Children are mesmerized by firemen, policemen and soldiers. We all are. They provide a great service for us and take risks that could take their lives. If you ask any of them if they are a hero, they would most likely deny it and just say it’s their job.
The most straightforward but poignant definition of a hero to me is simply, ‘someone stepping in for another’ – and they don’t have to always wear a uniform.
I was driving up to the Blue Ridge Mountains last week and faced a very frightening ordeal that seemed endless. I like when I get to travel an hour or so away and see a different town – it’s one of the best parts of my job.
When I bought my nine-year-old Jeep a few months ago, I knew there would be a few things to maintain. It didn’t bother me to have to replace the battery or the brake pads and, thankfully, it was spread out so that I could take care of one at a time.
Going two hours away up to the Blue Ridge Mountains would be a sight to behold and I thought I might even get a little adventure in and explore the area.
My adventure began a little before I reached Blue Ridge. Driving up the mountain where there were no turn offs or exits and seeming to compete with the fast-moving semi-trucks; I felt my front wheel wobbling and making noises. There was no place to pull over and I felt forced to keep driving up the mountain knowing that I may lose my wheel. I tried to slow down some, but the trucks driving full speed were making it hard.
My wheel continued to make noise and it was all I could do to try and keep my vehicle between the lines. I could tell I was fighting a wheel that had a mind of its own. The only thing I knew to do was to pray. I kept it together knowing I had an interview to do and that God would get me there. I had a tight grip on the steering wheel, not only because I was trying to keep my Jeep from going off the road but also I was very nervous. I felt my body tightening up.
Finally after driving with my rigid composure and fear for my life, I reached my destination. It just so happened that there was a mechanic place right next to it. Shaken, (but not stirred) I went ahead with the interview, hoping the little shop would still be open after I finished. It was hard to keep my mind on my work and it didn’t help that the interview didn’t go as planned.
I was at an orchard place for Growing Local and hoped to speak with the 94 -year-old woman who started it all. She wasn’t in our meeting. After I got the information that I needed, I walked around the store and bakery. I spied an older woman working back in the bakery with gloves on. I went up to the counter where tourists where giving their orders of what goodies they wanted and I made eye contact with her saying with a smile, “And who might YOU be?”
She stopped her task and smiled back answering, “I am the lady that started this whole thing!” I was able to take her picture. She was busy working and tried to tell me a story but with the customers around I could not hear her. I wished we could have gone somewhere to talk, she had more of what I needed.The owner is the best person to speak with if you can get them. Speaking with this delightful woman, I almost forgot my predicament.
Here I was two hours away from home with not much money – at least not enough for a mechanic bill or a hotel to stay in if I couldn’t get it seen about that day. It wasn’t just about my wheel… it was that I was a woman who knew nothing about cars, trusting her vehicle she did her best to maintain, being out of town and no one to call for help.
Yes, I realized that I had already called on the main man – and that was enough. I trusted that, but the tension in my body after driving the way I did, began to mount up inside along with my worries. I got in my Jeep and had to make a decision. Do I try to make it down the mountain and just pray my way home or do I stop at the mechanics, knowing it was a day before payday and I couldn’t afford a big bill.
Of course, my body betrayed me and after what I had put myself through tight gripping, being afraid and suppressing it until the interview was over – I began to panic. I called my son as I was headed back. He felt helpless and our communication was choppy because I was listening to my GPS and trying to talk and I ended up missing the directions being spouted off to me. I told my son I couldn’t talk and drive so I hung up. Everything inside me told me to find that mechanic and not to drive down the mountain.
I swallowed my pride of having to be a damsel in distress and, that was actually my opening line as I walked into an office full of men. “I am a damsel in distress and I need help!” I said with a laugh yet choking back the tears. The men stood up and asked me my plight. I explained about my wheel and they went to look at it. The youngest took one finger against a lug-nut on the front wheel and it just spun the rest of the way off. One finger!
He didn’t have to grip any of the lugs - they were ready to come off. I was about to lose my wheel had I decided to drive any further. One of the gentlemen named Bill joked, “You don’t have any enemies do you?” I couldn’t think of any. That didn’t seem to help my emotional state when he said that. He let me know he was kidding. They checked the rest of the wheels and all the lug-nuts were loose on each wheel. When I seemed perplexed from Bill’s question he said, “I was teasing you – it would take a lot for someone to take the time to loosen every one of those… did you have your brakes done recently?”
I think the light bulb over my head came on as I remembered just a month ago getting my brakes done. He said it looked like they had forgotten to tighten the wheels back up. Wonderful. A woman on her own in this big ol’ world doing the best she can and she can’t even trust a company to do their job correctly. But moreover – that they put her life in danger.
The gentlemen that I met at Complete Auto on Hwy. 5 stood in for me when I needed them. They were my heroes for the day and they tightened up all of my wheels at no charge.
I felt better to drive home but I had still been through quite an ordeal. As I headed back down the mountain, I was thinking about what could have happened. I called my son to let him know that I did let the mechanics help me out and I would be in Chattanooga by six o’clock. It kind of felt good to be accountable to someone, though I wish it weren’t only because I had called him in a panic. On an everyday basis, I do my own thing with no one really knowing where I am or what I am doing. I don’t think I will ever get used to being by myself.
Just as I was thanking God for keeping me safe, I began to hear a noise on the front wheel again. I watched the guys tighten the Jeep up so I knew the wheel was not about to fall off, but it sounded like the chug of a train starting up. I noticed that it felt wobbly still. After hours of driving to and from Blue Ridge and fearing that I would have a wreck, my body released all the toxic buildup of suppression and I cried the whole way home. I cried when I made it home. And I continued to cry.
The next day was payday and my son found a mechanic on Cumming’s Highway called Gossett’s Garage. Wes Gossett was very good to take care of me right away and he also let me know that it was obvious that I was given a shoddy brake job that could have cost me my life. He said that if I had driven on that wheel anymore that it would have locked up on me causing me to wreck. I found a good mechanic in Wes and I will continue to use him. He was reasonably priced and efficient but most importantly – trustworthy.
When a woman is used to taking care of a family and them taking care of her, it isn’t a good feeling – especially when it comes to your car - to have to deal with things like this alone. My son was there for me, but I don’t live with my son. I don’t see him on a daily basis. Those few days had made me feel so alone and yet at the same time God showed up to dispute those feelings.
A mechanic shop right next to the place I was going to interview, with gentlemen that weren’t out to take advantage of my situation and who were available to help me – God was there. My son being someone I could call in my moment of panic and be available to take me to get my wheel fixed – God was there. Keeping me from having a wreck, finding a mechanic I trust, having the money to fix my wheel, – God was there.
Thankfully, He does place heroes in my life to step in when I need them. But He also lets me know that I am doing okay on my own and He will be there for me and put the right people in my path at the right time. Back when I wrote about Long Island, I had mentioned my love for Superman and that I hoped one day to find my Superman. I now know that I don’t need a Superman. I am doing just fine on my own.