Travel SNAFUs are bound to happen. You miss your flight. Your bus breaks down. The train derails. There’s a transit strike.
Or, as was the case on a recent road trip with Rollerbag Mom, you blow a tire.
It was a cool Arizona night on what should have been an incident-free drive from Phoenix to Tucson, Arizona. Rollerbag Mom and I had just stopped at BoSa donuts in Casa Grande (at the request of Rollerbag Pop!) to pick up a dozen of the world’s freshest and best-tasting donuts. We never suspected we’d need a baker’s dozen of donuts to get home safely.
About 12 miles from Casa Grande, we heard a loud “pop!” and subsequent “flap-flap-flap.” It didn’t feel like we’d blown a tire, but I pulled over to the shoulder. Sure enough, the rear driver’s side tire was a goner. Luckily, Rollerbag Mom had roadside assistance. With a quick call from my cell phone, help was on its way.
It was dangerous work. Though drivers are required by law to pull to the opposite lane when someone is stranded on the shoulder, many do not. Semi-trailer trucks sped by at far beyond the speed limit, just inches from the man changing our tire. And the desert, for those who have never experienced it, gets pitch black, save the stars on the big sky above. Our fix-it angel was an aged, thin man, whose hair waved about like a gray halo, backlit by halogen headlights. We sat in the car, warm and relatively safe, while we worried for him as he removed the flat and replaced it with a donut. The car shook as massive vehicles sped by.
He advised us not to drive over 50 miles per hour. With 47 miles to go, and a stretch of highway 10 where traffic regularly drives faster than 75 mph, we asked if there was an alternate path. He suggested we take the frontage road until it ended, about 20 miles down the road.
We continued on the side road, chatting and giggling our troubles away, but feeling rattled. We paused at a gas station where the frontage road appeared to end, and took a breather. It was then that several other road angels – in the shape of uniformed firemen – helped us. They not only showed us a frontage road that continued for the duration of our journey, but took great care to explain how to navigate a confusing construction zone. And they sincerely wished us a safe trip. We were emboldened by their collective kindness.
It took longer than expected, but thanks to our road angels, we overcame our travel troubles and arrived safely (and admittedly, exhausted) in Tucson. We were grateful for those who helped us along the way, people who likely had no idea how much their time and expertise had made a difference for us.
I have encountered so many helpful people in my travels; it is a faith-builder. They’ve assisted me even when I haven’t spoken their language. Their kindness and generosity is overwhelming, and so, so needed for those of us who wish to experience the world; and their gifts are an essential component of our deeper understanding of the oneness of all cultures and peoples. To all travel angels of the world, thank you for helping the lost, the exhausted, the confused and the frightened. You do more for the travel experiences than you may ever know…until you experience that same generosity in karmic bounty.
Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations.
Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb