Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Our lovely Ford truck, perfect in every way, had a flat tire in Interstate 35 yesterday on our way to the hospital in Minneapolis.

Ken had to very slowly maneuver his truck to the emergency lane, away from the ongoing traffic and park there to wait for help to come.

At first I wasn't worried because Ken is mechanically minded - till I realized that he wears a pacemaker. Oh uh.

I am sure you too are aware that car manufacturers of today uses air tools to tighten the lugs on a wheel, which make them near impossible to remove with a simple lug wretch provided with the car jack. The tight lug bolts provide a safety factor, but has made it almost impossible for someone to change his or her own tire. Especially someone with a pacemaker.

Interestingly, in a matter of seconds a highway patrol eases behind us to check on us and offer help. He said he can call a back-up that would replace the tire. By this time though, Ken is already on the phone talking to a Ford representative asking for roadside assistance. We gave them our location and within 20 minutes a truck turns up with a friendly mechanic driving it. He inspects the tire, open the back seat of our car to get the jack, remove the spare tire from the back of the truck, replaced the busted one and had Ken sign the service form and off we go.

The whole process only took about 15 minutes. We did not even leave our seats the whole time and we did not pay a thing!

This really amazes me because we don't have such road side services in the Philippines. If your car breaks down, or have a flat tire, or anything goes wrong, you can't expect that help will be on its way in a matter of minutes. Unless you call a relative or a friend. What will appear is the towing service who will ripped you off with exorbitant fee so you can get your car from their impounding area and then you can bring it to the mechanic.

So while we are speeding toward Faribault City, I was thinking, I would add this to the list of things I love about living in the US. In this day and age when I may encounter danger on this country's highways and biways, having the assurance that help is on the way in a matter of minutes is indeed very comforting.

Let's admit it. A car is a machine. This means, no matter how new and sophisticated it is, or how well maintained it is, there is always a chance of something going wrong with it.

Thank you America/Ford for the roadside assistance.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Finally got my license.

I drive to our local supermarket today - by myself!

Yes, I passed my road test last week on my first try. Woot, woot!

I never really pictured myself driving a car because just the thought of it scared me. I just couldn't do it. I was too nervous. I thought at my age, ha, ha, I was just too old to catch on.

But I live in a city that has no public transport, hence getting a driver's license is a must-have otherwise, I won't be able to go anywhere without asking someone to drive for me.

Yes, I knew the time had come and I was determined to pass the test; I just had no idea how I would do it.

Fortunately, Wells is a wonderful place to learn to drive with wide road and countrysides. Besides, I have Ken who is a very good teacher. I feel comfortable to make mistakes because I know he will not bite my head off if I do something ridiculous like reverse into a lamp post.

It was Dec. 2, a Friday when I took the test. When I got my schedule I was a little apprehensive because I know that it normally snow during this month. But on that particular day, the sun was bright and the sky clear. And snow had not fallen in this part of the state yet.

I practiced for weeks prior to my schedule. I am aware that i'll be tested for my basic skills of the road. So I was very mindful of fully stopping at the stop sign and also signaling properly before leaving and re-entering the parking lot. I also practiced to parallel park, and to do a three point turn. I made sure I practiced these two maneuvers the most days before my road test.

It paid off, because I managed to ace them both.

I could say that my road test was a very pleasant experience. The instructor was very nice and he made me feel at ease. I was calm, but alert. If I was nervous, I know I will be bound to make a mistake. But because I was relaxed, I allow things to just happen. I listened to my instructor, signalling when he asked me to turn left or right, stopped at stop signs, parked when he asked me to, and did the maneuvers.

When I eased my car at the parking lot, he said: "you did very well, you passed the test!"

I was so happy but only muttered a simple "thank you".

The next day, we had snow. Flakes would be the wrong word because, within minutes, the snow blanketed our entire neighborhood in a layer of white. Had it occurred yesterday it would be difficult to see where the lines of the road marked the two lanes and to think that I haven't driven in a snow laden road.



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