Fifth Wheel

Instead of a funny story or anecdote, I am going to tell you what happened to me today between the hours of 2 and 7 PM.

I was driving back from Umatilla when one of my front tires popped like a balloon. Of course, I’ve been meaning to learn how to change a flat ever since I was 15, but haven’t quite gotten around to it. Plus, I was off the side of Highway 84, which isn’t a great place to learn, especially if you’re teaching yourself.

So I called AAA, and I’m amazed they didn’t greet me by name, considering how often I’ve been calling them recently. They asked me where I was so they could figure out where to send the tow truck. I had no idea. I told them I was definitely somewhere between Boardman and Arlington. They informed me this was a distance of 25 miles, which is not particularly helpful. They said the tow truck would be there in 30 to 40 minutes.

Then an incredibly young and incredibly sweet state trooper stopped by to make sure I was okay. I told him a tow truck was on the way, but I didn’t know where I was. Rather than look at me funny, he told me exactly which exits I was between. I resisted the urge to kiss him and instead called AAA back.

I sat in the car on the shoulder and waited. I watched in the rearview mirror as trucks came around the corner behind me and tried to give my car some space when they passed. I almost freaked out when an “oversize load” (A HOUSE ON A FLATBED TRUCK) came around the corner. Luckily, there wasn’t anyone in the left lane, so the house truck could move over. At this point, I got out of the car, stepped over the rail and walked around on the hillside for a while. I called Galen and asked him to tell me about the Seahawks game so I had something else to think about.

The tow truck came and the driver had most of his teeth. He also brought his wife along, which I found rather amusing, (because I was a little delirious and) because I was feeling a little vulnerable as a lady all by myself and wishing I had a buddy… and then he brought his wife. He asked where my spare was and then got really pissed off that there was stuff in my trunk on top of the spare. (The rather funny part is that I had already moved most of the big stuff into the back seat so it wouldn’t be too bad). I mean, really, who puts shit in their trunk?

He got the spare out and informed me it was flat.

He tried to inflate the spare, but the little valve thing (technical term) was broken. He had to tow me to the nearest town (ten miles) to get a part to fix the little valve thing. On the way, he explained to me that I can call a junkyard and buy a spare tire that isn’t flat for $25. His wife started smoking a cigarette in the truck and he asked her if it was “one of the ones she found.”

We got to town. He got the part, fixed the spare, put it on the back tire and put the good back tire on the front. (While he’s doing this, his wife very sweetly offers to get me something from the gas station across the street. I didn’t know if they sold liquor, so I said no thanks). The guy told me the old tire was shot, then threw it in my trunk. I asked him if I could drive all the way back to Portland on the spare and he said it would be totally fine – I shouldn’t think about it. Which, of course, made me think about it the entire 140 miles back to Portland, while I drove ten miles UNDER the speed limit.


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Filed under I am not making this up., Travel

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