Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tires (or the lack there of)

It is funny how all the puzzle pieces seem to fit so nicely together in retrospect. Or, as is often said, hindsight is 20/20.

Oh, well. Better luck next time, I suppose.

Shall I tell you about the escapades of Tuesday evening? Yes, I suppose I shall. Since this is my blog and, hypothetically (supposing anyone actually reads this besides myself), you are my readers.

Let's see. It started with me leaving just a bit early to go to a yarn shop in Newport. About twenty minutes early. I started to back out of my driveway and there was a funny *pop* and puff of smoke but I assumed, as I often do, that it was just me being a tad over enthusiastic shifting into reverse. Even at that moment I did consider stopping to check my tires, but I wasn't too worried about it.

As I headed in the direction of the freeway I did notice something was slightly off. Not very noticeably, but - I was noticing. A little farther along I pulled over and, sure enough, my back left tire was riding slightly soggy. I actually thought if anything had been wrong it would have been with the back right tire (as it has some funky bubbles), but apparently not so.

So, here's the thing. I've not got very much experience with flat tires, but I've got a fair amount of experience with soggy tires. My lovely little car has low profile tires that ride fairly thin even when they're full. While I was out and about in Utah I frequently had to have my tires refilled with air as they were soggy off and on. We never came to a good conclusion as to why that was happening, but the frequent trips to the car shops and the advice that low profile tires were to some extent made equipped to handle some sogginess ended up making me sort of indifferent to the sogginess of my tires.

And that's precisely how I approached my soggy tires this go around. Not a good thing.

I remained fairly alert to the sound of any unevenness in the driving and noted that there wasn't much to be heard the first thirty minutes or so into the drive. It was just as I was getting onto a busier stretch of freeway that I first noticed something substantially wrong. Unevenness (rather suddenly) in the driving, and lots of bumpiness. Not alerts, alarms, flashing lights or any of that. In my mind = meh...I'll be fine.

Not a good indifference.

As I continued on, the bumpiness became steadily worse and began to hear something funny in the way the tire sounded. As if part of it was hitting something else. I mean, come on! What else can that mean but that a part of the tire is coming off?! But in my inexperienced and indifferent mind I thought, "I'm almost to Brandon's. Only about ten or fifteen minutes further tops. I'll be fine."

Really, I'm freaking out at this point. I know there is something wrong, but I've no idea what and I know that there will be help if I just get a bit farther. Just keep going. Just a few more miles. Idiot. I should have pulled over as soon as I noticed any unevenness. Really, I shouldn't have ever gotten on the freeway.

And thus we see some of the consequences of living an easy and rather painless life. Where as any other person who has dealt with a gradual flattening of a tire like that would have easily connected the dots, I, in my naivete and lack of experience, did not. Or at the very least didn't want to admit the likelihood that my semi-worst fears were a reality. I just wanted to get from point A to point B. Come now, that doesn't seem so difficult does it?

On I went with a very unhappy car. All the way across the bridge and into Kentucky. And that's right about when my unhappy tire became no longer my unhappy tire. I actually saw it come off. I was in the middle lane (out of three...maybe four) and had just felt a very different shift in the unhappiness of my vehicle and finally admitted to my mind that I needed to pull over. So on went the left blinker, on when the hazards, and off the road into the middle median I went. Thank goodness I have a fairly narrow car. I suppose I probably should have gone off to the right, but I knew that any issue I was having was with the left tire and if I needed to change it, I wanted to do it as far away from the busy traffic as I could. Just as I was blinking into the far left lane I saw my tire come off and I pulled over about twenty feet from where my tire landed. The tire was actually originally a bit into the left lane but it got budged by a passing car all the way over to the median.

I can't explain the shock I felt at this point. Even though all of these blatantly obvious details had been staring me in the face, I just couldn't believe that what had happened had in fact happened.

First phone call: Brandon. "Help! My wheel's just fallen off! It's gone! Lying twenty feet back! I don't know what to do! I'm going to call AAA but will you come and get me?!"

