The Case of the Flat Tires
July 2002

“The Case of the Flat Tires,” Ensign, July 2002, 62–63

The Case of the Flat Tires

My wife and I had just started managing an apartment complex when our car got a flat tire in the driveway. I took it in stride, put on the spare, and went to get the original tire fixed. As I tried to pay for the repair, I was told there would be no charge. When I asked why, the repairman told me that he had just put the air back in because there had been no leaks, just a small rock in the valve stem. That’s when the case of the flat tires began.

Over the next year we had repeated flat tires, and each time we found that someone had been letting out the air. Sometimes only one was flat, sometimes two. I had to purchase a hand pump to take care of the problem. My wife and I tried to find out who was letting out the air, but with no success. However, we had a strong suspicion that a certain 12-year-old boy living in our neighborhood was having fun at our expense. We thought of approaching the boy’s mother but couldn’t since we had no evidence he was letting out the air. We became very angry that the inconvenience of flat tires caused us to be late for meetings and work.

Sometimes I would look up while fixing the tire and see the boy. He seemed to be laughing, and while I wanted to yell at him, I knew that was not the kind thing to do. In recent years I had improved my attitude about kindness. In fact, I had developed a little saying to keep myself on track. I would say to myself:

Being kind is more important than being right,

Doing right is more important than being right.

I began to ask Heavenly Father to help me solve the problem. I always received the impression to be patient, and then my little verse would go through my head. Although my wife and I were frustrated that we could not resolve the problem, we knew things would work out. We just kept asking Heavenly Father to help us resolve it.

A year after the problem had started I became very sick. Our bishop rushed me to the doctor’s office, where I found out I had appendicitis. I was admitted to the hospital for an operation, and after a short stay I was sent home with strict instructions not to put stress on my healing body.

Shortly after I got home, my wife helped me to bed and read me to sleep. She then went to get me some essential medicine. The next thing I knew, she was waking me up.

“Marvin, all four tires on the car are flat!” she exclaimed. “I need to get your medicine—should I call our home teacher?”

After clearing my head of sleep, I said a short prayer asking for help. Rather than asking the home teacher for help, I felt distinctly prompted to ask the young boy! The impression shocked me!

I pondered this answer for almost half an hour before asking my wife back into the bedroom.

“Don’t call our home teacher,” I told her. “Instead, go visit the mother of the boy. Explain to her what has happened and ask if her son can help you fix the tires I cannot.”

My wife did so, and soon the tires were fixed and the medicine obtained. Later, I asked the boy to the house so I could thank him. I could tell he was uncomfortable about the whole matter, but his mother was so proud of him.

A funny thing happened after that—the boy became a friend and we had no more flat tires. Once again, I learned that being patient and kind brings the best results.

  • Marvin Kitchen is a member of the Pahoa Ward, Hilo Hawaii Stake.