So let’s start at the beginning. Joyce and I left the wedding a little after 10. We were caravanning with Juliann’s previous roommates since it was late. Joyce and I were discussing Sunday church options when we changed freeways in order to cross over to the 20. However the onramp had another idea. Right in the middle, almost impossible to avoid was a piece of firewood. Joyce being a fellow Californian called it driftwood but firewood is probably more likely in east Texas. The girls in front of us had hit it but it didn’t cause any damage however Joyce and I hit it right on the tire dragging it and causing us to have to pull over. The tire was shredded.
Joyce didn’t have a spare but the girls did so a nice Texan couple helped us change the tire to the donut and we followed them to Walmart in order to get another tire to get us on our way. The couple, Ashley and Morris were very much Texas born and bred. Dressed practically in their camo jackets and comfortable clothes it was quite the contrast to the 5 of us dressed in our wedding outfits. They were very determined to help us and the five of us followed them into Walmart down to the tire isle. However Walmart wouldn’t sell us a tire since it was too late so we bought another more heavy duty spare that they would sell and headed out to the parking lot for tire change number two. It all looked like it was going to work but the rim on the new tire wasn’t wide enough. So we all traipsed back into Walmart again to take the tire back. It was already after midnight if not later at this point.
We all came back to the parking lot and I called AAA while Morris kept calling friends to try and find a tire the right size. Unfortunately AAA does not provide tires so without a usable spare the most they could do is tow us and there were no 24 hour tire places in all of Longview. Morris’ friends also didn’t have the right tire size so we tried another Walmart. The one on the other side of town would sell us the right size tire so we all piled into the cars with 4 working tires and headed across town. We arrived at Walmart, bought the tire and then drove back to where Joyce’s car was parked at the other Walmart.
By this time it was after 2. Morris’ brother was supposed to help him mount the tire which is very difficult to near impossible without the right tools. However his brother had already gone to bed. We wanted to give up but weren’t really sure what we should do. Should we stay in Longview somewhere, drive back to Dallas with the roommates and leave the car in Longview. The only people we knew in Longview, besides our new friends Ashley and Morris, were the children of two couples from PNG. It was late by this point and we didn’t really want to bother them but were weighing our options. This was all happening as Morris was trying to get the old shredded tire off the rim. This incorporated a series of very inventive innovations. Including but not limited to a hacksaw and his truck. He sawed through the tire and then ran over it a couple times to get it loose enough to get it off of the rim. Despite the cold this was very entertaining in an exhausted, long day, Texas culture sort of way. Morris was very determined.
I kept thinking during the course of the evening that Walmart was a very fitting setting for all of these activities. Walmart is in some ways an American cultural center, open 24 hours, well lit parking with cameras too. I can’t think of a safer place away from home to be trying to change a tire at 3 in the morning. The evening could have gone very different if we had just admitted defeat when the tire was first down but each next step, buying a spare, buying another tire, changing the tire kept our hope up that it would happen and we would be able to get back to Dallas that night.
When Morris was doing his best to get the tire off the rim we realized that it would be just as much work to get the new tire back on the rim without the right tools. So we bit the bullet and called our PNG friends and thanked Morris and Ashley profusely for their help. They went above and beyond in so many ways and gave me such a great impression of the hospitality of Texans. By 4 in the morning we were at our friend’s house warming up in their comfortable guest bed. Joyce and I slept exhaustedly and awoke to Sunday breakfast. After breakfast our friends took us to Walmart on the way to church where the tire was mounted and we were ready to roll by 10:30.
Joyce and I made it back safely to Dallas with time to spare before our evening flight back to California. This was my first trip to Texas and it was quite an adventure but I met some great Texans and now have toured a good portion of the Walmarts in Longview.