It was 3:36 in the afternoon when I received a text message while at work. It was from Mandy, the Savior of our Sanity. She was writing to inform me in her typically mindful and proactive style that there was an issue at the house, and it would likely require my attention. I was relieved the root of the matter did not originate from anything the kids had done nor was it particularly serious in nature but it would, as I would soon learn, evoke a near community-wide response.

It's heartwarming to know that we live in a place that is full of generosity and good will. A place that if you need a cup of sugar, any number of neighbors are more than happy to foist a five pound bag upon you. A place where if an ambulance stops at your address to service a family member, the outpouring of offers to help are limitless. A place where if your house gets struck by lightning during a fierce storm at midnight and has flames spewing out the gable vent, multiple attentive folks will call 911.

Fortunately, we had neither empty pantry, broken bones nor house afire. What we had was a minor, first-world inconvenience and despite the trivial nature of the issue, there was an outpouring of offers to assist and no shortage of strangers and known entities alerting us to the problem.

The Honda van had been parked in the street, and the tire had been slowly deflating throughout the day. When I arrived home at six that evening, I pulled into the driveway and barely had one foot out of the car when one of the kids alerted me in an excited tone, "Dad, the van has a flat tire." With the unseasonably warm weather, it seemed people needed something to talk about and our tire was it. Upon recapping later in the evening, I learned that Wife had received texts and phone calls in addition to in-person reports regarding the state of the van. There were even offers to help change the tire. It was community spirit at its best brought on by a nail being in the right place at the right time, and to all those that alerted us and offered help, we are thankful.

I did not immediately act upon the deflationary event since the van's use was not critical to the daily routine. But there was more at play here than essential use, darkening skies and general reluctance. The van, despite it's nice features of sliding doors, ample kid capacity and relative reliability has one serious indignity that I loath to suffer. Some may say that driving a Honda minivan is the definition of indignity but they just haven't had enough kids to appreciate the beauty of utilitarian transport.

The biggest shortcoming Honda built into the van is the spare tire. Or rather, the tiny donut-sized disk that they refer to as a spare tire. One cannot drive any vehicle around the block with a donut spare without people staring, glaring, honking, pointing, gesturing and judging you as a person with moral deficiencies. Never mind that it is perfectly engineered for its purpose and a legitimate means of rescue. It's embarrassing, sad, screams incompetence and should be avoided if at all possible. And avoid it i did. Under the cover of darkness, I filled the tire with a can of Fix-a-Flat and let it sit overnight. The next day I aired it up to a decent running pressure and proudly drove it to the tire store for a new set of shoes. No one stared, no one honked and it felt great.