You may have passed us last night. We were on the shoulder of an Indiana state road–old blue Chevy truck and a well-used red hay baler with a flat tire.
It was not our hay baler. It belongs to our friend, Mark, and we were just borrowing it for a few days. The last question I asked him before we pulled out of his drive was, “Mark, will you still like Dave if we break this thing?” He smiled his ready smile and assured us that he would.
I probably should’ve gotten that in writing.
We’d been tooling down the highway, blinkers on, at a cautious 35-40 miles per hour. We hit a bump, and a sheet of metal flew off of the baler and landed in the opposite lane. Dave stopped as quickly as he could and ran back to get it. Fortunately, motorists were paying attention and calamity was avoided. Whew. Unfortunately, Dave heard the tire hissing when we threw the sheet of metal in the bed of the truck.
We called our children first. Due to the kind of long list of outdoor chores we’d left them to do, they did not answer the phone. (My son assured me this morning that if we’d just let them watch a movie last night instead of mowing, feeding animals, etc., they would have been much more available to take our call. I told him his observation was duly noted.) Dave and I discussed calling some of our other neighbors, but we knew Mark was home and had an air tank, so we called him. (Sorry, Mark.)
Dave and I discussed beef prices, upcoming auctions, his birthday lunch and a few other odds and ends as we sat on the side of the road. I was acutely thankful for the folks who slowed down and went around us; it made a big difference in my personal peace of mind. We also kind of chuckled about the shirtless guy who kept appearing at his front door window and peering out at us. The beveled glass gave him a unique appearance at best. I couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking as he periodically materialized in the window. I wonder if he had an air tank.
Mark got there as soon as he could, and we were glad. Dusk was setting in, and there were no lights on the baler. He aired up the tire, threw his tank in the bed and encouraged us to get moving, stopping as necessary to put in more air.
At our first opportunity, we turned off of the state road onto a country lane and bumped our way along toward home. The potholes did the tire no favors, but we certainly felt it was a safer alternative to the highway. We continued to stop to air it up as needed.
A couple of miles from home, the tank ran out of air. Dave slowed down and tried to avoid bumps, but it was to no avail. The goofy tire needed more air. We called our oldest daughter, now in from mowing, and instructed her on filling and loading the air compressor. She went to work on following orders. We were about a quarter of a mile from our driveway at this point, and Dave wondered if he could pull up into the drive to at least get off of our narrow road. He started to ease forward, and the tire fell apart, shredded.
By this time, it was almost totally dark. Our neighbor, Adam, chose this time to step out of his barn. Fortunately for us, he was wearing his superhero cape. After a few moments of catching him up to speed on the situation, he had us back the baler into his driveway, brought out his heavy-duty jack and he and Dave were working to remove the tire.
At this point, our daughter had appeared with the air compressor at this point, so I went with her up to the house and Dave soon followed. We were home and the baler was safely boarded at Adam’s for the night.
What Dave and I thought would be about an hour together turned out to be more than two. I don’t know that he or I would’ve chosen these exact circumstances for our date, but the time together was good. We were reminded of how good people can be and how we can all make a difference in this world. Our friend, Mark, and our neighbor, Adam, may not have set out to bless us yesterday, but when the opportunities arose, they did. We are thankful.
I am also thankful that I didn’t allow myself to be consumed by all of the things I could’ve been doing if I had chosen to stay home. For one thing, we wouldn’t have had to bother Mark. Even then, though, I am learning that I need to take opportunities as they come. Dave and I had lots of opportunity for uninterrupted conversation last night. That’s a rare thing in my house.
Maybe once we get the tires replaced, the hay in the barn and the baler back to Mark, Dave and I can go out on a real date–one without temperamental equipment, speeding semis and creepy guys peering at us through the window.