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The Retreat was a memorable occasion for most of us. But not many can say that the ride home was also memorable! To save costs, we had rented a Penske truck and picked up several crates of water bottles ourselves. The unused cartons were to be returned to Laks‘ home, to be dealt with later.

Not being professional truck drivers, we layman supervised the loading of (and also loaded) the truck on one side only- thus dumping the majority of the weight on one tire. Arun was the designated driver, with Ram following him in his van, both of them with hazard lights on as they were diving slowly.

As they drove cautiously at 30mph on Rt 1 N, towards Laks‘ home, Ram noticed smoke rising from the aforementioned tire. Ram called Arun to inform him and both of them constantly stayed in touch, to check on the status of the smoking tire. Ram admitted to praying: he requested God to let the caravan reach Laks‘ house safely; whereas Arun admitted that he thought everything would be just fine. Both wisely agreed to drive slower.

At this point, Arun‘s wife Purnima drove past them. Wondering why they are driving so slowly, she tried to drive slowly ahead of them, with her hazard lights on… but they were barely crawling, that‘s how slow they were driving! So, she left the guys to their own devices and drove home.

As they drove barely 20miles an hour on a 50mph road, unlike our part-timers, a real trucker honked twice and indicated them to pull over. Ram thought for a moment that this could be a Penske Company Spy and said some choice words (to himself) that cannot be printed here! But as it turned out, this was only a Good Samaritan, out to help our Nagarathars.

He inspected the tires and advised rearrangement of all items inside evenly, thus distributing the weight equally among


all tires. The alternative was to drive one mile and take a ten minute break to cool off the tires. ―Otherwise,‖ he said ―The tire may burst.‖

Complicating the matter was the fact that

the said tire was very, very close to the gas tank, thus a fire followed by a full scale explosion was not out of the question! He then kindly offered to help with the rearrangement. So with disbelief at the seriousness of the situation, Ram and Arun opened the truck.

The other truck driver took one look at the amount of stuff inside (apart from the carton, we also had everything from speakers, electronics, noticeboards, and million other things inside), and politely declined to help and quickly decided to take off! As he was leaving, he mentioned insurance, to which Arun and Ram replied ―YES! Fully!‖ The trucker gave a royal salute and walked away.

Adding more fuel to the fire (no pun intended!), Ram‘s wife Susheela saw them on the highway, parked on the shoulder with hazard lights on and truck open. She had her mother and kids with her. Unfortunately for Ram, she had also noticed the trucker honking at them! Pulling over ahead of the Penske truck, she came to speak with them.

After hearing what the trucker had to say, Arun and Ram got a lashing for all the fiasco from Susheela, especially for loading the heavy stuff on one side! ―It is common sense!‖ she reasoned. Ram tried to shift the blame and said ―It was not me! It was the laborers!‖ With the heat and the tempers running high, assuring Susheela that everything would be A-OK, the caravan started driving again.

Ram called Arun to discuss a strategic plan of evacuation in event of the tire catching

by ram arunachalam and purnima palaniyandi

fire- ―If I call and say ‗Jump‘, pull over and jump pronto!‖ Words of wisdom, indeed!

Arun, who still thought nothing would happen, then decided to cool off the hot tire with a bottle of water before driving again! A drop in the ocean, but it couldn‘t hurt, could it? Based on their instincts and Susheela's advice about upcoming parking lot, Arun decided to pull into it and get some help.

At this point, Susheela had reached Purnima‘s home and apprised her of the gravity of the situation. Purnima was under the impression that not much was wrong- her husband did not tell her everything to avoid the same tongue- lashing! Both called Ram‘s cell phone to get an update.

And Ram‘s witty reply did not make Susheela amused,

as she did not appreciate his timely quip: ―Truck Innum Pathikiuttu Eriayalay Amma; romba pasikuthu! And we are parked on the side and rearranging stuff‖.

After which Ram called our fearless leader and he made arrangements for Baskar, Jaya, Krish, Monica, Kumar, Subu, Shanthi, Shiva, Sadhana, Shantha, Laks, Vignesh and Meiya and Shantha's sister's family to come over for assistance.

The troops unpacked and rearranged everything! As for the heat and hard work, there was plenty of water available to cool them off!

Names of the parties: Ram Arunachalam & Susheela

Ranganathan, Arun

Muthukaruppan & Purnima Palaniyandi, Baskaran Ramasamy & Jaya Baskaran, Subbu Ganesan & Shanthi Subbu, Kumar Arunachalam, Laks Meyyiappan & Shantha Laks, and Shantha‘s sister‘s family, and the little troopers: Krish, Monica, Shiva, Sadhana, Vignesh and Meiyya, and the trucker, of course!

September 2011

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