It turned out to be a strange drive to work.
Earlier this week, I was making my usual drive to Houston’s Hobby airport to catch a flight. I was only few blocks from the airport when a car next to me started honking its horn. I looked around and the driver was frantically motioning for me to roll down my window. When I did, he urgently said that I had a problem with my right front tire and that I needed to pull over.
The neighborhood around Hobby is not the best, but it was daylight and plenty of people were around. Thinking that I probably had a flat tire, I whipped into a gas station to check the tire and look for an air pump. As I parked in front of the station, the other car pulled up beside me.
A tall, thin Hispanic man in his mid-20s jumped out and rushed over. I noticed that there was a woman holding a baby in the front passenger seat. In the rush, I didn’t think until later that the baby should have been in a car seat. At the time, I just made the judgement that they didn’t seem like a threat.
Although difficult to understand because of his accent, the man told me that my right front tire had been wobbling and smoking. He said that he thought I might have a steering problem or a brake issue and that he didn’t think the car was safe to drive.
I had not seen or heard anything abnormal. There was no brake noise and the car didn’t shake as you would expect with a bad tire. When I looked at the tire, it was properly inflated. There was no leaking brake fluid or any sign of a problem. I wondered what the man’s game was.
I told him that I was only a few blocks from where I was going and that I would be careful. He seemed alarmed and said again that the car was not safe, offering to call a tow truck to take it to a garage.
Aha! I thought. You’ll call your friend’s tow truck to take me to his garage where you’ll stick me with a huge bill.
“No thanks,” I told him. “I know a shop where I can take it.”
As I got in and started to back out of the parking space, the man made a cross with his finger in the dust on my windshield. He seemed to be praying as I pulled away.
I thought about stopping by a shop that was near where I planned to park, but there seemed to be nothing wrong. Eventually I decided to just proceed with my original plan.
While on my trip, I talked to a friend who was a mechanic. The man’s behavior baffled him.
“If there was a brake or tire problem, you should feel either the wheel or the steering column shaking,” he said. Both of us thought that the guy was a scam artist.
When I returned, I drove home. I drove a little slower than normal, paying attention for strange sounds or vibrations. Everything seemed normal.
The next day, just to be on the safe side, I took the car to my normal shop and asked them to check it out. I didn’t expect to find anything wrong. Instead, their inspection revealed that the brake caliper on the right, front tire had been sticking. When I released the brake, the caliper stayed engaged and was wearing down the brake pads. This caused the caliper and the pads to get very hot and caused the smoke the man had seen.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. The right front tire had a bulge the size of a fist that could have caused a blowout. The bulge was unrelated to the brakes, but, if it hadn’t been for the brake problem, the tire problem would probably not have been discovered until too late. You see, the bulge was on the sidewall of the tire on the side that was underneath the car. There was no way to see it without taking the tire off.
If it had not been for the man who pulled me over, I would have probably had a blowout soon. Given my driving patterns, the odds are that it would have been on the interstate where the consequences could have been disastrous.
Some may attribute my near miss to random chance, but I have to ascribe the miraculous timing of the incident to God’s intervention. While it would be easy to call it a coincidence, I have seen too many similar coincidences to accept that they all represent random chance.
In fact, my mother owes her life to a similar “coincidence.” Several years ago, she developed abdominal pains and was rushed to the emergency room. While there, she was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. The cancer was already in the lymph nodes, but treatable. If she had discovered the disease only a few days later, the cancer might have spread through out her whole body.
After her successful surgery, there was another “coincidence” when she suffered a gall bladder attack and had to have her gall bladder removed. The gall bladder surgery came just before she started chemotherapy. If it had happened only a few works later, with her immune system weakened by the chemotherapy, it would have been much more dangerous.
I don’t know if the man who pulled me over was merely a Good Samaritan or an angel is disguise, but I do believe that he was sent by God. When I wondered if I had imagined the whole thing, I looked on my windshield for the cross. It was still there.
If he reads this, I’d like to say thanks and tell him that I’m sorry for doubting him. Wherever he is, may God bless him and his family.
And thanks to God for sending him. The incident proves again that, as the hymn says, “his eye is on the sparrow (Matt6:26) and I know he watches me.”