Crazy Hearts en Route to Houston

13/09/2023 Wesley Dean
View Article Crazy Hearts Diary

“God is real, you know that?”

The drive from New Orleans to Houston was one of the most challenging and surreal trips so far. The roads were rickety and broken. There was so much highway confusion and roadway construction. I remember imagining that the trucks were like great white sharks swimming past from the left and pushed our RV to the right, as if we were a baby whale that had lost it’s mother. It was all starting to feel like a surreal dream. Too much coffee and not enough food, maybe?

It was exciting though. Exciting because the adventure was in full swing and we had already seen and experienced so much. All we had was each other, and it was around this time that our small Crazy Hearts crew became like family and we started to feel wild and free. It was just us and the long stretches of highway.

We were a few hours on the road somewhere between Houston and New Orleans when a woman in a red Subaru pulled up beside us. She eventually got our attention and was pointing to our left tyre, signally that it was flat.

As we pulled off the highway, my wife Charlotte immediately made a phone call to roadside assistance.

We parked in a small gas station and the kids got out and kicked the soccer ball around. They were just happy to be outside, even though it was a million degrees.

I walked around the RV and it didn’t look like we had a flat tyre at all. I wondered for a second, that hopefully the woman was wrong, or maybe, her intention was something more sinister, and I looked around the area for anyone suspicious. Tensions were high like that sometimes. And, in my defense, I learned that can happen to some people out on the road.

We waited for a few hours. The kids jumped in and out of the RV. They were happy playing computer games to playing soccer. I think they enjoyed it whenever we stopped because we had been moving constantly for over a week or so.

As we watched the sunset starting to appear over the Louisiana highway, Jim from Jennings Tire Center arrived.

Jim had been changing tyres for 40 years. He’d seen and heard it all. A real gentleman. Grew up poor and wanted to dedicate his life to service. The way he held himself, he reminded me of my father-in-law. Confident, great posture, spoke with conviction, and had a personality as big as the sky.

The supposed flat tyre was a mystery to both Jim and me at first. None of them looked flat, but Charlotte and I had already called for assistance, and seeing as though we were flagged down the way we were, I wanted to check it anyway. We still had a long way to go, to get to Houston that night and I didn’t want to ignore the woman in the red car, and I didn’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with the kids on a highway in the middle of the night. I’d never travelled these roads before and something was telling me, I had to check the tyre no matter what.

Jim tested all six tyres and he found that the tyre in question was completely fine, but, mysteriously the opposite tyre on the right passengers side was about to die!

I was amazed because the woman who flagged us down couldn’t have seen the opposite tyre from her side of the road, so she couldn’t have known. And even if she could, everything appeared to be fine anyway. It was not until Jim’s inspection, that we had learned that the tyre had been slowly losing air, and within another hour, we would’ve been in trouble..

Coincidence?

The surreal dream kept on getting more and more surreal.

So, Jim started changing the tyre, and he realized he didn’t have the right wrench to remove the tyre from the RV. He thought he may have to go back to his workshop, which would’ve taken a lot more time, and I prayed that he didn’t have to, I was eager to get to Houston that night.

There was a red truck that was parked in front of us and an older Mexican guy was sleeping in the drivers seat. He had a lot of different tools in the bed of his truck and he looked like he had just left a building site. So Charlotte said that she’d ask him if he had the right wrench to help us remove the tyre. She’s very resourceful and bold like that.

Miraculously, he did, and my prayers were answered!

His broken English made it hard for us to communicate, but his smile went from ear to ear, and was as bright as the Louisiana sunset, that was now beginning to take its last breath over the mountains. He explained he’d driven across the border from Mexico and was working in the area.

Jim successfully removed the tyre and gave him back his tools. We offered him some money and we were thankful for his help. As we walked closer to his truck, Charlotte noticed he had a strange looking doll strapped to the passenger seat. He quickly remarked that he was a ‘little crazy.’ And Charlotte replied, ‘aren’t we all!’ He left soon after.

I sat with Jim and watched him change the tyre. He talked about life and where he’d been. His brother had lived in Australia for a while. He’d never really travelled but it felt like he’d been all over the world, with all the people he had met over the years changing tyres on the side of the highway. There was something about Jim that was different. He had a presence, maybe he was enlightnened, or he’d just seen so much that his understanding of life and the world was uniquely his own. As the new tyre went on, Jim changed gears in his conversation. He turned to me, put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes and said  “God is real, you know that?” He said that he didn’t want my money and that I was to donate the money at a local church.

I got back in the RV feeling like I had just had some sort of higher intervention. As if I had encountered angels. Was Jim even a real person? Who was the Mexican guy? Who was the woman in the red Subaru that would never know, that by flagging us down, when there was no visible flat tyre, did in fact save us from tyre trouble down the road? Why didn’t I just cancel the roadside assistance when I noticed that there was no physical evidence of a flat tyre? I didn’t even think of that.

Was this just a surreal dream I was having? No, it wasn’t. This was Crazy Hearts.

All I knew, was that we were suddenly back on the road and on our way to Houston…

Wesley Dean