Day one of the American cross-country odyssey, here are a few initial observations:
1- Pennsylvania is longer than I thought going from east to west.
2- Rather than go around the many mountains in western PA they tunneled through a few of them. It reminded me of roads in Italy. Very cool.
3- I’m doing this trip at about 70 miles an hour on roads build just for me by my tax dollars. How did the pioneers ever get over those mountains?
4- You can break America into thirds going east to west. The first third is, or was, forest. The second third prairie and desert. The final third, almost to the coast, are snow covered mountains. The pioneers were much tougher than me.
The road is busy with summer travelers. Trucks of all sizes, cars both filled and single driver, all going somewhere and they all seem to be going on Interstates 76 and 70. Its OK though, everyone is behaving themselves and traffic is moving well above the speed limit.
We have all heard about crumbling infrastructure. I’m here to tell you not to worry. It seems like every bridge and overpass from New York through Indiana is being re-built. Of course, they have to close lanes to do this. They also have to place hundreds of plastic cones or those large plastic garbage can size things along the highway. If I, or you, had bought stock in whatever company makes those things we’d be rich now. Of course, none of them are bio-degradable and they’ll be around for the next re-building of that bridge.
But this blog isn’t about infrastructure or no-bio-degradable plastic, it’s about a good deed. Passing it forward is repaying some good deed or kindness done to you to someone else. If everyone did this even once, the ripples in the pool of good deeds would reach out to us all.
Somewhere along the road, probably at one of the many construction sites, I must have picked up a nail or something in my front left tire. I stopped for lunch and noticed it was low. I ate lunch and it was lower. I drove, luckily to the next exit where there was a busy truck stop, and it was lower still. I didn’t need air. I needed to fix my flat.
Ohio near the Indiana border is hot in the summer. It was even hotter as I lay on the ground trying to get the tire from under my truck. Yes, spare tires are stored under the bed, mine had been there for 185,000 miles or seven years. It was still in decent shape, despite looking very forlorn from its long time hanging under the truck bed.
As I stood trying to figure out how all the pieces went together a voice from behind asked. “Do you need help?”
I’m a man, I never ask for help or read directions. The directions to the jack were still in the glove compartment. (They still are). I turned to see a 25ish young man with dark hair, a scraggly beard and an American flag on his tee shirt. It took me less than two seconds, I gave in and said sure. It was 90 degrees, he was young, the spare was heavy. Why not?
As with most jobs it wasn’t as easy as it should be. The jack was shaky on the irregular pavement, the new tire was almost too big and the old tire, flat as it was, didn’t want to come off the truck. An hour later, after much sweat equity, it was done. I wanted to give him something but he wouldn’t hear of it, I wanted to buy him something to drink but he said that his wife was getting impatient. She had been sitting there for almost an hour.
“Thank you,” I said, “You didn’t have to stop.”
“Well I hope someone will stop and help me some day.” He turned and walked to his car. His name was Chris, he lives “somewhere outside Pittsburgh.”
Thank you, Chris. Pass it forward.