I left work about 20 minutes early today. I had reached a natural stopping point in my workload, and I thought, What a lovely, productive Monday it’s been. Drew was waiting at home with sandwiches for dinner, and Erin was to be coming over later for some Game of Thrones. Wonderful.
As I drove home, I called my mom. I didn’t call her back yesterday, and I wanted to catch up and discuss coming home for a visit. While on the phone with her, I mentioned I was in the car and that it had been shaking just lately, and what did she think that was? She suggested something to do with bearings. I agreed.
I continued my drive home, which, for once, was relatively low-traffic. I was pretty happy. Mellow conversation with mom, and, like I said, the promise of sandwiches.
Suddenly, a large low sound from the rear left side of the car, and then insane thunking noises. I said, “Mom? I have to go. Um…I have to call you back,” and hung up while moving swiftly through three lanes of traffic and pulling off on the very soft shoulder.
A tire blowout! That explains a) the shaking, and possibly b) the random noise that Jonathan and I heard last Friday while we were driving around doing work errands. We checked all four tires and couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary, so we finally decided that something had fallen out of the sky (or from an overpass) and that was the noise.
But now it appeared that it was a tire problem even then. And I really didn’t drive the car at all since Friday afternoon, which I guess is lucky.
Drew came and changed the tire – but when we got in our cars to leave, he found that his battery was dead! I backed up my car level with his to give him a jump.
As I backed up, I ran over a sprinkler pipe sticking out of the ground, and it made the most godawful scraping sound. I pulled forward again – cue second scraping sound. Jeez louise.
We hooked up the jumper cables and did our best to get his engine to start, but no dice. He called his dad – who knows everything about cars – to ask for advice, but there was really nothing he could tell us over the phone. So then we both sat in my car and waited for his dad to show up.
“On my 280 commute, there’s always at least one car pulled over with its hazards on,” I said. “And every time I see that car, I’m thankful it’s not me. But I guess sometimes you have to take one for the team.”
“Yeah,” Drew said, “but if this is the worst thing that happens to us, then that’s pretty good.”
Luckily, I was very close to home when my tire blew.
When Drew’s dad showed up, he somehow managed to find the sprinkler head in the dirt behind my car, even though it was pitch black out there and practically in the bushes. “Just leave it,” I said, and he laughed at me.
He hooked up Drew’s battery to a magic portable battery and got the car started in seconds. Then we packed away everything and all three pulled onto the freeway to head for home.
On the way, we passed a car on the side of the road, with its hazards on. A minute later I got a frantic call asking, “That wasn’t you, was it??” But I was practically home, safe on my sturdy little spare tire.
So I guess tomorrow I’m making a pre-work Firestone run. And I guess I’m forking over the money for a new tire. And I feel grateful that the shaking mystery is solved. And that all three of us got off the pitch black side of the freeway safely.
What I learned: The best thing to do in an emergency is remain calm. I should probably just change my own tire, rather than making someone come all the way out and drain his battery to do it for me. And stuff probably doesn’t fall out of the sky to cause weird noises with your car.