The adventures of the flat-tire fluke

By Jillian Milam
April 6, 2006

It was a sunny yet windy day on a Monday morning. The sun was glaring off of the freshly snow-coated trees while the cars on the Pennsylvania Turnpike became freshly salt-coated from the roads. Everyone was bundled up in their cars, full-blasting the heat in an attempt to thaw out their cold-nipped fingers hugging the steering wheel. The breath of the toll keepers floated through the air as they took change from the highway drivers.

What seemed to be a normal day turned out to be an ordeal that ended up being a weeklong headache that consumed my time, money, and at some points, my sanity. By saying that I had the “Monday blues” would be an understatement.

After passing through the newly built EZ Pass Express Lane at the toll, trucks and cars alike were zooming in their lanes, approaching the Blue Route, also known as I476.

I, somehow, became engulfed by semi-trucks, creating a Chevy Cavalier sandwich. I was in the far-left lane with a truck in front of me, beside me and behind me. My knuckles embraced my steering wheel tighter and tighter as I tried to drive straight through the snow that was flying off of the trucks’ roofs. After about three minutes of driving through what appeared to be a blizzard in front of me, my heart race decreased as the snow cleared and I could see pavement once again.

It was smooth sailing for about thirty seconds after the three-minute blizzard, until I noticed the truck beside me moving into my lane. Next thing I know, the truck that was once next to me was directly in front of me. He scooted right in front of me in the left lane, causing me to slam on my breaks. I took a quick look into the lane to the right of me, looking for a reason as to why the truck driver felt the need to leave his lane and cut in front of me.

To my surprise, I saw all forms of debris flying in every which way. The chunk of debris that really scared me; however, was the one flying right in my direction.

“Wham! Ka-thud!” In a matter of two seconds, I ran over a large, black chunk of something, and that something created an immediate feeling that my car was damaged.

A few seconds later, I closed my wide-open jaw and tried to put my eyes back in their sockets. I gathered my thoughts, surprised that my car was able to run right over the large piece of something without losing control. The Cavalier is a trooper.

Knowing that something was seriously wrong with my car but not knowing exactly what it was, I decided that there was no safe spot to pull over on the Blue Route and that I would finish driving to my destination about eight minutes away.

I parked my car and nervously stepped outside to check out the trooper and noticed that I had one very flat tire. I immediately called the closest Chevy dealership to make an appointment.

Two days later, I made arrangements to have a ride to the Chevy dealership and my trooper towed.

“Sorry, we don’t have the right kind of tires in stock,” the dealership told me. “I was pretty sure that’s why I made the appointment two days ago,” I said. Instead, they offered to look at the car and put on my spare tire, for only $70! I agreed, only to get out of the place as soon as possible. An hour later, the mechanic took me in to show me the damage, literally.

Whatever it was I hit, it was large and heavy enough to seriously damage the majority of the metal underneath my car. In addition, it put a hole the size of a man’s fist in my back tire and left a large piece of plastic that served as my car’s filter completely torn off. Luckily, the metal that was damaged is considered cosmetic and is livable with dents.

Unfortunately, nobody else experienced a flat tire from the debris that windy Monday. After a phone call to PennDot, I realized there was would be no compensation for my repairs. “What do you want me to do about it?” the receptionist said.

The week this occurred was a rough one, but it was rougher for the trooper. After a little surgery and a little clean up, the Cavalier is back to new and ready for the road.

Posted to the web by Tim Hague

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Jillian Milam

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