BAM! BOOM! SCREEEECH!
I sat white-knuckling the steering wheel of my Toyota Camry, my heart racing, my arms shaking, and my mind trying to catch up with what had just happened. I quickly assembled the following facts:
- What looked like a piece of rubber tread in the road was actually a piece of metal.
- My front passenger side tire was most definitely useless.
- I was stranded on the shoulder of 635 with cars whizzing by me at 70mph+
As my car came to a stop on the side of the road, I heard another bang and glanced back to see another car come swerving onto the shoulder behind me. Black liquid oozed out from under its hood.
Crawling into the passenger seat, I slithered out the door. The pavement of the bridge under my feet shook from the weight of four lanes of traffic. My hair whipped around as cars whizzed by 5 feet from where I stood. I knelt to examine the damage. The tire would have to be changed. And I wasn’t quite sure that my spare was functional.
After checking on the lady in the car behind me, I climbed back into the passenger seat and pulled out my driver’s license. I had heard that one could call the highway patrol number on the back and get roadside assistance if on a Texas highway. When an automated voice began prompting me to take a survey, I hung up and called 911. Two of us taken out by debris in the road would be a convincing enough case to send someone out to assist, right? The worst that could happen is that I would be told, “Lady, fix your own flat tire.” Thankfully, the dispatcher took my information and said he would send someone out.
Twenty minutes later, I was still sitting on top of my pile of school books in my passenger seat feeling the car shake from the passage of fast cars right beside me. Finally, a highway patrol truck with flashing arrows pulled up behind us. My phone buzzed.
“We received your call,” the police officer said. “You told us you were on the eastbound side of 635, but apparently you’re on the west side. We got stuck in traffic and are on our way.” Offering a sincere apology, I climbed out and met the repairman. (No dumb blonde jokes, please!)
Since I had the easier repair, the man said that he would fix my tire first. Of course, when are things ever easy? Problems:
- Spare tire is bolted into my trunk. Backup must be called in.
- Backup has to bust holes in plastic bolt until it breaks so they can free the tire.
- Spare tire is flat.
The typical ten minute repair job took about an hour, but they got me back on the road. Besides a new tire and still needing to find a place that can weld the hole closed in my exhaust system, I came out all right.
As I was standing on the side of the road after the two repair trucks and police officer blocked off the lane of traffic closest to me, I couldn’t help but grin. The day was a lovely 60 degrees and sunny with baby clouds floating through the sky. I had lived through something I had always feared, but it actually wasn’t too bad after all.