What story are you living?

I had just finished hosting an extraordinary wellness retreat in North Carolina and was headed home.

My husband was in the driver’s seat, and we were going north on route 81.

One of the great things about Virginia is the speed limit – it’s 70 miles per hour! For a native New Yorker stuck in 55 mph, that’s a fun speed limit. It means you can drive 75 miles per hour (not legally, of course) to get where you’re going much more quickly.

Unfortunately, a minivan driving directly in front of us hit a fire-log that was strewn on the road. It must’ve accidentally fallen out of the back of someone’s truck.

The minivan’s tire blew out immediately after hitting the log and sent that log shooting backwards directly toward us. It hit our front left tire, blowing it out, and then the log shot underneath our car and out behind us.

Thankfully, our car and the minivan didn’t collide with each other, or any of the other cars on the road. That could have caused a massive pile up of accidents on the highway.

We safely made it over to the shoulder and immediately called 911.

State Trooper, Lam, showed up very quickly. He assessed the situation and checked all of the vehicles involved and said, “We’ve got to get your cars off the shoulder for your safety.”

My friend Shirley who was in the car with us, was already on the phone with Triple AAA for roadside assistance, but they wouldn’t be able to get their service truck to us for at least 90 minutes.

The Trooper said that was too long to wait.

He said, “The longer you stay on the side of the road, the higher your risk of another accident. It’s not safe. We need to move you and these cars off the road now.”

It was a wise assessment. This was his beat and he knew the road. He radioed for a tow truck.

While we were waiting, I started a conversation with him.

He said to me, “I’m very surprised this wasn’t much worse. This road is cursed.”

I said, “Cursed?”

He said, “Yes, ma’am. I’ve seen so many terrible accidents on this road. The worst I’ve ever seen in my entire career. It’s a cursed road.”

I said, “Well, thankfully, we are all alive and no-one got hurt. Miracles do happen.”

Within a few minutes a service truck, rather than a tow truck, pulled up behind our cars.

Trooper Lam looked at me and said, “Hmmmmh… these guys don’t work on Sundays. I wonder what he’s doing here?”

A young man wearing a bright neon yellow and green jumpsuit, hopped out of the service truck. His name was Mason and he worked for the VDOT: The Virginia Department of Transportation. They are highway workers hired by the state and will change your tire… FOR FREE!

“Wow!” I said to Trooper Lam, “Miracle number two today! We don’t have to pay for tow truck service!”

Mason began changing our tire and much to our dismay, we saw that the log had destroyed the inside rim. We didn’t have a flat tire, we actually had a broken rim – which was way more expensive than a flat tire. Egads!

When Mason finished putting on our spare tire, Trooper Lam advised us to drive slowly, get to the nearest service shop or big store and buy a new rim so we could get home safely. He said we shouldn’t drive the five hours back to New York on our spare tire. It wasn’t safe.

We thanked everyone for their service helping people like us in need, and we hit the road.

This time much more slowly.

As we were driving away, my husband turned to me and said, “The alignment is off. The car feels shaky.”

Within less than a quarter mile, it was very clear that something was terribly wrong.

The entire car started shaking and we had to pull back off the road to call 911 again.

When Trooper Lam met up with us the second time he couldn’t believe what he saw.

He looked at the back wheel and said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” and he shook his head in disbelief.

Here’s what the tire wall of our rear tire looked like:

And, here’s what the underside of that tire looked like.

Our back tire had been destroyed by the initial hit but somehow it held together long enough for us to get safely onto the shoulder of the road.

The most interesting thing to everyone there was that my husband checked the entire car, Trooper Lam checked the entire car, and Mason the VDOT worker checked the entire car after the first incident.

No-one saw ANY damage inflicted onto the back tire from that initial hit by the fire-log. It seemed to be fully inflated and intact – but in reality it was not.

Our experience on the road could have been much worse had that back tire blown out along with the front tire at the same time.

I thought about what Trooper Lam said, “this road is cursed.”

That certainly is one perspective.

Trooper Lam radioed for a flatbed truck this time.

With our car safely loaded on board the flatbed, I thanked Trooper Lam once again and said, “Lots of miracles happened on this road today. We are all still alive.”

He smiled at me, nodded his head in agreement and said, “Yes ma’am.”

One story could be that we lost a lot of money hiring a flatbed truck to take us off the road, pay for a hotel, and have to purchase two new tires and a rim.

But, money comes and goes.

Human life also comes and goes.

I believe one is much more valuable than the other. So, I don’t buy into the lost money story.

Another story could be that the road is cursed.

It certainly did seem that way.

The story I choose is that miracles happened on route 81 that day.

Our life is our story.

What story are you living?