A former colleague of mine would often say Mercury was retrograde when things went pear shaped. Astrologers suggest making sure things are in order before these retrograde periods, as breakdowns are apt to occur.
Winter is coming soon, and this time of year, I usually check to make sure I have enough on hand to see me through the weather. It's easier, for instance, to get the coal and unload it now than it is when the snow drifts are 6 feet high, and realizing I needed at least one pallet if not two, I decided to borrow my neighbour's trailer and pick up some coal.
Neighbour Bob's trailer is rated for 2000 lbs (1 ton or tonne if you're across the Pond). A pallet of coal is 2400 lbs, so most times when I've done this, I unload a number of bags from the pallet and put them in the bed of the truck. One time I didn't and everything was all right, but I don't like to make a practice of overloading trailers.
He wasn't home when I went to borrow the trailer--everyone on the street's allowed to use it, but still, I do like to give word that i'm taking it for a little while. His next door neighbour saw me, waved, and glimpsed only for a moment as I hooked it onto my truck's hitch.
The hasp and lock were hard to open and close, so I sprayed them with some PB Blaster to loosen them. I noticed the trailer seemed a bit noisier than usual as I pulled it. Not a scary noise noisier, just that it rattled more.
I got to the hardware store, nearly 20 miles away, and after consulting with the loading man, he was able to get the pallet on the trailer. He looked a bit nervous, mentioned that the tires were nearly flat, and I thanked him for letting me know. Neighbour Bob is meticulous about maintenance, and i'd not given a thought to check the tire pressure. I probably tow the heaviest loads with his trailer. He usually tows brush or hedge clippings. I didn't see anything in the hardware store to help me get air in the tires, so I drove off, going slowly and decided i'd get air at the first gas station on the way home.
The first gas station was on the left side of the road, about 2 miles down. I noticed it seemed harder to pull the load than before, so getting air in those tires was clearly the right thing to do. The air pump was in front of the parking spaces, and I took up four of those spaces as I got out and then needed to check if the air hose would reach all right. It reached the left tire, but the right was iffy. As I made my way around to the right tire to check, I saw the tire had torn away, leaving the rim. Oh, my. No wonder why it pulled funny.
I hadn't a clue what to do. Neighbour Bob wasn't home, so I couldn't call him. There was no spare on the trailer. I wasn't sure where I could get a new tire, or even if the rim could still be used. I walked into the convenience store, and when the woman behind the counter asked if she could help me, I opened my mouth and "I don't know what to do" came out.
I related my story; she thought she should call her husband. I didn't see what help he could provide, but then my brain started working. I had Triple A, maybe they could help with this tire. I let her know, thanked her for listening, and dialled. The Triple A woman informed me that while Triple A could help with the car or truck I was driving, trailers weren't covered. She gave me the name of a local towing company and phone number. I dialled and the man who answered sounded as if he'd been napping. I knew he wouldn't be helpful, so I thanked him for his time and hung up. I called Neighbour Bob to see if he were home yet, if he had a spare, and to let him know what was happening. He answered the phone, no, he didn't have a spare, did he need me to have him come to where I was. I didn't see that solving anything so told him no.
The owner of the convenience store had come out, and helped me to take some of the load off the trailer and put into the bed of the truck. His barely teenaged son helped, too. He asked if there was a spare, mentioned a place where I might be able to get a tire, although I wasn't sure where that place was. I was thinking Plan B would be to load the truck as heavily as I could, take the first load of coal home, unload, pick up a tire for the trailer, and drive back. The owner went back inside to wait on people and another man showed up. He wanted to jack up the trailer and see about getting a tire.
I asked if he were the man I spoke to on the phone, although this man sounded a lot more awake. No, he hadn't spoken to me, his wife worked here and had called. And he made quick work of noting the tire size, extricating the jack, lifting up the trailer, and looking at the rim. He told me he'd run up to the tire place as he knew right where it was and upon his return, he'd take the rim and put the tire on at his house, since he had a tire changer there. I wondered if he were a mechanic, as he had on a dark green work shirt, typical of one a mechanic would wear.
I thanked him, and while waiting, I went in and ordered a sandwich. I felt bad for taking up four of the parking spaces, but it didn't make sense to move anything. The owner was nice about it, made small talk with me, and I thanked him for his kindness. I also asked him the name of the man who was helping me, and he gave me his name and phone number. He also said I was welcome to use the rest room if I needed it and I could wash my hands at the sink, and he motioned to the sink on his left. I did make use of both and thanked him once again.
The Angel man returned. They had one tire that size left in the store, and it would take him a few minutes to get the rim off, go home, and put the tire on.
He returned within 15 minutes and put it back on the trailer for me. The owner was watching, told me not to forget to fill the other tire with air, and I nodded. I hadn't forgotten and while some may have thought him a bit patronizing, I know he meant it kindly.
Their generosity and kindness deeply touched me. I asked Angel Man how much I owed him. He looked away a moment, took a breath, and said, "Seventy-five dollars."
The way he said it led me to believe he thought it was a lot of money. There've been times in my life where having to fork over an unexpected $75 would have been a great financial hardship. Thankfully, it wasn't on that day. It was easily worth double that to me. He saved me a lot of hassle. I thanked him, told him it was worth more and I was going to include a tip, which I did as I wrote out the check. I had tried using the ATM in the store to get out cash, but it wouldn't work. I rarely take out cash with my card so i'm unsure if my PIN had changed when they sent me a new card or if it was just Mercury being retrograde.
On the way home, I was grateful for so many things. For the man at the hardware store noting that the tires were really low. For being able to get the trailer safely off the road. For people i'd never seen before willing to help me. The rim could be reused. I had enough financial resources to pay for everything. I found the convenience store had a great sandwich shop I didn't realize was there, and although I was wildly unprepared, everything worked out okay.
I got home without any complications, backed up the trailer the easiest I've ever done (it's usually quite amusing for onlookers to watch), unloaded the coal, and returned the trailer to Neighbour Bob's house. He was glad to see I was all right and wanted to reimburse me for my out-of-pocket tire expense. I told him he needn't do that, I've borrowed his trailer numerous times, and this happened on my watch. He insisted on repaying me, and as I looked into his eyes, I realized he was thinking of me as a daughter. My dad's been dead many years, and it's been a long time since I've seen that look. I told him the amount Angel Man told me.
Mercury may be retrograde, but kindness transcends that.