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I often take pride in the fact I'm an independent woman, capable of caring for myself in most aspects of life, but there are many exceptions when it becomes necessary to rely on others. I'm human after all. :)

Driving to work a few weeks ago, there was a sudden shake, slight loss of control in steering, and immediately I knew the problem. A flat tire, making the journey onward to work impossible. In such cases, I immediately try to call my father to come rescue me. Secretly, I believe he wished for sons, but instead he was blessed with two lovely daughters. This didn't deter him from teaching us all kinds of useful things growing up. Many lessons in his garage about basic car maintenance - how to change the oil, drive a manual, and even get on the ground, use the jack and change our own tires. But thirty years later, I didn't feel like pulling out the instruction manual in my Audi, crawling on the wet, rocky ground and changing the flat myself. Perhaps I would not even remember how to do it honestly, because any time there's an issue with my car, my dad is equipped to fix the problem. In this way, I'm spoiled - a father who is a jack of all trades and can solve almost any problem or puzzle from plumbing, electrical to mechanics. Such men are very useful in life, but I think they are a dying breed.

There was one major obstacle on this day - I leave for work around 5 a.m., and it's difficult to reach other humans at this hour, as most are still nestled in their cozy beds, lost in dreamland. Here's how I solved the problem, and perhaps the post will give you some useful advice if you decide to visit the USA, and find yourself in a similar situation where roadside assistance is needed.

1. I'm a firm believer in "signs", maybe even destiny to a certain extent. For me, there's a strong connection between music and life events. A certain song can evoke memories, instantly transport me to a different time or place, and even eerily capture the precise emotions of the moment. This happens randomly, as I'm usually listening to satellite radio on the way to work, and have no control over which tunes are played. When I pulled to the shoulder of the road, this song came on. Yep - life is a bittersweet symphony, and sometimes we must suffer with inconveniences like flat tires and being stranded in darkness, all alone on the highway.

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2.  Almost all U.S. States have emergency roadside assistance numbers. In Virginia, you can dial #77 and someone will come rescue you. The Virginia Department of Transportation has trucks on safety patrol duty on major highways and routes during peak rush hours. They assist with tire changes, jumper cables, bringing fuel so you can make it to the nearest gas station, all kinds of basic issues. You can read about the Virginia system here. Maybe there is a similar system in Russia, not sure? Twice I've used #77 with good results. In fact, the safety workers changed my tires absolutely free. I'm not sure if this is normal practice, or they were just being nice because I'm a woman.

When I called #77 before 6 a.m., there were few patrol cars on duty and the wait was too long. I needed to be at work for an 8:00 a.m. meeting., so Google came to the rescue, and I spoke to a man at a local towing company who offered to come change the tire. He arrived about 20 minutes after the call.

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3. Here he is - Samir. Just a lovely guy, with an interesting story. He's a Syrian immigrant - not a refugee. He came to the USA over 20 years ago to study and has remained here his entire life. Very friendly, talkative and happy that someone had an interest in his background. It's why I love living in America - constantly you meet people like Samir, from countries all over the globe. You learn firsthand about different places, and the paths various people wander to eventually find their true "home." There's almost never a hesitation to share such personal facts if the questions are asked, even among strangers. Americans - typically open people. It's why I have absolutely no problem sharing many personal details and opinions here in this blog. Such behaviors are ordinary in the culture in which I was raised.

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4. It took him about 15 minutes to change the tire. He kept asking me whether the manual was in gear, whether the parking break was on, scared that he was going to be rolled over by a heavy autombile. Yes!, I answered. I think he was shocked to see a female driving a manual, as it's rare in the USA.

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5. This service was not free - $150. If I had waited for roadside assistance from #77, the ordeal would have taken several hours, and personally I'm willing to pay a premium when time is of the essence, and I can afford it. Plus, my work reimbursed half the cost so I could make it to the meeting on time. Many drivers have something called AAA - this is roadside assistance that you can use anytime, anywhere in the USA. It's a very cheap monthly fee, and I'm now a member after this incident. It simply makes everything easier, with a lot less hassels. If you're planning a big road trip in the USA, I recommend you enroll in AAA before the journey.

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While the mood of this day was frantic, annoying and definitely inconvenient, not all was a loss. I met a really nice man, learned some interesting things about every day life in Syria, and once again my patience was tested at extreme levels. Sometimes there are so many curve balls thrown that it's impossible to catch them, no matter how keen your eyesight, polished your glove, or firmly your feet are planted. This - the ebb and flow we call life.

