Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Do Angels Cause Flat Tires?

When my van tipped over on its side in my accident, most of the oil drained out. I was told it was replaced by the men at the towing place before they tested the car and found it wouldn't drive (only to be mysteriously 'healed' after collecting $450 of storage fees from the insurance company). Once I got it back I drove it happily and often.

Every so often a still, small voice would tell me I needed to check the oil and make sure they had filled it up. I'm a little sensitive on the issue of oil deprivation having burned up an engine last February. That history notwithstanding, I ignored the still, small voice and kept driving it, always intending to check it 'tomorrow.'

After a few days I had my first flat tire. It only had a small hole and my dad was able to patch it. Whew! It did take him a day or so, during which I borrowed the little truck and my van stayed parked in the driveway. When it was fixed, off I drove again.

Psssst! Check your oil!

Fiddledeedee! Tomorrow's another day, and everyone knows oil is best checked then.

Within a day or so, my tire had gone flat again. By this time I was getting frustrated. I needed my van to work! I needed to not pay for a new tire! How was I going to get through the winter if every couple of days my tire went flat!!??

I was a little bit irritated with God, because I'd made an agreement AT Him that I would pray about the stuff I needed, and He would do it. It was a beautiful system and worked perfectly as far as I was concerned. Only problem was, God didn't always agree with my assessment of what best met my needs. But surely having reliable transportation was important!!

My van sat there another couple days before my dad gave his verdict. There was nothing wrong with the tire. It had been so cold that the seal hadn't sealed. The tire was fine and I was free to go. That evening I needed to make a 3 hour trip down to Glendive to pick up John. I wasn't thrilled, but OK. I went to fill the van up at the pumps.

PSSSSST! CHECK THE OIL!!!!!!!!! went the still, small voice.

This time I listened, figuring I really should check it before I went on a 6 hour trip through very deserted frozen farm land. I pulled the dipstick out. It was bone dry. There was no discernible oil at all. Suddenly I realized why I'd had all those flat tires. When I refused to listen to God's prompting, being 'too busy', God had saved me from a very expensive and possibly life-threatening disaster (my parents paid for a new engine and probably would not have been too thrilled to have me ruin it the same way less than a year later). I could just picture my angel crouching in the snow, letting the air out of my tires, all the while wishing I'd get the message!

After I put oil in the van, I didn't have another flat tire for a month and a half. Until last night. I don't think I've been ignoring any divine impressions, but you can bet I've been checking my mental voice mail for any missed calls!

Thankfully my tire went flat right before my house and I was able to make it home. My dad decided -30 degree weather was not the ideal time for tire changing and told me he would come out in the morning. So this morning, with the temperature all the way up to 10 degrees or so, I got to change the tire under expert dad-tutelage. I think he hopes if he shows me enough times I'll quit calling him to come help me.

First I had to let down the spare. That went smoothly until it was time to take it off its holder. It was frozen to the little metal piece. I took a crowbar and knocked it loose. That was when I saw the hole was filled with ice so there was no room for the metal piece to pass through. I let the cable out until I could drag the tire almost out from under the van and knock the ice loose. Good. Now the spare was free.

The wind was whipping fiercely--at least it felt fierce at those temperatures--and my dad had parked his truck to shield our workspace. I worked at the bolts, only needing my dad's help on two of them, then started cranking up the jack. My dad covered me with a quilt while I lay on the ground feeling the wind suck all moisture from my face, deepening my wrinkles with every turn of the ratchet.

At last the van was high enough and I was able to take off the bolts and slide the tire off. Did the spare fit on? Oh, no. It would take another five minutes of vigorous exercise in the arctic before I could at last slide the spare on. Time for a warming break in the truck, then back out to tighten the bolts, clean up the work area, crank up the spare tire's cable, and hightail it into town.

After a careful checkup by the town's repairman, I have a clean bill of tire health. There was no leak; it was only the cold. My wheel rim has a small repair spot that doesn't quite seal when the temperature drops too low, a fact I never had occasion to discover while in California. I think I will need a new wheel, but in the meantime, I think I'm keeping my spare in the back of the van where it will be easily accessible and not ice-covered!

1 comment:

  1. On the bright side, you do have the engine JUST ABOUT paid off......