Even when I was a relatively strong and healthy whippersnapper, tire-changing wasn't my strong suit.
Now as a geezer recovering from hip replacement surgery, it seemed like an impossible task. I'd have called for road service assistance but my cell phone was dead and the charger was in another vehicle.
So I took a deep breath, rummaged around for the jack and tire wrench, and set about loosening the lug nuts on the wheel with the damaged tire. This was not on the list of recommended activities for new hip rehab.
And so when a big rig stopped in front of me on the shoulder of the Interstate, and the driver approached me with a big smile and "Need help?" I was ready to believe in Santa Claus and guardian angels.
He was husky, happy and obviously foreign-born: his limited English was heavily accented with what sounded to me like Eastern European overtones.
He finished the task at hand in no more than 10 minutes. I proffered a thank-you payment. He recoiled from it. "No! No!" he said. I thanked him profusely and asked his name. I could not repeat, let alone spell, what he said.
For some reason I cannot articulate I'll always think of him as "Vladimir." But the name he said didn't sound like that, either.
Saved by an immigrant. I hope he's legal. In this part of the country, that's no better than a 50-50 hope.
I got to thinking about the fierce anti-immigrant sentiment around here, especially during this electioneering season.
I've been close to some of the Tea Party ugliness about immigrants, particularly in the wake of the infamous new Arizona law.
It occurred to me that one"Vladimir" is worth more to this country in terms of human values than 20 or 30 of the placard-carrying bigots in the Tea Party Crowds.
But that's a hasty judgment. After review in the replay booth, make that read 50 or 60 bigots.