Ladies - do you know how to change a flat tire? :))

Comments

( 96 comments — Leave a comment )
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allanyan
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:02 pm (UTC)
One better learn how to change a flat tire. Plan B - use tires, that allow you to drive at least 10 or 20 miles after getting flat to the nearest service.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:14 pm (UTC)
If there were no resources to help, I'm certain I could have changed the tire. Somehow I would have found a way - fight or flight instinct. :) But in a dress and heels, it was simply easier to rely on someone else in this case. If something similar would have happened on my road trip in Montana, I would have been forced to deal with it on my own given the remoteness of the region.
(no subject) - allanyan - Jun. 8th, 2016 04:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 8th, 2016 05:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
oskanov
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:06 pm (UTC)
Heh, some years ago I went in distant and dessolated region when faced the same problem. It was dark starless night, no light on the road, no passing by cars. Only darkness, mountains and forest. Kinda spooky environment we see usualy in Hollywood scary movies. It was rain and edges of the road brought my mind to thoughts about prehistoric swamps. The reason of flat tyre was pit on the road where the wheel got in. After two hours of hopeless struggle with weather, dirt, darkness, childish fears and my hooky arms I'd finally managed to install spare tyre and continued driving.

Five minutes after I was lucky to find one more pit on the road that slayed my other tyre. It was really funny to get into situation where you have no options at all: neither emergency service nor skillful father. I didn't have another spare tyre and my cell phone was outside the coverage area...
peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:15 pm (UTC)
So, how did the story end? :)) I guess not in the typical horror movie fashion, with you being slashed to death or abducted by a maniac, since you're obviously still alive to leave comments to my posts. :)
(no subject) - oskanov - Jun. 8th, 2016 04:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 8th, 2016 04:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
redheadrat
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:23 pm (UTC)
My approach is simpler.

Roadside assistance from the car manufacturer (available while under warranty free of charge) and AAA later ;-)
peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:25 pm (UTC)
I just paid off my car in January. I now own it, warranty has long expired. :) It was very stupid of me not to have AAA, but before I lived very close to the city and didn't drive so far to work. Now I'm far off in the suburbs...
(no subject) - saccovanzetti - Jun. 8th, 2016 06:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 8th, 2016 06:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redheadrat - Jun. 8th, 2016 08:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 9th, 2016 10:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redheadrat - Jun. 9th, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redheadrat - Jun. 8th, 2016 08:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
moskitow
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:25 pm (UTC)
I used to carry a manual in my car (a "donut" and a portable jack in the trunk) - I can figure it out :)
My daughter uses the road assistance from the dealership she bought her car from. She can call them.....if her phone is charged!
I like AAA idea as well. Currently, I go by without a car for several months (since my child totaled my car). I love the life without a car payment! I will postpone buying a car as long as I can. I'm using my bicycle while it's summer. Healthy and fun.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:29 pm (UTC)
I have all those things in my Audi - a user manual, donut and jack. :)) I no longer have car payments on this vehicle, and it is now paid off - I own it. It's horrible your daughter wrecked your car! I'm the type of person who keeps cars until they totally die. Prior to this Audi, I owned Hondas - a Prelude and Civic. I don't think they even make the former anymore. :)) I drove these for over a decade each.
pin_gwin
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:29 pm (UTC)
I was not impressed by AAA service, they failed to help me and some of my friends. My opinion is that they became more a marketing channel rather than assistance union. Some auto insurers provide complimentary free road assistance, it's a better deal. My wife would hesitate to change a tire even I've trained her.... she would rather call me or service. It's also a dirty work and her minivan tires are heavy.

Edited at 2016-06-08 04:29 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:30 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's dirty work! But it's okay to get rough and dirty sometimes. :) Just not on the way to work, when I'm wearing heels and a suit. :)) I've heard mostly good things about AAA, although everyone's experience differs of course.
(no subject) - pin_gwin - Jun. 8th, 2016 04:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 8th, 2016 04:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pin_gwin - Jun. 8th, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 8th, 2016 04:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pin_gwin - Jun. 8th, 2016 04:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 8th, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redheadrat - Jun. 8th, 2016 08:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pin_gwin - Jun. 8th, 2016 08:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
mjol1nir
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:41 pm (UTC)
There is nothing complex in changing.
Lift your car by jack, screw out five screw-bolts, take off the wheel, hang the new, and screw up it by the bolts.
Very simple and $150 of economy.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:50 pm (UTC)
Call me high-maintenance, but I did not wish to crawl on the wet ground in my work clothes when I had a client meeting in less than two hours. And the mechanics of the tire change aren't complex, but take a certain level of physical strength. :)
(no subject) - mjol1nir - Jun. 8th, 2016 04:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seadevil001 - Jun. 8th, 2016 07:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mjol1nir - Jun. 8th, 2016 08:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
sun_jr
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:44 pm (UTC)

You are in the US; call tow service.

peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 04:49 pm (UTC)
Tow service wasn't necessary. I had a spare in the trunk, jack, all necessary equipment. Just needed someone to help with the physical labor and logistics. Towing service don't exist in Russia? I'm sure they do. :)

Edited at 2016-06-08 04:54 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - sun_jr - Jun. 8th, 2016 05:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mjol1nir - Jun. 8th, 2016 05:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 8th, 2016 05:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mjol1nir - Jun. 8th, 2016 05:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
metaller
Jun. 8th, 2016 05:17 pm (UTC)
I have checked http://www.ou.edu/police/dpsinfo/state-by-state-cellphone-highway-emergency-assistance-numbers.html
It appeared that in WA you can just call 911 for roadside assistance. I didn't know that. I thought 911 is emergency only.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 05:24 pm (UTC)
The emergency roadside assistance numbers are all listed at this link, for each State. It seems #77 or *77 is common, but many also use 911 - http://www.ou.edu/police/dpsinfo/state-by-state-cellphone-highway-emergency-assistance-numbers.html. I didn't know that you can dial 511 in Virginia for current road conditions/construction updates. All this information I get from the radio or mobile apps.
romanklimenko
Jun. 8th, 2016 05:25 pm (UTC)
$150 including a new tire or just fixing it?

