Thar She Blows!

I am seriously bored today.

Days – no, weeks – of basically sitting around the house are beginning to drive me a little stir-crazy. I don’t quite feel like Jack Torrance just yet, but a few more days of this and I may be hitting up Lloyd The Bartender for “the hair of the dog that bit me” and plotting ways to get rid of Wendy.

No offense to my friend Wendy in Arizona.

Perhaps Fate, sensing my growing anxiousness over being cooped up, conspired to throw a little excitement my way last Thursday in the form of a blown tire on the freeway. There I was, just a-travelin’ merrily along, minding my own business when I heard a loud BANG. “What the hell?” I said out loud, wondering what I’d hit. The whole car actually shook a little, though I never saw anything in the road. Everything else appeared to be normal, so I kept tooling along, took my exit, merged onto a new thoroughfare, and continued driving for several miles. The first sign of trouble? A steady noise that sounded like a semi was passing me, only there was no semi in sight. It grew louder and louder, and the ride was suddenly bumpy.

Hmm, I thought. The transportation department really needs to do something about this rough stretch of road. 

I remained utterly clueless that anything out of the ordinary might be  affecting my car…up until the  moment smoke began pouring from beneath it. Still I continued to drive, hoping I could make it to my exit a mile away before pulling over to investigate the source of this automotive peculiarity, but suddenly chunks of rubber were flying all over the freeway and I realized that my tire – the front driver’s side – had not only blown out, but was now in the process of shredding itself to bits all over the highway. Now I pulled over to the side of the road as the enormity of the situation sank in. In my defense, this was my first flat tire in 26 years of driving, so I had no idea anything was amiss as I did not recognize the warning signs.

Note to self: smoke pouring from the undercarriage and flying chunks of rubber are one sure sign that your car is not behaving normally. 

My poor disintegrated tire.

I flicked on my hazards and immediately reached for my phone. Back in June, right before my road trip, I signed up for a year’s membership to AAA (the roadside assistance people, not the organization for drunks – three As people, not two!) – on the off chance that something might go wrong far from home. While I didn’t need it then, this turned out to be a Really Good Move that probably paid for itself on Thursday. Half an hour later a tow truck pulled behind me, its flashing amber lights comforting winks in the darkening sky. OK, it was 3:50 in the afternoon and the sun was shining brightly, but my sense of relief was very real. I had already dealt with a friendly cop and a Good Samaritan both offering assistance. The AAA guy, surveying the situation carefully – and nearly having his truck door torn off by a passing vehicle – decided it was much too risky to attempt changing the tire on the shoulder of a busy highway, especially with a steady stream of big rigs sailing by inches to our left, so he hooked the car up instead and loaded it onto the back of his truck, driving me into town and the nearest tire store, muttering the whole way about how scary this particular “rescue” had been. “What was your worst one ever?” I asked.

“This one,” he replied, deadly serious.

That actually made me feel better about not attempting to change the tire myself. I knew I’d hear all kinds of grief about that after the inevitable Facebook post, and sure enough, did have to contend with people questioning my manliness.

Especially my friend Wendy in Arizona.

And while I may have “pulled the surgery card,” as Wendy so blatantly accused me, ’tis true. It had been a mere ten days since I was so ruthlessly violated by a team of doctors who yanked out a vital organ and did countless other acts-that-shall-not-be-spoken-of to me while I was sedated. Shudder. I was still weak and under orders not to lift anything heavier than twenty pounds. I’m pretty sure jacking up an SUV and attempting to wrestle a spare tire on would cause more than 20 lbs.’ worth of exertion. Besides, why go to all that trouble with a AAA membership, anyway?

And what does it matter if Tara knows how to change a tire when I never have, Wendy?!?!

/Wendy rant.

Anyway, two hours later and I was back on my way, a new tire on my car thanks to the wonderful crew of Les Schwab. Total out of pocket cost for this whole incident? Not a penny. AAA covered the tow, and my tire was under warranty from road hazards since I’d just purchased a new set in June. Whew! Not the most fun way to spend an afternoon, but at least it wasn’t expensive.

Or boring. Maybe I should be careful what I wish for, after all…

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17 thoughts on “Thar She Blows!

  1. Tara says:

    See…even Wendy knows how badass I am.

    Glad you made it through such a harrowing experience, somewhat unscathed. You definitely deserved that Bloody Mary. 🙂

    Like

    1. Mark Petruska says:

      I should have had that Bloody Mary as soon as I got home, rather than waiting another two days! It was definitely harrowing, despite whatever Wendy might have thought. I think all those trips to the ice arena are getting to her.

      Like

  2. Steven Wolff says:

    Okay, I’m confused… The tow truck driver lost his door after he pulled over to help you or did he come with a door missing? That part sounds exciting. I had a blow out roughly 26 years ago and I will never forget that ever again. Thank goodness for AA! Err… I mean AAA! 🙂

    Like

  3. Steven Wolff says:

    Update: Sorry I just woke up… I just saw he “nearly” lost his door. My eyes aren’t focusing! I’m glad you were okay and you’re right, Mark – it’s not your place to change the tire, especially 10 days after surgery. It has nothing to do with you being a man, we know you are by the smiles on Tara’s face. 🙂

    Like

    1. Mark Petruska says:

      Aww…thanks, Steven! The AAA guy claims the door was ripped from his hands and nearly yanked off its hinges. I didn’t see this happen, as I was cowering inside my vehicle hoping I didn’t get nailed myself. Longest 30 minutes of my life!

      Like

  4. Kathryn McCullough says:

    Holy smokes–literally! This sounds so much like something I’d do, I don’t dare tell Sara about it. She’d just roll her eys and start in, “Yeah, like that time you . . . . ” I don’t want to hear it.
    Kathy

    Like

  5. Tracy says:

    I’ll tell you what’s scary, besides the fact of this blown tire. But, the fact that the tire blew in the first place. They weren’t very old to cause that big of a blowout.

    I remember driving home from work one day and a semi next to me had a tire blow out. The sound was deafening and I had to swerve to miss the pieces of tires. Considering how that particular scenario scared me, I can see why this was scary for you.

    And, I don’t blame you for not even attempting to change the tire. I personally would hate to see you back in the hospital!

    Like

  6. Ron says:

    YIKES, Mark, that tire looks as though a BOMB exploded in it!

    I don’t know how fast you were going when it happened, but thank god the car didn’t go out of control – whew!

    I’ve had a couple flat tires while driving myself, but luckily I was never on a freeway when it happened.

    And can you believe I NEVER had AAA? So I ended up having to change the tire myself (using the donut tire) until I could get to a gas station and have the tire repaired, and then replaced.

    “Total out of pocket cost for this whole incident? Not a penny. AAA covered the tow, and my tire was under warranty from road hazards since I’d just purchased a new set in June.”

    You GO, boy!

    And I’m so glad you’re safe and sound!

    Have a super week!

    Like

    1. Mark Petruska says:

      I’ve never had AAA up until six months ago, Ron, so in that regard my timing/luck were very good! It’s one of those things you hope you never need, like insurance – but when you DO need it, you’re glad you have it!

      Like

  7. Patti says:

    I love AAA – I get my money’s worth out of it every year – flat tires, dead batteries, keys locked in the car – a great bargain.

    I have had the same experience with flat tires. I drive along and wonder what the odd sound is outside my car – sounds like a helicopter – and man, my car is really not handling well….but my tires never looked quite so bad as yours by the time I pull over. And maybe being bored isn’t so bad after all.

    Like

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