A Story About a Flat Tire and the Boy Who Had No Obligation to Help Me

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A Story About a Flat Tire and the Boy Who Had No Obligation to Help Me

Dani Payne, Writer

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The summer before my senior year of high school, I had finally gotten my license. This gave me a lot more freedom, but also a lot more responsibility, like dropping my brother off at band camp before I had to go into work at my new job, Jimmy John’s. One morning, I sped out of the school parking lot because I was trying to get to work on time…  but mostly because I was trying to look cool as I blared my angsty 90s alternative music. As I pulled around the corner, I hit the curb and blew my back-right tire. It was embarrassingly loud. It sounded like a gunshot. Everyone in the area turned to look at me. Naturally, I did what any person with a good amount of logic and reasoning would do. I ignored it and sped away… On three wheels and a hubcap. 

I sped out of the lot and started down Highway 136. The speed limit was 55 mph, so that’s how fast I was trying to go. My car was making an awful noise, so I turned up Katy Perry’s Firework to drown out the sound. It ended up getting so bad that the CD started skipping, and my speedometer was bouncing from 0 to 120. I decided to give up and pull over to see what the damage was. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I did know I wasn’t going to be able to fix it. How would I get to work on time? How would I tell my mom? 

As I pulled over, a tan minivan pulled over behind me, and I knew immediately who it was, and I did not want to have to talk to him. 

Andy was also a senior at Tri-West. He had a small group of friends, but everyone else made fun of him. I had never really had a conversation with him, but I thought he was weird, which was enough for me to not want to talk to him at all. To this day I still can’t believe that in that situation, I /still/ thought I was cooler than Andy Hansen. I sighed deeply as we both got out of our cars. He shouts first, “I was wondering when you were going to pull over! I’ve been smelling burnt rubber for the last half mile!”

I was so embarrassed. I realized how dumb I looked, driving my car after I had very obviously blown my tire. I didn’t know how to respond. “I… don’t know how to change a tire.” I shouted back. I felt so stupid.

“Well that’s why I pulled over!” Without being asked, Andy walked around his minivan and pulled out a giant toolbox. He started walking over to my car and told me to open my trunk, out of which he procured …a spare tire? I had no idea I had one of those. I stood there in silence. He didn’t make the small talk I was afraid of. He didn’t really speak at all. He jacked my car up, changed the tire, and before I could even thank him, he was on his way. I stood there, feeling just as dumb as I did when I first got out of my car.

Andy didn’t have to pull over for me that day. He definitely could have known that I never stuck up for him in the hallways. He didn’t owe me anything. He saw that I was in need, and out of the goodness of his heart, changed my tire for me. The bible teaches us the same. In Proverbs chapter 3, verses 27 and 28, it says “Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help. If you have what your neighbor asks for, don’t say, “come back later. I will give it to you tomorrow.”

Andy was kind to his neighbor, me, who allowed others to make fun of him. I, on the other hand, kept telling him to come back later… in a sense. I never stuck up for him, though I felt guilty every time about it. I always thought to myself “Next time, I’ll tell them to shut up.” But I never did.

I still think about Andy a lot from time to time. I didn’t see him again after that until school was back in session. I thanked him over and over, and he just kept waving me off. I decided that I could repay him in speaking up if I overheard anything negative being said about him. I even reached out to his mother, who had no idea of the situation. I could tell how proud she was of her son.

I wonder from time to time how many tires he’s changed for people. How many mornings he’s saved. Andy did not have to save my life for me to still be thankful for him to this day, four years after the fact. While I feel as though I still haven’t done enough to repay Andy, I realize now that he really wasn’t expecting something in return. He was being just as kind to me as he was everyone else. To make this world a better place is not about changing it all at once. It’s about starting with your neighbors. Starting small and doing good, especially when the person you’re helping might not have ever thought to help you.