I think I've got AAA membership as soon as I was able to get a credit card in US :)
peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 05:28 pm (UTC)
Ha, I wish these stupid performance tires cost only $150. They are difficult to find, and can only be purchased at the Audi dealership. I don't have my receipt handy but I think the cost is around $400/per tire. Yet another reason I hate them. :)) I've actually had to replace this same tire twice in one year due to huge potholes in the city. The $150 was just the service fee to come and change the tire, as I had a spare in the trunk.
no_xit
Jun. 8th, 2016 05:30 pm (UTC)

You were on the way to work at 5 a.m.?! Horrible. At what time do you get up, then?

peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 05:33 pm (UTC)
I usually wake up around 4:30 a.m. :)) My body requires little sleep to function, and if I don't leave at this time, it will take me over two hours each way to get to work, sitting in stopped traffic the whole way. Severe congestion in my region, at epic levels, which is recently made worse by problems with our metro system (some lines shut down). So, yesterday I left later due to a chore and it took me almost 3 hours to get to work. Can you imagine? :)) Perhaps you now understand why the thought of moving to some remote, rural village is appealing to me?

Edited at 2016-06-08 05:33 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - no_xit - Jun. 8th, 2016 05:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 8th, 2016 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - no_xit - Jun. 8th, 2016 06:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
siberian_cat
Jun. 8th, 2016 05:37 pm (UTC)
Just remembered a joke from the 90s:

A farm boy left for the big city, joined a mob and made a criminal career. Several years later he decided to visit his village, just to see his old pals and boast of his success. So he went there driving his brand-new Mercedes S600, very proud of himself. And of course, after he left the highway and drove deep into the countryside on a bumpy dirt road, he blew up the tire. No road assistance, no cell signal -- there is only one thing to do, get off the car and change the wheel himself.

As he was struggling with a jack, someone came up riding a bike. "Fuck me if it isn't Vovan! Long time no see, bro! What are you doing here?"

"Can't you see? Taking off the wheel."

His pal grabs a wrench handle and smashes the window. "I'll take the radio, then."
peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 05:40 pm (UTC)
Haha! :)))
juan_gandhi
Jun. 8th, 2016 05:39 pm (UTC)
Are you a AAA member? An annual payment of around $100 saves you.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 05:40 pm (UTC)
Yes, now I'm a member but not prior to this incident.
(no subject) - juan_gandhi - Jun. 8th, 2016 06:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
juan_gandhi
Jun. 8th, 2016 06:28 pm (UTC)
I am sure Shannon is just amazingly successful in teasing all the Russian English-speaking trolls.
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 8th, 2016 06:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 8th, 2016 06:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
kremlin_curant
Jun. 8th, 2016 06:41 pm (UTC)
I used to drive the cars with stick here in the America, but last fall when I drove Popados with his female companion in Harlem I climbed the very steep hill in the wrong shift and the engine turned off. The car moved rapidly back and hit the taxi that followed me. My Rear bumper was broken. Now I leased the car with automatic transmission.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 8th, 2016 06:43 pm (UTC)
Which female friend? Was her name Luba? If so, she's great! :)) They stayed with me for a few days in Virginia, and I love Artur. Great guy, friendly and oh so handsome. :))
(no subject) - kremlin_curant - Jun. 8th, 2016 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
new_forester
Jun. 8th, 2016 07:07 pm (UTC)
After changing a flat on a narrow highway shoulder with cars zipping by at 60 mph (oh, the infamous Boston potholes!), I bought an emergency warning triangle, a flashing red light, and a reflective yellow vest to wear for visibility. I could call AAA, but with my daughter in the car it was faster to just do the change myself and drive on. However, when my battery died, AAA came to give me a jump start, and when my old car snapped a timing belt, they sent a tow truck to get me to service. It's nice to know you can call them and someone will come. Kind of like an insurance.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 9th, 2016 11:05 am (UTC)
Actually, this is the reason my tire went completely flat. At first, I pulled over on a very narrow shoulder on the highway, where it might have been possible to salvage it, but I felt so unsafe sitting there like a vulnerable duck, especially in the dark. So I drove a bit further down the highway, and pulled off again where the shoulder was very, very wide and I felt comfortable waiting for help to arrive. My life is certainly worth more than $150! :)) And it takes only one second for some idiot to be looking at the phone, become distracted, and plow into me at 60 mph on the tiny shoulder strip...it's just not worth it to try to change a tire or sit in such circumstances.
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