winslow, and were currently in the Navajo Nation.

I think we had just turned down Indian Route 15 when we saw the man and the woman standing next to a dusty SUV pulled off on the shoulder of the road. I don’t remember how we determined they were having trouble. They weren’t waving their arms or otherwise trying to signal drivers to stop, but trouble was the only reason I could imagine for pulling off the road there.

We should see if we can help them, I said to The Lady as I passed the people and their vehicle, then slowed down to pull off on the shoulder ahead of them.

You jump out and ask if they need anything, I said to The Lady. She’s the more outgoing of the two of us, so I figured she’d be better at approaching strangers.

She did jump out and was back quite soon. The people had a flat tire, she reported. They had phone service and water, so they didn’t need our help with those things. The woman wanted to know if we could give her a ride just down the road to a supermarket so she could buy a can of Fix-a-Flat.

I didn’t mind giving her a ride. While my van only has two passenger seats with seatbelts, there was room for her to perch on the edge of the bed. I could drive slowly so she wouldn’t feel her life was endangered without a seat belt.

Too bad I didn’t have the 12-volt air compressor I’d bought earlier in the year after a tire disaster on BLM land. I’d purchased the compressor along with a can of Fix-a-Flat in preparation for future tire disasters. Unfortunately for the people with the flat, I’d left the compressor with The Man who was rolling on three used tires and more likely to need it. If I’d had the compressor with me, I would have used it to try to pump up their tire. Maybe the tire would have held air long enough to get them to a tire repair shop. Since I didn’t have the compressor, all I could do was give the woman a ride so she could buy herself a can of Fix-a-Flat.

Oh wait! I had a can of Fix-a-Flat. I could just give her my can of Fix-a-Flat which would save us both time and save her money too.

I jumped out of the drivers seat and went around to the back of the van. After opening the doors, I had to move bags of food and a large plastic tote so I could rummage around in a small tub, but I finally put my hands on the can of Fix-a-Flat.

Is this what you were going to get? I asked the woman who had come closer to the van when The Lady beckoned her. When she said yes, I handed the can to her and told her she could have it.

She thanked us, and The Lady and I jumped back in the van. I don’t know what else we could have done to help.

The supermarket the woman had said was just down the road turned out to be about six miles away. I wouldn’t have minded driving that far, I told The Lady, but it was father than I’d expected.

When she asked for a ride, I asked her how she was going to get back, The Lady told me. She said she would walk. That would have been a long walk!

I would have waited for her, I told The Lady. I would have given her a ride back to her truck.

However, since we still had a long way to go to get to the campground where we planned to stay that night, I was happy I was able to simply hand over what she was planning to buy anyway.

I replaced the can of Fix-a-Flat a couple of days later while we were in civilization. When we got back to Babylon, The Lady gave me her family’s old air compressor that no longer works when plugged it into a regular electrical outlet but does still work when I plug it into my van’s 12-volt outlet. Now The Man and I are both prepared for tire disasters.

I hope the people on Indian Route 15 were back on the road in no time.

This photo is on the side of a laundromat in Kayenta, AZ.

I took the photos in this post.

 

 

Telephone

Standard

My boss is a pretty easygoing guy, but he’s uptight about garbage and telephones.

He hates it when people who don’t pay to stay in one of his campgrounds use the trashcans in one of those campgrounds. He feels like he shouldn’t have to pay to haul off trash brought in by someone who didn’t pay a camping fee. I think it’s better for people to deposit their trash in a trashcan—any trashcan—than to drop the garbage on the side of the road.

I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

In the past, I wasn’t subjected to his uptightness about telephones because there were no telephones where I worked. Not only was there no electricity or running water at the campground or day use area, there were no telephones. There were no landlines, no satellite phones, and no cell phone service. My boss didn’t have to worry about me letting the teaming masses use the company phone because there was no company phone.

Now that the mercantile is open, there is a company phone. It runs off a satellite or works through the internet—I don’t really know. All I know is that the phone is necessary for doing business, so the mercantile has one.

The company I work for pays for a phone plan offering unlimited calls within the United States. The way I understand it, the phone bill is the same whether one call or a hundred calls or one thousand calls are made. The boss has invited employees to use the phone whenever we need to make calls within the United States, but he doesn’t want the general public using the phone except in emergencies.

My boss understands people may need to use the phone in an emergency. I think he’s even a little proud he’s making it possible for folks in need to call to 911. However, even though we’re in a remote location, he doesn’t consider routine car problems an emergency. Maybe he’d be ok with using the company phone to call 911 if a car burst into flames, but he doesn’t want us to let people use the phone to call AAA (a toll free call even if the phone in the mercantile didn’t have unlimited free long distance calling) for help with a flat tire or a lockout or for a tow.

He’s never said why he doesn’t want people to use the company phone to call for help in situations of auto trouble. If it’s a matter of people tying up the company phone, well that I can understand, but he’s never cared to explain himself. He’s also never said what he expects people whose cars don’t run to do in order to get help. The nearest pay phone is ten miles away from the store. I suppose someone with a broke down car would have to hitchhike to the payphone and ask to have the AAA driver meet there.

The Big Boss Man’s desire to keep the phone off of the ears of the public in cases of car trouble is all well and good, except he’s not the one who has to turn away the young mother with three kids and a car making a grinding noise or a group of just-out-of-their-teens young people who locked their keys in the truck. The job of turning people away usually falls on me, and I hate it. How do I explain to someone stuck in the mountains without cell phone service that my boss doesn’t consider their emergency a true emergency? It’s the worst part of my job.

One Sunday afternoon, the situation was a little easier for me.

A young man stepped up to the counter and asked me if the store had a phone. He was probably in his mid-20s and tall.

I asked him if he was having an emergency. I expected him to tell me about some problem he was having with his car.

He said he was sort of having an emergency. I thought he probably wasn’t having an emergency at all if he described it as sort of an emergency.

He said he needed to call his boss to say he wouldn’t be coming into work.

Even I didn’t see that as an emergency. He had a problem, maybe, or a situation, but certainly not an emergency.

I told him my boss didn’t want customers to use the phone except in cases of fire, flood, or blood (my words, not the words of my boss). I told him about the scenic lookout where he might be able to get cell phone service. I told him about the payphone ten miles away. I very politely sent him on his way. I’m sure my boss would have been proud.