I blew out a tire at about 8:25 this morning, heading Eastbound across the I-90 bridge. I limped to the West Mercer exit, pulled over onto the shoulder, and proceeded to swap on the spare. At about 8:35, no more than ten minutes into the incident, a WSDOT roadside assistance truck pulled up behind me, and good thing too, as my “donut” was low on air.
The WSDOT worker was helpful and friendly and prompt. From the driver’s perspective, it’s great to get this sort of “free” assistance, unasked for, but of course his real job is to get cars like mine off the freeway as quickly and safely as possible so as not to tie up traffic.
When conservatives complain about out-of-control government spending they are complaining about services like this. I suppose we could just leave fools like me to our own devices — I’d been meaning to replace my tires for months, and certainly didn’t deserve any free assistance — but that would merely inconvenience and endanger the rest of us when disabled vehicles snarl up traffic. Or, I suppose we could fine every stranded motorist to offset the costs, but that would transform the WSDOT roadside assistance worker from a smiling helping hand into a hated tax collector.
In the end, even though I didn’t really need the help — I’m handy enough to change my own tire, and my donut had enough air to get me to the nearest gas station — it is comforting to know that the help is there if I need it. And perhaps the folks at WSDOT might be comforted to know that on this particular morning they have at least one damn satisfied taxpayer.