On my way to PAB, I got a flat tire. About 30 miles north of Syracuse, near a little town called Parrish. One nice guy took me to a local shop, the kind you might find in the movies. The options were wait for someone to tow the car to the nearest dealership, 120 miles or more away, then fix the tires, then retrack the steps, or simply buy two new tires (the Mini takes special run-flats that you can’t get from just anywhere….), but even this would require a drive back to Syracuse. All options were pretty unattractive, but I said to myself, ok, let’s not get upset about this, let’s just cope and roll with it.
As a result, this turned into a great experience. The guy who ran the shop, Dave Reader, took me with him to get the replacements, so his guys could get lunch. Dave actually bought me lunch at his brother’s restaurant on the lake on the way back to the Shop, and I taught a garage full of people about podcasting.
I could have been paranoid and not gone with Dave to get the tires, staying put and worrying about how safe it would be to trust this mechanic in the middle of nowhere. But I went with it, and it turned into an amazing experience. I told him about my podcast about learning disabilities, and a whole new chapter opened in the adventure. Turns out, Dave has had an interesting life. He quit school in 10th grade because of his dyslexia and entered the service, later getting a GED. His daughter had problems in school, but he didn’t let them remove the “label” so she could continue to get help all through high school for her dyslexia, and now, she’s working on her second master’s and teaches autistic kids just outside of Boston. Dave’s been a township supervisor, and in every sense is a practical, down to earth guy, working hard to make a living when it’s getting harder for small businesses to make it every year.
This is a very real example of what happens to kids with LD over time. If it’s ignored, kids drop out of school and make other choices- why should they stay in school when it is nothing but a place where they feel stupid? Yet when Dave saw his daughter struggling as he did, he did everything he could to make sure she got the help he didn’t, and she not only went to college, but grad school. She’s also helping other children who need the same sort of helping hand in turn. Dave turned his situation around as well, but it wasn’t the path he wants for his kids- he wants the best for them, and has worked hard to get it despite his difficulties growing up.
For me, what could have been an awful situation turned out to be a real treasure. I got to teach a whole bunch of people about podcasting and internet radio; I learned more about how hard it is to have a small business in a small town these days; and that if you are willing to make the best of a bad situation and not freak out, amazing things can happen.
It’s that zen sense of things happen for a reason, even the bad stuff- you just have to find the teachable moment.
Sometimes the lesson is that some people are jerks, sometimes the lesson is that every day people have amazing capacity for kindness to absolute strangers. In the paranoid society we live in, we need a lot more people like Dave Reader from Parrish NY, who are decent and kind to people who need a little help. We need to be willing to talk to people and connect; get over our sense of self-importance, and you never know what you might discover. I discovered once again that opting to “go with the flow” and not get all worked up over a situation I could not control was much better than freaking out or melting down.
If I have any more of these “The Universe will unfold its treasures” experiences, I may just have to become a Buddhist. My experiment and new year’s resolution of trying to live without fear has been amazing so far- I can’t wait to see what happens next.