Tumbleweed Smith
Tumbleweed Smith

At speaking engagements I always take a first class PA system that consists of two giant speakers with stands, an amplifier and a bag of microphones and cables. We also have boxes of CDs and books that we sell at speeches. In addition to all that, we have our personal luggage and any special clothing I might wear at the podium. So our crossover SUV is fully loaded. We headed for Plainview where I was to keynote the chamber banquet.

We seldom have to use our equipment because the places where I speak have good sound systems. The sound system at the country club in Plainview was such that we couldn’t connect some necessary recording equipment. So we hauled out our system and used it at the banquet. When it was over, several people helped us load everything into our vehicle. We headed home to Big Spring, 130 miles away.

Usually we spend the night in places where we speak but this was a Thursday and we had to be in Brenham on Friday. So we planned to spend the night at home, then leave Friday morning for Brenham.

About 10 miles south of Plainview, not quite to Hale Center, we had a flat. It was after ten o’clock at night, cold and windy. We pulled onto the shoulder of IH-27 and considered what to do. We tried to find a 24-hour tire service in Plainview but there was none. For some reason I called Walmart because we had Walmart tires. I told the person on the phone our situation. He told me that on the back of our driver’s license there was a phone number for 24-hour roadside assistance. We called it and within 30 minutes 2 deputies from the Hale County Sheriff’s Department pulled in behind us.

They told us to get inside and stay warm, that they would handle everything. They took the huge speakers, amplifier and everything else from the back of the car in order to get to the spare. They changed the tire in the cold, dark, windy night with highway traffic whizzing by, then told us the little spare tire was low. They said they would follow us to a convenience store in Hale Center that had an air machine. It cost $1.50 to get air. One of the deputies told me, “I’ve got five quarters. If you have one, we’ll be in business.” I told him I would go get change, which I did. After depositing six quarters, the machine came to life and the deputy put air in the spare tire.

I owe these guys something and tried to pay them. They wouldn’t take any money. One of them said, “This is not just a career it’s a calling.” He said he had changed about a hundred tires during his 10 years with the sheriff’s office.

We drove home non-stop on the little spare tire. It served its purpose for 120 miles. We drove 60 miles an hour and got home at 1:30 AM.

I did not know about the number on the back of my driver’s license. What an awesome thing for people stranded on a highway on a winter night. I wrote the Hale County Sheriff and complimented him on his high caliber of deputies. They were courteous, efficient and went way out of their way to take care of us.