Kansas City, Kansas l jm@jmhuxley.com

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Gravel Road Friendship

November 20, 2019

Gravel roads make for good friends.

 

The kind you meet at your local tire store.

 

Who knew?

 

Twice a month, on average, I'm working on my gravel road relationships, which is to say, I'm getting to know my tire guys. And it isn't just those from whom I buy my tires--the tires I need to replace twenty thousand miles before their warranty expires, but those I check on and fill in various other places throughout the city, all frequently.

 

It's what I do.

 

How I spend my time.

 

Might as well work on those friendships in the meanwhile.

 

I visit my local tire guys as much as I see my nail tech and my hair stylist. As much as I see my local librarian and my massage therapist. Way more.

 

It seems that way, anyway.

 

I average a flat tire about every other month. On average. Sometimes it's once a month. One time it was twice in one day. Another time it was two tires on two different vehicles on the same day. I went to rescue my daughter Rachel following her flat and had just pulled out of the Discount Tires lot only to find I had one too.

 

My husband got a flat on his car the next day.

 

For real.

 

This would infuriate most people, and I have to say, it has given my husband and I pause to consider a future back in the city, or at least on paved roads. What a luxury that would be!

 

Because there is something about gravel that seems to encourage this. And other things, like cracked windshields within the first week of ownership and a covering of earth that never seems to wash off. In snow and ice, gravel freezes in big chunks to the bottom of our vehicles and if we forget to stop by a car wash, it generally ends up falling off and onto our garage floor. When it rains, gravel and mud mix to adobe strength and live like happy concrete there.

 

Naturally, all the stuff that ends up in the garage creates potholes on our road, something that happens in no time when the weather gets grumbly. Which means those gravel roads need fixing quite a bit, and there is something about a grader which shifts everything to travel akin to negotiating with land mines. I can set my calendar when I see the road mender out smoothing things over on our gravel road. Two days later I'll be back to talk with my tire friends, thanks to all the harmful junk that's been brought to the surface on my gravel road to spite me.

 

It seems that way, anyway.

 

I've never understood this. Well, the grading part I do. Smoothing over the gravel and filling holes means a shift of all that metal weaponry to the surface for battle against tires. What I don't understand is how all that malicious hardware gets there in the first place, why it's such a different experience from what happens on pavement. It's as if gravel shakes loose the nuts and bolts of every vehicle as it passes, and all of it lays in wait for some unsuspecting fool to drive over it.

 

Me. But I'm certainly not unsuspecting.

 

What I have trouble comprehending are the nails. Cars aren't put together with nails. As far as I know.

 

I've had long, short, and medium sized nails in my tires. I've had big tree trunk nails in them. 

 

I've also had screws of all widths, and long pieces of metal too. Recently, it was a metal hand-crank of some kind. Once it was a railroad tie. 

I'm not kidding.

 

Yesterday, it was simply a sharp, imbedded rock that flattened the rubber. The new employee at Discount Tires, and my new long-term friend, was incredulous. 

 

Well, if that's all...

 

So, really, all of this inconvenience could be maddening. But I choose not to let it get to me. I have to make peace with these situations. What else can I do?

 

Oh, that's right. I can make friends.

 

So I do.

 

I can make things a little better this way and enjoy gravel road living too, making peace and making friends at the same time.

 

If life gives you flats, make friends.

 

 

 

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