Sometimes I think I’m bound to run out of stories at some point. And then days like today happen.
One of my Purina friends is in town from St. Louis for meetings. She’s staying the weekend with me. We left the office at the end of the day and made a quick stop at the grocery store. Well, what should’ve been a quick stop.
As I parked the car, another car pulled into the spot next to me. Before I even opened my door, I realized the driver & passenger were talking to me. I didn’t understand what they were saying, so the passenger got out and walked me to the other side of my car. I was hearing “Bleu” (which means blue) and worried there was paint from a blue car (or worse – the blue wall from my garage). But no, she was saying “pneu”…the word for tire. And of course she was saying this, because my tire was COMPLETELY FLAT!
I surprised myself with how calm I remained – especially under the circumstances. 6:15pm on a Friday basically means no options in Vevey until Monday morning, I was supposed to drive four other friends to Lyon, France at 8:00am the next morning, AND I had a visitor here with me.
I acted quickly calling the dealership and all of the tire shops in Vevey that appeared when I googled “pneu Vevey.” All were closed or about to close. These were hard conversations in French, because I don’t know all of the associated words. For instance, when I finally figured out that the man from the dealership was asking if I have roadside assistance, and the best I could respond was, “I’m an American; I don’t know.” He probably thought, “this poor girl is crazy.”
Once I realized there wasn’t a place I could take the car, I called one of my expat friends. I figure a guy always knows best in these situations. He said he could come help me change the tire. (Something I don’t have even the foggiest idea how to do.)
I realized we might have to figure out how to secure a last minute rental car for our weekend trip, but before tackling that, I called another expat friend to see if his family needed their second car this weekend. He said I could borrow their minivan, which is so generous. Knowing that we had transportation to Lyon put me at ease. One problem solved.
Still committed to finding someone else to change the tire, so we wouldn’t have to do it in our work clothes, I tried calling my insurance company. My three language options were German, Italian, or French. I was waiting for the English prompt, but it never came. I even asked the man who answered the French line if he spoke French. His response? “Not at all.” Of course he didn’t. That would be too easy.
It took a while to get him the necessary information, since I didn’t understand basic car words like “license plate.” (It’s “la plaque,” for those keeping track at home.) In the end, he transferred me to someone who told me someone else would come to change the tire in 20-25 minutes.
While we waited, my expat friend arrived, and we all went in to buy some groceries. 25 minutes and two phone calls later, a man pulled into the parking garage and changed the tire. He didn’t speak English either, but he was oh-so-sweet! It took him only a couple of minutes.
Our quick trip to the grocery store wasn’t so quick after all, but I’m so glad this happened tonight and not tomorrow morning! We headed home to prepare tacos. As I walked up the hill to pick up my friend’s van, I reflected (again) on how fortunate I am to be surrounded by friends who are willing to lend a hand…whether it’s offering to change a flat tire, willing giving up a car for the weekend, or prepping dinner while I go to pick up the borrowed car.
Here’s to a weekend of rockin’ a minivan! I know my three backseat passengers are going to be pleased not to be smushed in the back of my clown car for 2.5 hours! Maybe that’s the silver lining…that and yet another story to add to the mix!