Sunday, September 27, 2009

Newspaper column

It wasn’t until I saw small objects flying out from underneath my car in the rearview mirror that I knew something was seriously wrong.

Until then, I had considered ignoring the loud buzzing sound that had developed suddenly while trying to make it another 10 miles or so to work. I was traveling at a high rate of speed on the interstate and hoped maybe it was a fluke that would correct itself if I was patient.

But when the floor under my feet started vibrating and the smell of burned rubber wafted through the interior, I knew it was time to pull over.

Even though it was mid-afternoon, sitting alone on the side of the highway with an undrivable car was a little scary. I had read too many stories about people in my exact situation who get hit by a passing car to feel comfortable — no matter how far onto the grass I pulled.

I reluctantly climbed over the center console and exited through the passenger door to find shredded rubber where one of my rear tires used to be.

I called my husband, Jerry, for help, but in the meantime, I tried to summon my long-buried driver’s ed knowledge while attempting to dig the spare out of the trunk.

The activity of jacking up the car kept me from worrying too much, but I couldn’t help but feel a little surprised that no one had stopped to offer help.

Not that I was exactly a damsel in distress, but I would want someone to help a friend if she found herself in a similar situation.

Just as I was wrongly starting to take out my frustration on humanity, four vehicles pulled up — a tractor-trailer driver who left after he saw I had help, a D&E Com­munications employee who said he would’ve arrived sooner if there had been a closer spot to turn around, my husband and a couple in a pickup who wanted to make sure I was comfortable with the men who had stopped to assist.

I could’ve hugged all of them.

Instead, I just shouted my thanks over the wooshing of the passing traffic and waved as they carefully maneuvered back onto the highway.

As it turns out, I was supposed to loosen the lug nuts before I raised the car, but Jerry simply lowered it back down and started over. In what seemed like no time at all, he was finished and handed me the keys to our other car so he could drive the damaged vehicle to a mechanic.

The entire incident left me feeling oddly in good spirits. Despite the fact that I was late to work, likely had a few hundred dollars worth of tires to purchase and dirt all over my pants, I was bouyed by the fact that so many people cared enough to see if a stranger was all right.

That’s the kind of thing that makes a bad situation tolerable.

It will also drive me to pay it forward.


the_plainsman said...

Yes, ignore that "buzzing" sound and a little vibration as it might go away if we drive a little faster to our destination! Haven't we all done that one time or another? Oh, that was the transaxle that comitted hari-kari all over the Intersate, officer? I thought the tire just picked up a pebble.

Funny how human nature tends to make us ignore or disbelieve the warning sings of something amiss...LOL!

Glad it worked out and you were safe. Many good people around, including the ones who stoped to make sure the primary responders were OK. Have to remember that one!

Jason said...

I'm glad everything turned out ok!

Also, if you don't have it, make sure you get AAA, it will be worth the membership fee the first time you use it!

Heidi said...

My friend's car conked out once on the interstate. We ended up pushing it to try and reach the exit a few miles away. No less than two tractor trailers and two cars stopped to offer help - one driver thought we ran out of gas and offered what he had in his tank, and a trucker hopped out of his cab, grabbed some gloves, and offered to help us push for awhile! It was quite the adventure and certainly warmed my heart. Such generosity is always inspiring.

Nina's Mama said...

I'm just so glad you are okay!!

Epros said...

My tire tread came completely off while I was on a three-hour trip to my mom's this summer, and I sat on the side of the road with my yields on for about an hour and a half. No one stopped to help or anything, and I ended up braving it and having to drive another twenty miles on a tire that barely got me to my location before a friend could put my spare on. I then spent the next 30 miles to my mom's driving 50 on a spare, yields still on, down a highway with a speed limit of 65. People still felt the need to honk and flip me off, which kind of made me hate the world a little.

I'm glad someone stopped to help you. It gives me a little bit of hope that not all people are like the ones on the highway the day I got stranded.

Kristin said...

I love it when people give you reason to have faith in humanity(: It's always a nice feeling.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad everything worked out ok! It's amazing how positive encounters can so quickly turn around one's spirits -- and vice versa. It may be overkill, but I've found a good combination is AAA plus the equiv. service through our auto insurer. That way, if AAA doesn't show up and sometimes they can't find you or just don't show, you've got a back up -- thru the insurer is pretty cheap ... for State Farm, less than $20 per year. You can also get "help" signs that you can put in the back window in case of emergency. But hope you never need any ever again! Good for you for knowing how to change a tire ... I have no idea (witness the reason for all the back-up solutions). Teme

Anonymous said...

You haven't posted in a while so I hope all is well.

the_plainsman said...

Thought so too. Perhaps that "little congestion" referenced at the right was not so little after all. If that's the case hope you feel better soon!