Last weekend we took time to visit Joanne’s family in Sioux City. It was a short, but nice visit and it was good to catch up with how things were going on that side of the state. While coming home Sunday afternoon, our leisurely ride got exciting. On a lonely stretch of Interstate 680, I felt something odd while driving. My low tire pressure light suddenly came on and the steering felt “mushy”. Being a safe driver, I immediately pulled over to the side of the road and turned on the hazard lights.
I got out and looked at both of the tires on the driver’s side. Both looked normal to me. As I walked around the back of the minivan, I noticed the problem. The rear tire on the passenger side was flat. I tried to think of the last time I had to change a flat tire, and could not remember. Then I tried to think of the last time I tried to change a flat tire on the side of an interstate highway, and the answer was never. But I knew what I had to do was find the spare and change the tire. In the meantime, Joanne called AAA for roadside assistance. AAA said they would send someone to help but expect the wait to be 90 – 120 minutes.
The bad news was that we had a flat tire. The good news was that there wasn’t much traffic on this interstate, the blowout was on the passenger side and the day was sunny and warm, albeit somewhat windy. The final piece of good news was that son Ted came with us on this trip and he was certainly capable of providing help. Our first task was to locate the spare tire and jack. Ted and I proceeded to unload the back end of the minivan and place our luggage along the shoulder. Fortunately, there wasn’t much to move.
Looking under the 3rd seat I couldn’t find the latch that would lead me to the spare, so I did what any man would do after failing to figure out a problem on his own. I looked in the owner’s manual. Much to my surprise I learned that the spare on this minivan is kept right behind the driver’s seat. I had never heard of such a thing and was very happy I looked in the manual. With Ted’s help we were able to unscrew the wing nut holding the tiny spare tire in place. It took us another 20 minutes or so to change the tire, and replace the luggage where it belonged.
As owners and managers of small businesses sometimes we also experience a business “flat tire”. That could be the loss of a key employee or customer. That could be a late shipment of a product that was promised to a high volume customer that was expected to arrive tomorrow. Or it could be a mechanical failure of a critical machine. At the time we face the business flat tire we have choices to make. We could panic and either do nothing or start yelling at anyone and everyone. Or we could assess the situation, evaluate the alternatives and calmly make an informed decision on how to best rectify the situation.
Sometimes we are able to put multiple plans in motion at the same time, like Joanne calling AAA for help while Ted and I started working on changing the tire. I advocate enlisting all the help you can get, communicate with everyone affected and start fixing the problem. Most importantly, look at the bright side of the situation, because no matter what, things could definitely be worse.
Joanne called and cancelled AAA and we headed on our way home. The recommended maximum speed while using the temporary was 50 miles per hour. It made driving I-80 a bit more of a challenge, but I was thankful the blowout didn’t happen on that road.