This morning started like every workday. I woke up, got dressed, then set out to greet the day with my usual vigor. I was driving along the freeway, the construction was underway and the traffic was cruising along. I have been noticing lately that the traffic is much heavier than it has ever been, so I took my place in the far left lane just as I normally do. My commute is thirty-six miles so this approach keeps me out of everyone’s way and them out of mine.
For the past couple of weeks, there has been something everyday to slow the traffic or stop it completely, but today, even though traffic was heavy, it was flowing. I was there in the left lane cruising at highway speed, the tunes playing, and ready to hit the job site.
I heard the familiar “ding” of the on-board alert and looked down at the dash. “Low tire pressure”. “Oh man,” I thought, then I looked at the four tire pressure indicator. 36, 36, 36 24, right rear tire, and it was flashing to beat the band. I knew instantly that I had to address this situation, so with all the stealth maneuvering of a seasoned NASCAR driver, I weaved my way to the right lane to exit at the soonest opportunity.
Looking down at the dash, I saw that the pressure indicator was now reading 19 PSI. I knew for sure that this was no ordinary low tire pressure situation. I pressed the button and engaged the hazard lights, moving a full ten MPH slower than the fast-moving traffic. I was wedged between two semi trucks, both carrying full loads and moving quick to meet their deadlines. Thankfully, one of them honked his horn and flashed his lights, indicating that it was now safe for me to move to the far right lane, which I did without hesitation.
I passed a sign and saw that it was three-quarters of a mile to the next exit. I hoped I could make it, but when I looked again at the dash, it read 10, then quickly dropped to zero. I was driving on a flat, if I could just nurse it up the on ramp, I can get to safety. Changing a tire in this construction zone, with the truck almost touching the concrete barrier on the shoulder and traffic zooming by a mere inches from me, would be dangerous and the impossible.
With tire pressure zero and the exit ramp approaching, I throttled her down to thirty miles per hour. Hobbling along on the flat rubber, I could hear the ca-lunk ca-lunk as the steel rim squeezed the tread to the pavement. Then, suddenly, a jerk and a new sound, bap-bap-bap, the tire was now off the rim. I was now within striking distance to the exit ramp and I knew I would make it off of the freeway and to safety, where I could change my tire and continue on to work.
Just then, the truck lost all power and forward movement, I nudged the gas, but nothing happened. I looked down at the dash and a message flashed in the dark cab of the truck: SERVICE ANTI-LOCK BRAKES. That’s it. Game over. I lost my last man right before I saved the princess. I need another coin to put into the machine, maybe the timer will still be counting down by the time I insert another quarter in the slot.
I crawled out from the passenger side door and jumped the concrete barrier, I wanted to be well-away from traffic, just in case. I didn’t know what to do. I decided that this was a hazardous situation, and who better to handle a hazardous situation than the state troopers. I took out my cell phone and dialed 911.
The trooper called to let me know he was on his way and called for a tow truck. When he arrived the tow truck driver put my truck on the flat bed and brought me to the dealership.
There were some challenges getting the truck off of the flatbed, but eventually, we prevailed. I took my lunch box out and sat on the concrete bench, eating my lunch while watching the drip, drip, drip of brake fluid coming from the severed brake line. I can smell its pungent odor as the gentle wind carries it toward me.
Funny, I’m not angry or upset, as the sun rises and greets me with a splash on my face. I’m happy and grateful for cell phones, tow trucks, and troopers, as I wait for the service department to open
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