Many Americans spent New Year’s Eve drinking and partying. I spent it prepping for a road trip to Massachusetts. And what a road trip!
I hit the road at about 7 30a on New Year’s Day. At first all was well, and I blared techno as I sped on down the highway. Things were great until I crossed the Massachusetts border, when I heard a metal-on-metal sound and started getting weird resistance from the wheels. I immediately pulled off the road at the welcome station to check it out. Nothing looked visibly wrong – no flats or anything – but I wasn’t really comfortable with the situation. And my greatest skill as a mechanic is picking up the phone and calling a specialist. So I went inside and asked about nearby mechanics. With it being a holiday and a Sunday – not to mention being in the middle of nothing much – there was nothing.
There I was in a strange state with a dying car and no acceptable options. Turning around at that point seemed useless and reckless. Stopping wasn’t really an option either, considering the nothing-around-here position. So pressing on seemed the best course. I hoped the car would not explode long enough to get me to my hotel, and then I could get it to a mechanic first thing Monday morning. I’d just drive more slowly.
Off again I went. I gradually started to relax, as my gauges were all ok and nothing seemed to be getting any worse. Until I was a mere 15 miles from my exit.
I topped a hill, started going down the other side, and the wheels came off. Literally. My rear driver’s side tire just flew off my car. As the rear corner of my car dropped with a thump on the highway (I was going 60ish) I watched my tire rolling and bouncing down the road.
This is where the miracles began. I got off the road onto the shoulder, and no one hit me. The other cars on the road all somehow dodged or were missed by my wildly careening wheel, which kept rolling down the hill until I couldn’t see it anymore. No one died – WIN!
I pulled out my cell and immediately called AAA for a rescue. My membership was a Christmas present, and it was so new that I didn’t even have a number yet. That was as adventure! Anyway, as I hung up a Good Samaritan pulled over to make sure I was ok and advise me to get more off the road if possible. I assured him I had help coming, thanked him for his inquiry, and he drove off.
And then I waited. And waited. Dispatch for AAA had a hard time finding me – which was just stupid, as I gave them my location with a GPS. Four times. Again, even with no one being able to see me as they topped the hill I still wasn’t hit!
The waiting worked out ok, though, as about 45 minutes after I pulled over the Good Samaritan came back – with my wheel!!! He spotted it finally resting about a mile down the road, grabbed it, and brought it back to me. It took him so long because he ran out of gas on the way, had to walk to get enough gas to get to the service station, then fill up his truck, then continue back. Remember this was on a highway – he had to get off 2 exits ahead of me, come back around on the other side of the highway, get off 1 exit behind me, and then finally get back to where I was stranded. This was a production, and this wonderful man did it anyway.
Not only did he return my not-even-damaged tire, he gave me his phone number in case I had any other issues while in Massachusetts. Who does that? And his name? Michael.
I thought the name was significant.
Not five minutes after Michael left the AAA guy showed up. The problem with the car was that all four lug nuts holding the wheel on had come off – it wasn’t a mechanics issue at all. Since I now had the tire I was even able to avoid a tow – the AAA guy just reattached the wheel. I was on the road not even 5 minutes after the guy finally showed up.
After all that I was only 20 minutes late for my appointment (which was fine, since the person I was meeting was late too!), saw a mechanic the next day to check everything over, and was done with the whole thing for $20 and a few hours of my time.
I could have been seriously injured when the wheel popped off. The wheel could have injured any number of other people on the road as it hurtled down the road. I could have been hit by any of the dozens of speeding cars topping the hill who couldn’t see me in the shoulder until they were too close to me to stop. It could have cost me a fortune to fix the problem. None of that happened.
It COULD be coincidence that nothing awful happened. Maybe. I don’t think so, though.
Thank you to both Michaels – the man and the angel – for watching over me.