Last week, I left a friend’s house to discover that I had a flat tyre on my car. This is one of those 7-seat people carrier vehicles that does not come equipped with a spare. Instead, they supply a tube of goo that is supposed to seal it, and a mini-compressor designed to inflate it enough to get you home. They may not have considered being in the pitch dark on a country lane in Norfolk, when they came up with that idea, I’m guessing. Nothing for it, but to call the car recovery club, and have the car, and us, taken home on the back of their truck.
The next day, I called a well-known national tyre company, and arranged for them to come out on Monday, and replace the flat tyre at home. I wasn’t about to consider filling it full of black goo, and attempting to drive down a fast main road into town, I assure you. They arrived as arranged, and the efficient mechanic soon told me that there was nothing wrong with the tyre at all. He had noticed a crack in the alloy wheel, that was letting out the air. He replaced the tyre, pumped it up enough to get me to the local dealership to buy a new wheel, and refunded all costs, save the small home attendance fee. It was excellent service, and I have since given that company a five-star review.
As he left, he also told me that it was not especially urgent to get the wheel replaced, as long as I was prepared to keep adding air to the tyre. “Think of it as a slow puncture”, he said.
But I did get the wheel replaced the next day. I didn’t want to chance it. Driving home, I thought about what he said, and it made me smile, as I considered I had something in common with my car. A flat tyre in a country lane had delivered a life lesson, and made everything crystal clear.
My life has been something of a slow puncture. The vitality slowly seeping out over the years, suddenly realising the need to pump myself up, after discovering just how flat I had become. Re-inflated, things go well for a while, and I don’t notice that small amount of air escaping from the unseen crack in my well-being. I often left it too late, and allowed things to become fully deflated, flat and immovable.
Other times, I just added a temporary repair; a patch, a plug. Knowing it couldn’t possibly last, but still unaware of that insidious crack, leaking away out of sight and out of mind. On occasion, I replaced the metaphorical tyre, convinced that something new would make all the difference. But of course it didn’t, and the slow puncture continued to leak the air out of me.
From that ‘cracked wheel’, that I was unaware of.
It took me most of my life, far too much of my life, to finally realise that it wasn’t the tyre, but the wheel itself.