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Stranded in St. Louis with two flat tires: How mindset builds reality

After our stay in Boone, Tom and I headed towards St. Louis. We planned on meeting some friends for dinner in the city before heading towards their house to crash. As we were following the directions on the GPS, we ended up taking the wrong exit from the interstate. No big deal. A quick glance at the map looked like we could drive through town to get to our destination.

We navigated a slew of bumps and potholes along the road --- one right after the other. Then, THUD, we drove through one of the biggest potholes I've ever seen! The pothole minefield had ended, but the car felt a little off: like it was leaning to one side.

I told Tom to stop the car so we could check it out. We pulled into a bus stop on the side of the road, got out of the car, and looked at the damage. Turns out we had, not one, but two problems. The front and back tires on the right side of the car were completely flat! We had pulled over just in time to prevent us from driving on the metal wheel (or "rim").

car with two flat tires
pulled over at the bus stop with two flat tires

We've changed flat tires before, but never had to do two at once. This was a little different, but not really a big deal. Tom called around and found a place to repair the car while I gave the towing company our location. As we were calling around, there were a bunch of people that walked and drove by asking if they could give us any help. One of them even offered to change our tire until he realized we had two flats. He did the next best thing he could, and gave us a recommendation on where to get our car fixed.

Looking around, the neighborhood was a little run down, but there were so many helpful people. It seemed like everyone knew exactly which road we had our accident on and sympathized with our situation. It wasn't too bad, and we waited patiently for our tow to get to us.

However, after waiting around for 20 more minutes or so, the atmosphere seemed to change. A squad of cop cars came by to tell us we were in the wrong part of town. We saw the same black truck slowly pass by at least three times. We thought we were getting approached by our tow, but it was the front half of a semi. The driver stopped in the middle of the road, rolled down his window, and told us, "Do you know where you are?! You had better get the hell out of here. You picked the wrong place to break down."

Needless to say, none of this was very comforting. What was going to happen to us that everyone else seemed so afraid of? I did not feel safe anymore and kept looking up and down the street hoping that each large vehicle I saw was our tow. I had multiple conversations with the tow company trying to find out why our locations weren't matching up. The company said our driver was at the location, but he was nowhere in sight. I gave street names and cross streets, building numbers and names, landmarks, GPS coordinates, the works. Turns out, the tow truck was in St. Louis, and we were in East St. Luis. (I didn't even know there were two different St. Louis's and would need to specify which one we were in.)

St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri

East St. Louis, Illinois
East St. Louis, Illinois

After all the mix ups were cleared up, we finally got a tow out of the city, across the bridge to St. Louis, and to the repair shop. Everything turned out just fine: the car was fixed, we saw our friends, and even explored St. Louis, Missouri. (The above pictures were taken from the top of the St. Louis Gateway Arch.)

Looking back on the situation, I am reminded that our thoughts create our reality.

In the beginning, I thought, "this isn't really a big deal. I'm so glad there are so many people willing to help." But that eventually changed to, "OMG, I need to get out of here NOW!" It's interesting that even though the place we were didn't actually change, it changed significantly for me. That's the power of the mind. The bus stop where we were might have been entirely different for Tom. One location, three different views, and none of them are wrong.

Our realities are made by the thoughts in our head, the experiences we bring with us, and the things we see (or don't see) because of the above. So the next time we're stuck seeing a situation one way, know that a change in perspective can change everything.

When was the last time you changed your perspective on something or had that 20/20 hindsight that allowed you to see the situation differently? Let me know in the comments below.

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