There are things I dread when I’m on the road. Two of them happened to me recently.

Flat Tire

One of my big fears is getting a flat tire while there is a passenger on board (POB). Unfortunately, this happened recently when I was driving a passenger from Rumson, NJ to Manhattan. We were on the Garden State Parkway North at mile marker 98 when I heard a bang. I looked at my dash and watched the tire pressure on my rear driver side tire go from 38 to 30 to 20 to 10 to 1. Then I heard and felt the dreaded “thump, thump, thump,” as my SUV began limping along the parkway. I was in the left (passing) lane, so I made my way over to the far-right lane to park my disabled vehicle and fix the flat tire.

I explained the situation to my passenger, who was understandably not happy. It was 6:00am and he had to be in Manhattan by 7:00am. This was going to be tight, even with no flat tire – so I contacted dispatch to see if there was another Chauffeur who could intercept my passenger and bring him to his intended destination.

Bad news: The closest driver was 45 minutes away, although he was heading towards us.

Next, I got to work to jack up the SUV and replace the flat with my spare tire. The spare wasn’t easily accessible. I needed power tools to get the lug nuts off the flat tire and finish the job.

Then I had to switch to Plan B. I called 911 to get roadside assistance to switch out my flat tire with my spare.

After checking with my passenger on his state of mind, I reassured he would get to Manhattan as fast as possible. He was dubious.

Roadside Assistance arrived 15 minutes later. We worked quickly to remove the wheel with the flat tire using his power tools. Fifteen minutes later, we were back on the Garden State Parkway, heading to Manhattan.

I called the other Chauffeur, who was attempting to intercept my passenger to let him know I was mobile again. He appreciated my phone call.

At 8:00, we arrived at my passenger’s destination in Manhattan. He told me he was impressed how fast we made it into the city.

This story had a reasonably happy ending, except I lost my next ride and my passenger was late for his 7:00 meeting… but he was not mad or upset.

Dead Battery

This was an especially harrowing experience for me. It also taught me a lesson. I was parked in Manhattan, waiting for my passenger on a wait and return. To conserve gas and limit air pollution, I turned off the engine, but still kept the power on, so I could listen to news on the radio.

I must not have been paying attention, because before I knew it, the car went dead! How could this have possibly happened? I was frantically trying to start my car, with no response – except for the dreaded “click, click, click.”

Remaining calm on the outside (but freaking out on the inside), I calmly walked down the street and asked a construction worker in his truck for help. He whipped out a battery charged jump starter, and in a few minutes got my SUV started.

I was so grateful, I offered him $20, but he refused and told me to “pay it forward” – to help another person in need in the future.

I no longer keep the power on and drain my battery; I now listen to a portable transistor radio that I keep in my vehicle.

The point of this Street Story is: No matter the situation, keep calm and carry on. There is no reason to panic, because panicking only delays the action you need to take to resolve the situation.

Article by RH Stovall, Jr

R.H. Stovall, Jr. is a Senior Executive Chauffeur, trainer and mentor for Royal Coachman Worldwide in Denville, NJ.

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