At lunchtime yesterday, I left my office at Bevill State Community College to attend a chamber of commerce lunch meeting. The sky was tombstone grey with light mist falling. Cranking up my truck, I sat for a moment while the engine warmed and the wipers squeaked on the windshield, looking for water to swish. I rolled the driver’s side window down to wipe the mist off my rearview mirror.
It wasn’t cold so I left the window down as I navigated the parking lot. A clicking sound came from somewhere underneath the truck. It changed rhythm as I slowed down, and that concerned me. Pulling to the edge of the parking lot, I stepped out to check the tires. The rear driver’s side tire had what looked like a piece of metal as big around as a kindergarten pencil wedged into the tread.
Running my finger over the object, I couldn’t tell if it was stuck between the tread or jammed through the rubber. Had I pulled it free, there was a chance I’d have to change the tire. That meant that I’d have to get on the ground to reach the spare tire. So, I opted to go have the tire checked instead of attending the lunch meeting.
I clicked down to Sayre Auto Parts and pulled up to the tire bay. They do all the work on my vehicles. The mechanic was there in a second and looked at the piece of metal. “That’s a bullet,” he said.” I thought he was joking until I had a closer look. It looked like a cartridge for a .357-magnum handgun. “I hope it’s a spent cartridge and not a live bullet” he said. I involuntarily stepped back.
He removed the tire and took it inside. Sloshing soapy water on the area around the projectile, he looked for air bubbles. When he didn’t see any, he reached for his pliers and pulled the object free and held it up for me to see. The spent casing hadn’t damaged the tire at all. I was amazed.
He bounced-rolled my tire back out and replaced it on the truck.
As he worked, I surveyed the sky. The clouds had thinned enough to make out the outline of the sun hiding above. I thought about the things that happen from day to day in our lives. I half expected to fork out a few hundred dollars to replace a tire that was not quite a year old. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened to me. I adopted something that Jilda’s dad Sharky used to say: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”
When I asked about the charge, the shop manager standing nearby said, “There’s no charge.” I tipped the mechanic and opened the door to climb back into my truck. The window was still down. The shop manager called to me as I cranked the engine, “I guess you could say you dodged a bullet.”
Pulling into traffic, I and thought to myself, “Yep, it’s always good when you can dodge a bullet.”
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, “Life Goes On,” is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at email@example.com.