(Note: When in a vehicular bind, I seem unable to properly distinguish between wheels and tires. I know which is which. But if I'm at all flustered or stressed (or both) and the subject matter revolves a certain vehicle or two, I'm likely to not properly distinguish between those two. As noted in the above plea for help.)

It took me three phone calls to AAA to finally make a service call. Three. The first two dropped as I tried to juggle the operators at AAA with other phone calls I was trying to take/make. The third one worked.

It was about this time that Brandon arrived in his car and parked it on the opposite side of the median from mine (our cars facing different directions, his North, mine South). It seems appropriate to mention that I couldn't have picked a much more awkward location to stop. I was past the bridge and past the exit just after the bridge, but before the on ramp. So the only way to come from the south and turn around to be on the same side was to go all the way in to Cincinnati on the other side of the bridge. Which isn't impossible, but is a bit mad. As to why Brandon parked on the other side of the median. I should also mention that this was perhaps one of the busiest traffic times for I-471 South. 5:30 to 7:30ish. Fast heavy traffic heading south. Whipping by my little car. In the dark. Slightly raining. Misting really.

So, Brandon arrives. I hop over the median and sit in the backseat behind him in the drivers seat (both of us as far from the racing traffic as we can be). I'm not really sure why I had Brandon come wait with me. I think I originally thought I'd need to be picked up. But I couldn't very well go anywhere until AAA got there. But I have to admit it was extraordinarily helpful to have him there to calm my racing nerves.

In my description of the problem to the AAA person I was dealing with I may or may not have once again been off when choosing to use the word tire or wheel. I'm fairly certain I gave the impression that I no longer had a back left wheel. As to why they sent a tow truck. We waited for about forty minutes for the tow truck to finally arrive and upon arrival our Mr. AAA was very helpful in fully inflating my spare tire and putting on my car. The latter part of which I've done before and probably could have done an hour earlier (if I'd had any idea what I was dealing with).

It was only a matter of moments after which I jumped back in my car and zoomed off to Brandon's. I should also note (I suppose) that the plan had been to visit the Festival of Lights at the zoo (a plan which has been postponed). We'd originally planned on that for Monday night. I'm excessively grateful to not have had this experience on Monday when it was raining buckets but instead have had this experience when it was simply misting.

Since our time had now been consumed sitting in the car chatting, we devoted ourselves instead to our homework. What that really meant was that we made a pizza, watching videos on wimp and then watched Princess Mononoke and then belatedly turned our attention to our homework.

Oh! And I almost forgot. I'd noticed some odd behavior on Brandon's part. Mysteriously going to check on something in his trunk while we were waiting. Parking in a different place than usual at his apartment and running in without waiting for me (I was still at my car even though I'd arrived back a bit earlier but I'd dumped out an entire set of dominoes and was attempting to chase them all down and put them away). Not typical behavior. And what was the meaning of it all? A cake. Not just any cake, but an ice cream cake with lovely letters curling on the top that read "Happy Birthday Geneva". It isn't every day that I get to eat an ice cream birthday cake especially for me almost a month after my birthday.


The drive home was rather painful. I tend to go about five over the speed limit at all times. With the spare I was instructed to keep it around 50 mph or below. Thank goodness for cruise control. I don't think I could have done it other wise. Sooooo slow. Those poor cars around me. Only once when taking the ramp from one freeway to another did a ca get stuck behind me. It was so frustrating! I was determined to maintain my speed, but I couldn't have changed lanes faster when I was finally able to.

Anyway, it was fantastic evening. My nervous/anxious/stressed energy in the car, once no longer stressed, bubbled up as pure energy a little later. Adrenaline let loose.

Firsts for the evening:
-Watching my tire come off my wheel.
-Parking (with a charming and attractive boy!) (in public!) in the middle median of a freeway.
-Climbing over the median (awesome.).
-Watching Princess Mononoke.
-Eating Birthday Ice Cream Cake almost a month belated.
-Maintained a speed 5 to 15 below the speed limit for over an hour.


  1. How funny! This your first time seeing Princess Mononoke?

  2. Yes, somehow I missed seeing it at any point before. I'd heard of it, but that was just about it.