On Blowouts

Add this to the list of things I would have been perfectly content to have never experienced in my life—a tire blowing out on the Baltimore Beltway at seventy miles per hour.

It was about 8:30. I was a little past the I-795 merge when I noticed several things.

One, the Beetle was rattling.

Two, my speed dropped.

Three, something smelled like it was burning.

Was I dragging something? I couldn’t tell. I turned the radio off, to get a better feel for the sounds of the Beetle.

A van pulled up beside me. The driver tried to flag my attention. I rolled down my window.

“You’ve blown a tire!” he shouted at me.

“Thanks!” I shouted back. And then I got the fuck off the road.

There’s a span along the inner loop of the Beltway where the shoulders are about two cars wide. Fortunately, that’s exactly where I was.

I got out of the car. The driver in the van, he’d pulled up to my passenger side when he flagged me down. I expected to see the passenger side rear tire blown. No, that one was fine.

It was the driver side tire that was gone.

And when I say gone, I mean gone. There was nothing left.

I popped the trunk, pulled out the spare tire (which in a Beetle is a full-sized tire, not one of those donut things), and set about changing the tire. I’m not sure why there were so many pennies there in the bottom of the boot around the tire—methinks I pocketed a good twenty-five cents.

So excited was I to use the jack that I stupidly lifted the Beetle off the ground without getting the rim of the blown tire off. I discovered very quickly that, no, it’s impossible to get lugnuts off when the tire’s not resting on the ground.

Then I couldn’t remember. Left or right? “Right-y, tight-y. Left-y, loose-y.” Yes, that worked.

All told it took ten minutes, but I got the spare put back on.

Blown tire. Wow.

And then I’d made an unfortunately discovery.

In changing the tire, I’d smashed my sunglasses. Why, oh why, hadn’t I left them in the passenger cabin? How could I have been so foolish?

So not only did I blow a tire, but I’d blown my sunglasses, too.

My sunglasses! My companion through many adventures! Gone. Snuffed out. Just like that.

What a way to start the day. :/

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