Autism is difficult to comprehend for most people without a personal reference point. But, for those who have a family member with Autism their lives are forever changed.

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The AAA Ride Along

While my son is attending college out of state his car sits idle in the garage. Since my daily commute exceeds 200 miles a day, I thought that it might be mutually beneficial for me to use my son’s car on occasion. This would not only reduce the mileage impact on my personal vehicle but also keep his car active and in working order.

Although it was only 5:15 pm when I left the office, it was dark and cold. I traveled only about 15 miles before I found myself violently pulled into the center Hwy Median due to a blowout of the front left tire. As I exited the SUV into the brisk 36 degree air, I was eager to change the tire and get back in the warm vehicle and back on the road. I loosened my tie as I pulled out the jack. Then came the horrifying discovery…..there appeared to be no spare tire.

I quickly took a tour around the parameter of the vehicle to discover that there was in fact a spare tire, but it was currently representing the front right wheel. So……flat tire, no spare, approximately 90 miles from home, in freezing temperatures in the center HWY Median in a remote area. Thank goodness I have Auto Club.

Needless to say, I phoned home to explain the situation to my wife. She obtained a visual confirmation of the existence of a flat tire from my son’s vehicle sitting in the garage. I texted my son at college to tell him that I love him but that I was going to kill him. Soon after, a California Highway Patrol arrived at my location and radioed for a tow truck.

Approximately 45 minutes later the tow truck arrived. The SUV was loaded onto the tow truck and we were on our way. However due to the late hour, most tire stores were closed for the evening. The driver did make contact with Costco which was still open. So…..we were off to Costco. As we arrived, the tire specialist quickly came to the tow truck. He inspected the tire before heading to the computer. Then, he spoke the words that I feared; “unfortunately we don’t have the tire in stock.”

I looked over to my new found friend Fernando (tow truck driver) and asked if it was even practical for him to tow me over 90 miles to my home. He said that due to the level of my Auto Club membership that I could be towed but not by him since he had to remain in the area for emergency situations. Therefore, he removed my vehicle from the tow truck and issued me paperwork to provide the next driver. Temperatures dropped probably another 5 degrees as I patiently waited for the next tow truck.

Nearing the nine o’clock hour a tow truck finally appeared. I was never so excited to see someone that I did not know. Then, to my surprise I realized that it was my good friend Fernando. He already served two accidents before realizing that no one came to get me. So being the responsible person that he was, he decided to take the initiative and come and get me.

The SUV was loaded back on the tow truck and we were off. He said that we just had to make a couple of stops on my way home. I was so thrilled to be sitting in the warm cab of the truck again that it did not matter where we had to stop. I called my wife to provide an update and let her know that I was on the road and should be home in an hour and a half.

I assumed that our stop would simply be to refuel. Although this assumption was correct with our need to visit the gas station, it appeared that we needed to make 3 additional stops before embarking on the 90 mile trip home.

These stops were not without their benefits. I learned the most effective technique of using a shimmy rod to unlock a vehicle when a teenage girl locks her keys in the car. I learned the skill of drilling off a locking lug nut and enhanced my skills of replacing a spare tire. And finally, as we jumped the battery for the two elderly women who left their lights on while eating dinner at a restaurant I learned an important culinary tip (that Ranch Dressing is the only dressing that should ever be put on a salad).

Each time we stopped at a new location, I felt that my relationship Fernando being taken to the next level – as he would exit the cab of the truck the exposure of his upper buttocks regions was a visual tractor beam. Nonetheless following the recharging of the lovely ladies battery, we finally gassed up the tow truck and we were headed to my house.

I left the office at 5:15 pm and arrived home at 12:37 am. I was cold, hungry and tired. I had every right to be frustrated with the seven plus hour journey home. Although some of the frustration could be directed at my son (for not having a spare), the majority of the frustration should have been directed at the tow truck company which left me in a parking lot for a couple of hours before then having me participate in three separate service calls.

It was a bad situation for both myself and the tow truck driver. As a supposed AAA Premier Customer, I should have been extremely angry. Although the tow truck driver technically was not at fault, he was the employee in direct contact with the customer and therefore the one who would receive the wrath of the customer. With that said, I should have been angry but the only thought I had was “what an incredibly kind and genuine man I met this evening”. He sincerely cared for the well-being of each and every one of his service calls. He was sympathetic to their situation. He was gracious in his approach. He was sincere in his apologies.

The only thought that I (as a customer) should have had was one of frustration. However as a result of the incredible employee managing the situation, I as the customer felt nothing but gratitude. I as a businessman was envious of his customer service abilities and wished that all of my employees had the same natural instincts of my hero that day Fernando.

This Article Was Written By David


At 49 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. As a father of “almost always” perfect boys I am always surprised at what life has to offer.

Leave a Comment

  • Racheal Dolio December 27, 2011, 4:34 pm

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  • maxx John January 18, 2014, 3:06 am

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