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Tires. Flat ones.

Several weeks back, Bean came home from work semi-ranting about some kids who were throwing glass bottles into the road. She arrived home with a flat tire. Down we headed to change it, Bean being introduced to the wonderful world of the car trunk where the jack, lug nut wrench and spare all reside. So love that they’re included! As they should be.

Not having changed a flat in years, we were double checking our progress when over walks a woman from a car parked a few spaces over. She’d just pulled in. She asked if we needed any help, stating that she had worked on tires for a living. Her husband, standing back by the vehicle, one kid hanging lax in the crook of his arm, head on shoulder, the other being coralled in near his leg from repeated attempts to wander out into the road, nodded his head our way. We totally took her up on the offer! I’ve had periodic car issues over the years, ending up stuck alongside the freeway in the blazing sun on a trip to Portland one time, in the dark night on a strip of Pac Highway another, among others. Whichever, always, always someone came along within minutes. A crew of road warriors out there looking out for me. Blessed! So I wasn’t at all surprised at the uncanniness of finding not one, but two people (the woman mentioned her husband currently worked at a tire shop), a couple no less, in an apartment complex of hundreds, not only living in our building, but arriving home just minutes behind us. Thanked her profusely! Several minutes later, on track from her advice, we’d removed the tire, and were beginning to struggle with lifting the spare up into place to aline with the bolts when up walks the man. Endowed with lovely “man” shoulders, he placed the tire in mere seconds and we were on our way.

My little car is under strict instruction to not cave under peer pressure and follow suit.

Turns out, the tire wasn’t flat due to the glass afterall. A thick nail was the culprit. Upon further inspection of the tire, a nasty patch of barely there tread was found. So worn in fact, it was reminiscent of a helium balloon, stretched thin, and surely would have blown out at any time. Bonus: Acquired knowledge and practice of tire changing was put to use not even a week later, when my Dad’s car got its very own flat tire on our way to lunch. My little car is under strict instruction to not cave under peer pressure and follow suit.

Here in lies the rub. For well over a year, I’m randomly disrupted from time to time by a truly awful ruckus out in the parking lot. That of a woman, a mom, screaming, no RAGING, at her children. Two little boys. She bellows at them, shoving them into the side of her car, back and forth between hers and the next, to and fro like human pinballs. Clenching their arms, violently shaking them, slamming them up against the door, swatting at bums, slapping at heads, roughly directing them, eventually, into the backseat. All the while the words from her mouth, she hates them, not only hates them, f**king hates them. The standard issue of foul names to be called are then slung at them with a liberal helping of “dumb” and “stupid”. Needless to say, my buttons, pushed. Push! To an Nth degree. It wrenches my heart.

So, last week, again with the screaming. Was awakened by that horrendous voice. Each time I’ve gone to the window, my vision of her upper body has been blocked due to the angles of the carports, but this time, she walked out around the vehicle in such a way, that I saw. It was her. Our road warrior. Blessed tire woman! Left me more deflated than any tire. I’ve mulled over the options …

A. Approach her soft heartedly, attempt to appeal to her sense of rationality, of heart.

B. Play her version of “mommy” and slam her up against her own car door with many the flying expletive.

C. Call the police and/or apartment complex and report her. A lot.

The woman in the booth can no longer take it, and as she goes to stand for a confrontation, the man reaches out, grabbing her wrist to drag her back down

Thing is, unless a rare, rare case, nothing, absolutely nothing I attempt will reach her. Once I heard her let the maintenance man have it when he politely asked her to keep it down. Off she flew on a tirade of complaint. How the neighbors had been calling and reporting her for abuse. That she could damn well do what she pleased with her kids. That incident takes care of both options “A” and “C” in one fell swoop, more or less. That leaves “B”. A few months back, I watched one of my favorite actors, Justin Theroux’s, directorial debut, Dedication. A scene takes place in a restaurant booth, where a man and woman attempt to hold a conversation only to be continually disrupted by another woman talking cruelly to her child as she shoves him around. The woman in the booth can no longer take it, and as she goes to stand for a confrontation, the man reaches out, grabbing her wrist to drag her back down, uttering the following words, “If you go over there, she’s just gonna take him home and beat the s**t outta him because of you, you want that?” That scene, was like a slap in my face. To think my potential actions, be it “A”, “B”, “C” or any other, could cause further harm, further frustration built up in her to be unleashed unjustly on those boys.

I’m glad for the personal encounter with her. She’s been humanized. Not excused. And though I’m left feeling rather helpless, I know, know, people can change, drastically, and for the better. I’ve experienced it. Seen those mellow who needed mellowing. Boy, would I like to mellow her. May she experience an epiphany to so entirely eclipse her ingrained habit as to move her up and on to a better way! Sooner than later.


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