If I’d been in Davis County, where my entire family lives and I spend a good portion of my week, I wouldn’t have worried. I know dozens off people off hand who I could have called for help, and feel perfectly at ease in all of the varied auto parts stores that I or someone I know could locate. And if I couldn’t figure out a way to fix it until the next day, I’d feel safe just locking the doors and leaving the car right where it was.
But I was on Beck St. in Salt Lake, which most Davis County residents know only as the road with the strip club on it. The rest of the businesses along the stretch skew toward industrial buildings and bars, with the road itself full of cars that zoom by at Death Race speeds. The only safe areas to pull over are either in the weeds along the side of the road or, if you’re unlucky enough to be in the inside lane like I was, the gravel and mud median that people are supposed to use to make left turns. My insurance had no roadside assistance, and as remedy for my two flat tires I had exactly one miniature tire that had lost too much air. On top of that, no one in their right mind would leave a car on Beck overnight.
I was a refugee in a strange land, and clearly in deep trouble.
But I forget about people. Two different men pulled over to see if they could help me, and it was the second man who told me that the real problem was that the rock had cracked my aluminum rims (yes, things like this just happen to me). This was after he’d already spent a lot of time in the freezing mud putting on my flat miniature tire, which I’d asked him to do since it was all I had.
The garage I walked down to didn’t have any rims in the size I needed, but without me needing to ask they called another nearby garage I hadn’t even known existed that did have something in stock. The second garage managed to scrounge up two spare rims and tires for me, then gave them both to me for about half the price it showed on the computer. They don’t do roadside assistance, but an extremely kind young man from the shop delayed his return home to follow me back to the car and put on my spare tires for me. When I offered him money, he told me not to worry about it.
While he was replacing my tires, a woman in nurse’s scrubs driving by saw me shivering on the side of the road. She pulled over and insisted that I take a University of Utah snuggie she had in the car, wrapping it around my shoulders because she couldn’t stand the thought of me being cold. Once the tires were on, the young man from the shop followed me part of the way home to make sure the tires would work.
So don’t worry, my fellow Davis County natives. Even if you find yourself marooned in a strange and foreign land, there will be kind hands there to help you back up on your feet.