A small kindness: How a flat tire made one patient's day a little merrier

By Kristy Bleizeffer Dec 13, 2013

Rick Carpenter, at left, and Greg Lewallen pose for a photo in the engineering building.

We love this little Christmas story from two members of our engineering crew, Greg Lewallen and Rick Carpenter. If you are inspired by their unsolicited act of kindness, please pass it on.

It was first thing in the morning on Dec. 3, right at the start of the recent cold snap that sent temperatures plummeting below zero. Wyoming Medical Center’s engineering department answered a call about an elderly woman who had a flat tire in the south parking garage. Greg and Rick went to change it for her.

The woman told the men that she had driven her minivan from Riverton that morning and had no idea when the tire went flat. She had come for a radiation treatment and needed to drive home immediately after.

“We told her to go ahead and go to her appointment, and we’ll get it fixed,” Greg said.

As it turned out, that was easier said than done.

The woman’s spare was one of those hard, donut types and wouldn't be safe for the drive back to Riverton. The men tried to inflate the flat, but it wouldn't hold air. They took the tire to a local shop, and discovered it was ruined beyond repair. Worse, the shop didn’t have a new tire that would fit.

The tire was of an odd size and was being phased out, the tire shop said. Greg and Rick called other shops with no luck. They finally found a replacement at Casper Tire which had just one tire left in the right size. As they waited for employees to locate it in the store’s inventory, Rick turned to Greg and asked: “What do you think about if we just pay for this and split the cost?”

“That’s kind of weird,” Greg answered, “because I was thinking the same thing.”

Neither man gave the gesture a second thought. "Here’s a lady driving all the way up from Riverton. She was all alone, and then she had to worry about getting back safe and sound?" Greg explained. "It was the right thing to do at the time."

It took about an hour to track down the tire and put it on the woman’s van. Rick and Greg were just about finished when she came out of her appointment. She offered to pay them for their trouble and the tire, but they wouldn’t hear of it.

“No,” Rick told her. “Merry Christmas, and have a safe trip back to Riverton.”

It nearly brought the woman to tears. Anyone else on their crew would have done the same thing, Greg and Rick said, but they are thankful that it was them who got to do it.

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