I believe the saying goes, when life hands you lemons make lemonade. What if life hands you a $253 ticket in the middle of Alligator Alley? Lesson 1 learned: you do not need to rush to get to where you want to be, your best friend will be waiting patiently regardless of what time you make it to Tampa. Memories can be made a little later in the day and safety always comes first. So for the rest of my ride I cruised, thought about what a great weekend I had ahead of me and how many great people I’d be surrounded by.
What if life hands you a car that begins to shake uncontrollably on I-75 when you’re seven miles from the next exit? Lesson 2 learned: warning signs are red flags waving in front of you saying to pay close attention to what is right in front of you. So I pulled over, assessed my car, saw no clearly visible problems so I began to drive again (only 45 mph with flashing hazards) and reached out to my car-savvy father. He asked a few questions, told me to keep driving slowly and get off at the next exit. Before you know it… Lesson 3.
What if life hands you a blown tire in the middle of 80 mph traffic? Lesson 3 learned: remain calm in stressful situations, react quickly and get yourself out of harms way. Sometimes we overreact and cause greater damage. Then, I heard my front tire burst so I kept a cool head, quickly saw a pocket for me to get over and pull off to the shoulder and waited for AAA. Problem solved right?
What if life tells you to do it yourself. I’ve changed my tires before, I know how to jack up my car, properly, but I also would have tried to drive another 1 1/2 hours north to Tampa on a spare. (really Desiree?!) Lesson 4 learned: learn to accept help. It’s great, invigorating and empowering that I could handle myself but at this moment, you have nothing to prove to anyone. Accept help, wait for AAA and ask for assistance. Lesson 5 learn: everything happens for a reason. The AAA guy took one look at my tire and responded, “You are lucky you got a ticket early, it forced you to slow down and be more aware of your car. If you were going the regular speed limit when your tire exploded and split in half, there is a good chance your car may have flipped – just from the impact of the burst combined with your speed.” Said he has seen it one million times and never saw a car end up only needing a new tire.
Because I accepted assistance I learned that there was a WalMart two exits away. The guy said there is no sign for it but lucky for me he knew it was. I finally reached my final lesson learned, number 6: there is someone somewhere who has it worse. Accept the lemons that life has handed you and sit back, relax and drink some damn good, fresh, ice-cold lemonade. As I drove away from WalMart I waved goodbye to a very nice, G-d fearing man who helped me. While waiting for my car, learned that he had just been served divorce papers at work (after 25 years of marriage), in front of coworkers, customers and his boss. These papers came almost 1 1/2 years to date after his wife left him after they found out he had a fatal bone eating disease in both of his shines… He ran out to my car and thanked me. He said two hours earlier he had a feeling that his world would be turned upside down. He said my positive attitude – in the face a very eventful road trip – reminded him that someone somewhere was going through hardships as well. That my powerful presence told him, “This too shall pass.” With that he wished me safe travels and I was on my way. Smiling from ear to ear, laughing hysterically at the events of the day, elated that a speeding ticket saved my life.