Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

There was a time, some years ago, that we bought a car from our neighbors. He was over 80, and she was close to it, and they were moving to an assisted living, so we bought their 14 year old Grand Marquis. It had something like 40, 000 miles on it, and had literally been driven only to church on Sundays and to get Inez' hair done on Mondays. A beautiful piece of machinery it was, although I called it the aircraft carrier. Heck, I often said I could have fit six dead bodies in that trunk. It was huge.

One day shortly after we bought it, Dan had a flat. He didn't have time to go get it fixed, so he was riding along on the spare for a few days. For some reason, I had to drive him somewhere and drop him off, so we loaded up the kids and took off. I can't even remember why I drove him there, but there I was on the way back, on 465, going probably 70+ mph, when I heard a BAM, and then a horrible banging noise. Oh man.

I pulled over to the shoulder and got out to inspect the offending tire, and was shocked to see that the tire was still inflated, but that I could've literally peeled back about 18 inches of tread from the innertube. Weird. I've never seen anything like it, but the tire was as inflated as it was before it happened. I was faced with a strange dilemma, especially since the kids were with me. Seth was a baby, so Thomas and Jill were probably kindergarten and first grade. I wasn't near an exit and was not really in the mood to haul the kids down the shoulder, then climb a fence into a total stranger's backyard to see if I could use their phone -- and who would I call, because Dan was incommunicado? We were too broke at the time for AAA, so the options were rather limited.

I sat there and mulled over my dilemma for a few minutes while the kids offered their own suggestions through the window, then decided to go for it and just drive home. The problem was that I didn't want to drive it too fast, because every time that tread came around, it would BANG onto the wheel well really hard, making a horrible racket and, I feared, putting me at more risk of a flat, on the side of the interstate, with three kids, on a warm summer night. I decided I'd just stay in the shoulder, which was working fine till I came up on someone who was changing their tire in my lane. Had to sit there and wait till the traffic cleared, then I passed them very slowly, while they stared at the crazy lady with the banging tire.

Right about then, Thomas said "boy oh boy would Dad be mad if he was here." Pretty soon he said "this reminds me of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which resulted in all of us singing a rousing rendition at the top of our lungs, while still in the emergency lane going roughly twelve miles an hour. With the tire still banging every time it rotated. Oye and vay. This was our situation when I saw the red flashing lights. "Oh great," said Thomas. "We're getting pulled over." "I got news for you, baby," said the mother. "We ARE over."

The cop rolled up next to us, rolled down his window, and asked if we were ok. I explained what was going on, all while still rolling slowly down the road, and told the officer that I was just trying to get to the exit -- we were close now -- and then would call someone from the service station to come pick us up. He must've felt pretty good that we were ok, because he took off, and I went to the exit, drove up to the service station and, when I realized that the tire was still perfectly fine (except the huge piece of tread hanging off of it), I decided to drive the remaining couple of miles home. And yeah, I'll be darned, we made it. With the tire still inflated.

Crazy, I know, but then Dan got home. More about that tomorrow.

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