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Misadventures – frustrations of road travel

A woman looks annoyed at changing a tire

I had heard Boston intersections were crazy, but it wasn’t until I was there that I got the full experience. And it wasn’t until I unexpectedly was looking to spend an extra day and night in Boston as well as a hefty vehicle repair bill, that I really understood just how crazy they are.

Driving a Honda HRV with an all-wheel drive is always something that causes stress on a trip. All-wheel has gotten me out of a jam a few times and is great – until you ruin one tire at a six-way stop on the streets of Boston.

My nephew Noah, sister Leah, and I were on our way to a Red Sox game last Memorial Day. I was driving around and trying to find a place to park that wasn’t $55. We didn’t mind walking and exploring a little more of the city. But I was tired, a little cranky, and ready to drink a beer and take in a baseball game.

A sign says welcome to fenway park over a street

Being that this was my first time visiting Boston, I was completely lost. We drove in circles around Fenway Park. But every parking garage we drove by was expensive. Finally, I pulled over and put “parking garages” into my GPS. I picked one that I thought was far enough away to not pay “Fenway game day” prices.

I got to an intersection and my navigation told me to turn right. But this wasn’t a normal four-way stop. I had two roads to my right and two to the left. And to make it more confusing the road I needed to turn onto had a median in the middle of it.

So as I attempted to figure out which road and which lane I was supposed to be in, I clipped the curb pretty hard on my back left tire. OK, I hit it really hard – hard enough it startled me and I screamed out an expletive.

When we finally found the parking garage (for $29!) and parked, my sister, said, “Let’s check your tire.”

I stepped out of the car, looked at it, and immediately saw the scuff marks. I followed them to a lovely large slit in the sidewall. It looked like someone had taken a knife to it. How did a curb slice a tire?

A slit in the sidewall of a tire is shown

Snapping a photo of the slit with my phone, I sent it to my dad and asked him if we could make it back to the hotel before putting on the spare. Nope, the spare needed to go before driving anywhere. A slit in the sidewall can cause a blowout.

I told Leah and Noah to go on to the game. There wasn’t any point in all three of us losing part of our time in Boston. I changed the tire in the sweaty parking garage and then walked the mile to the game covered in grease and grime. The one time I travel where I can shower and I still manage to look homeless.

On the next day of the trip, we were supposed to make the 12-hour drive from Boston to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia. And the day after that we had a full day rafting trip booked, beginning at 8 a.m. Having car problems was not in the plan.

At 7 a.m., I began researching tire shops around our hotel in the suburb of Brockton, Massachusetts. And then at 8 a.m., I started calling places.

There was one tire shop within walking distance of our hotel. That one would have been perfect. But they wanted to sell me all four tires because I have all-wheel drive. I explained our predicament and said that I just wanted something to get me home, but they wanted me to buy all four.

There was another tire shop not too far from our hotel. They could help us! I talked to a sales associate, and she was extremely helpful. She had a tire that would work, however they couldn’t get us in until 1:30 p.m. That was way too late.

I called a few other tire shops, but they didn’t have a tire that would work with my other tires. Finally, I called Munro Auto Service and Tire Center and talked to Bill. He was so helpful. He didn’t have the tire I needed, but he said to come down and he would see if he could help.

We drove there, and he looked at my tires and said he had one with a similar tread that could get me home. However, I would need to get the right one when I got home. Maybe I could trade in the new tire or sell it and get most of my money back.

A woman and man wait in a tire shop

As we waited on them to change the tire, we noticed they had many loyal customers. And I could see why. They got us fixed up and we got on our way to West Virginia.

We were able to move our rafting reservations from Wednesday to Friday, which was great because we didn’t get to camp in West Virginia until 2:30 a.m. A full day on the river with four hours of sleep would have been miserable.

After about five hours of driving when we had just made it to the other side of New York City, Bill called me. He asked me if I left a bag there. My heart dropped. I had left a bag, and in it were my book, planner, battery pack, Kindle, and iPad. There was no way to turn back. It would have added 10 hours.

I asked him if I could send them money and they could mail it to me. Bill told me he’d talk to his manager in the morning and get back to me. Andrew called me the next day and said it was no problem to mail it, but it may take a few days. I was over the moon. I did not care if it took a few days or not.

When he mailed it to me, he texted me a photo of the tracking number so I could have peace of mind. And I got it in the mail less than a week after I left it.

I was so amazed at the generosity and goodness in the people at Munro Auto Service and Tire Center. Being in a desperate situation and a woman on the road, I was so afraid of being taken advantage of. And I ran into the exact opposite with them. They not only didn’t take advantage of me, but they also worked with me to get the best deal. And after already having gone above and beyond, they went above and beyond again!

Many people state that the kindness of strangers is shown while traveling. And even though it was a terrible situation, I’m glad that I was able to experience the surprising kindness and generosity of strangers who just were glad to help.

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