Early Tuesday, 5:54 AM. The right rear tire starts to rumble. I pull off into a gas station and take a close look at the tire. It seems okay, so I drive out.
6:04 AM: The rumble is now a penetrating vibration that rocks the steering wheel. The traffic in western Ponce is light, but it takes Me almost a minute to edge the car onto the side of the road. When I check, the tire is absolutely flat, a fist-sized hole punched into it.
And the spare is even worse. The spare was the shredded tire, product of a blowout last month, that sat in the trunk of My car, as badly damaged Tuesday early morning as it was when it failed. My bad for not getting it replaced.
I was near a Ponce City facility, so I walked less than a hundred feet and asked the gentleman out front if I could park My car there, out of traffic. He insisted I do so, for safety. I did, slowly, and as I parked, I noticed the facility was the City's Vehicle Maintenance garage.
6:10 AM. I tell the gentleman I'll be crossing the highway (5 lanes of traffic, 3 more in construction) to get something to eat and will be back at 7:30 to remove the tire and see if someone from the facility could take Me to a nearby tire center (about 5 minutes away, by car, without traffic.) He tells Me he'll have to ask the boss if that's okay, but he thinks it will be.
I get My shoes muddied going and coming as the ground between the different lane areas is almost soupy from the recent rains. A cup of coffee and some 110+ pages of a sci fi novel later, I'm back at My car. It's 7:12 AM.
7:31 AM: The idiocy of using air-powered "guns" to tighten wheel bolts comes home to Me full force as I have to bang the 4-way wrench with the jack base to loosen each bolt. (An aside: it pisses Me off to see how often "loose" is used for "lose" in current writing. I've even seen it in "professional" websites, an instant descent into YouTube troll status. "Lose" is defeat; "loose" is not tight. O, see the difference?) What should have taken Me 4-5 minutes took almost 20.
The gentleman I spoke to earlier drives out in a lime-green eyesore of a car and tells Me he spoke with the facility's boss and that someone was coming over "To see if we have a tire for You." I thanked him and said a ride would be plenty, but he waved and took off into traffic like a lime out of hell.
7:44 AM: A small, compact man with steel-gray hair comes out and asks Me what size rims My car has. Just in case, he checks himself and says "We may have a tire here that fits this. It's used, but it'll get you to the tire center." Before I can object, he lifts the flat tire and walks off briskly. I make do arranging the things in My car.
7:57 AM: The compact man rolls the tire back and tells Me that I got lucky with the used tire. As I bend over to raise the jack a little more, he plucks the wrench from My hand, jacks the car up another few inches and remounts the tire. I tell him My name and he says people call him "Pichy" (sounds the same as "peachy" to you non-boricuas out there.) I chuckle and tell him that must be a nickname and he gives Me a tired glance, spinning the bolt on quickly.
"So what is your name?" I ask. He smiles and says "It's not a common one: Confesor." Means "confessor," but you non-boricuas figured that out, right?
Another chuckle. "Father and grandfather?" He laughed. "Yeah." Seeing his look I added: "But not your son?" He was starting to lower the jack. "No way," he said. "It's time to make a change."
He helped Me repack the items in the trunk and told Me to not rely on the tire for long because it had been lying around for about a year. He gave Me directions to two tire centers and a suggestion to go to the farthest one because they offered a good 2-for-1 deal that could get My spare replaced as well. We shook hands and he refused any payment. "The tire's free and I'm glad I could help."
He watched the heavy traffic to make sure I could back out safely and We nodded as I left. It was 8:06 AM. I was back on the road and though I never forget it, it's good to be reminded that yes, good people are everywhere.
The Jenius Has Spoken.