Monday, May 7, 2007

Quick Change for a Flat Tire

The other day while driving near Port Zayed in Abu Dhabi, I heard that awful wub, wub, wub that can only mean one thing: the left rear tire was as flat as a pita bread.

What to do? I called M at his office. He said he'd come help.

"Bring a spare tire," I told him, because within minutes a nearby security guard and three Port workers in jumpsuits were dismantling my fairly-new Toyota minivan, trying to find the spare tire to replace the flat one.

"For this car you need a map," one of the workers, from Egypt, said in frustration.

He and the others were unscrewing every bolt, lifting every piece of plastic - even the permanent ones - and peeling back every inch of carpeting they could, to find the spare. They located a jack about as thick as a pencil. The manual let us down - the spare wasn't in the stated location. But they jacked up the car, undeterred.

"It's okay. My husband is coming," I said, getting a little nervous. The car seemed to be shaking even as a man had his head under it. They carried on, as if I hadn't said a word.

I put in another call to M. He had a spare but was stuck in traffic. It was about 100 degrees.

Eight-year-old Hugh, who'd just come from a birthday party, sensed this was going to be a long session. He found shade under a date palm tree a few feet away. More passersby stopped to consult (in Arabic) et voila! the spare was found under the middle of the car!

The car survived its strip search just fine by my eyes.

I pulled out all the cash I had - these men had worked incredibly hard - and gave it to them with gratitude, and Hugh and I were off.

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