On Tuesday Manyu and I drove to my mom’s house for an early celebration of Mother’s Day. My mom lives in Dyckesville, a small town northeast of Green Bay. When I was a kid living right in the city of Green Bay, Dyckesville was the doorway to Door County. Today the new highway bypasses Dyckesville altogether, and the town is just a quiet village of retirees and commuters. Our drive took more than the usual four and a half hours. When we hit a detour on the highway we normally drive, I ignored the detour signs and sought an alternate route to the north. There I ran into more detours. Instead of arriving mid-afternoon, we showed up in time for dinner. 

With the longer than usual drive across the state, I suppose I should be grateful that I didn’t get the flat tire until we got to my mom’s. A short distance from her house is a paved bike trail that is a favorite place for Manyu and me to walk Jack. We drove the mile to the trailhead, took a long walk with the dog, and upon our return discovered the rear tire on the driver’s side was low. It was a slow leak, so I was able to drive back to the house before digging out the jack and putting on the temporary spare. 

After removing the flat tire, I found a nail in the tread. I tossed the tire in the back of my car and drove to the lone auto repair shop in town to see if the mechanic there could pull out the nail and jam in a plug. On the door of the repair shop was a handwritten note that read, “Closed Due to Injury.” My immediate thought was that the note was either too much information or not quite enough. 

When I told Ron, my stepdad, that the service garage was closed, he suggested a tire shop in nearby Luxemburg. I asked him if he wanted to ride along. He accepted, and I am glad he did. As we approached Luxemburg, maybe ten miles from Dykesville, all Ron could talk about was the town’s population explosion. Luxemburg had gone from 2,000 people in 2010 to 2,600 today, which I suppose, in terms of percentages, is an explosion.

At the tire shop service desk, a gruff, witty woman took my contact information and said she’d call in an hour or two when the tire was done. Plugging a nail hole in a tire takes about two minutes, but I didn’t feel I was in a position to ask if I could jump the line. Ron, who has lived in the area for all of his 80+ years and knows just about everyone within a twenty-mile radius, stuck his head in the repair area of the shop and said, “Hey Mike, my wife’s kid needs to get back to La Crosse. Can you take a quick look at his tire?” Ron did not to mention that I wasn’t heading back to La Crosse until the next day.

While I waited in the service counter/waiting room, Ron went into the garage to schmooze with the repair guys. Ten minutes later I looked out the window and saw a guy (Mike?) putting the tire back on my car. I stepped outside to thank the man for the quick work, and he said, “I don’t think the nail was your problem. It barely poked through the tread. You already had a plug on that tire, and it was the plug that was leaking. I patched both spots, so you’re good to go.”

On the way home, I asked Ron, “Your friend said he patched my tire. He didn’t just jam plugs in the two holes?” 

“No,” replied my stepdad. “Mike said plugs are bandaids. They’ve had so many problems with plugs that they don’t do them anymore. He pulled the tire off the rim and put on patches from the inside.”

I am writing this blog from La Crosse, so the patches must be holding. When I got home, however, I discovered my tv wasn’t working. I might be entering a phase when life feels like a series of minor mishaps and annoyances. I am not much for astrology, but mercury is, in fact, in retrograde. Maybe I will stay away from power tools for a while. 

Steven Simpson