Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Not everyone needs to know how to change a tire

So this last weekend was UPS Homecoming weekend. As I mentioned before, I have been both excited and apprehensive about this trip. Turns out both feelings were valid…

Paige and I got on the road Thursday about 12:30pm and chit-chatted our way through Montana and Idaho. Soon enough we’re cruising through Spokane and excited to have 3 hours of the 8 hour trip under our belts. All of a sudden we’re being pulled over. FANTASTIC. Now, we’re driving in the left hand lane and we have JUST seen a motorcycle cop pull someone over on the left side of the freeway. Paige has never been pulled over on the freeway so she just starts easing over to the left-hand shoulder. The officer pulls up beside us and starts motioning violently for us to pull over onto the right shoulder. Fine.

Since I’m in the passenger seat and he approaches us from my side, I try to put on a happy face and be all cute and charming. He’s not having it. Ginger-haired Officer Spencer, who approached us in an overly tight uniform, complete with Lieutenant Dangle moustache and Oakley sunglasses, was rude from moment one.

Officer Spencer: “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

Paige: “Well, no…”

OS: “I clocked you going 71 in a 60. Is there a reason you felt the need to go that fast?”

P: “Well, the speed limit is 75 in Montana and I…”

OS: “Well we’re not in Montana anymore, are we? No. Licence and registration please.”

Pause while he goes to check us out and OBVIOUSLY write us a ticket. I take this time to mildly freak out and finish an entire bag of Chili Picante Corn Nuts I found in the glove box while frantically searching for proof of insurance. Then he’s back.

OS: “So, do you go by Paige?”

P: “Um, yes…”

OS: “Well, Paige, why did you feel it would be appropriate to pull over on the left side of the freeway?”

P: “Well I’ve never been pulled over and we had just seen -”

OS: “Stop. What did you learn in traffic school? Left or right?”

P: “Well it’s been 13 years…”

OS: “Left or right, Paige? LEFT OR RIGHT?!”

P: “Right! Right! I’m supposed to pull off to the right!”

OS: “Good. I didn’t cite you for it THIS TIME but it’s definitely a warning. Did you know 25 Spokane police officers died last year? Two drowned, one was shot and 22 were KILLED on the side of the freeway because someone pulled off on the left. Do you think I want to be hit by a car and die? No, I do not.”

P: “Alright, if anyone ever asks me to pull off to the left, I’ll tell them Officer Spencer from Spokane told me not to.”

OS: “Exactly. Now where are you headed?”

P: “Seattle… do you think you could help us merge back onto the freeway?”

OS: “No. Good luck.”

ARE YOU JOKING?? Heads back to the car while I’m literally stress-licking chili picante off my palms and leaves us on the side of I-90 to merge into speeding traffic on our own. IN A PRIUS.

Finally, with a little teamwork, we get back on the road and immediately start reliving the INSANE encounter we just had with Spokane’s finest. All of a sudden I hear a weird thrumming noise.

Lizzie: “What is that noise?”

Paige: “What noise?”

L: “The weird thrumming. It sounds like a motorcycle but I don’t see one.”

P: “Oh, it’s nothing. The Prius is just a big spaceship.”

L: “Okay but that’s really -”


P: “ OH MY GOD! What is going on?!”

L: “It’s the tire, it’s the tire!”

I lean over to her while the car weaves all over the left lane of I-90 West.

L: “You’re doing great! You’re doing great!” (literally petting her hair at this point) “Just get to the side of the road.”

P: “But I’m not supposed to pull over on the left hand side of the road!!”

L: “Just do it! It’ll be fine!”

So Paige masterfully pulls her spaceship over to the left hand side and we both start freaking out. We are BARELY off the road and semi-trucks are whizzing by at amazing speeds. We have just been verbally bitch slapped by Officer Spencer for pulling off on the left and warned about all the people who die because they do it. I get so nervous that I climb into the back seat so I’m not on the right hand side of the car. Wouldn’t have mattered in the end, but it made me feel better. And I was out of Corn Nuts…

So Paige calls 911, I call AAA and soon enough we’re pulled off into the center median and a nice man from AAA is putting the little doughnut tire on the car. At the same time we’re being berated by various sources (Justin, Kim, State Troopers, a random good Samaritan) for not knowing how to change our own tire.

1. Situations like this are WHY I have AAA. Please.

2. Even if I DID know how to change my own tire, I wasn’t about to get out of the car on I-90 to take care of it. Even when we were pulled off safely, you never know what might happen. An errant drunk driver could come flying off the road and POOF! You’re road kill. STAY IN THE CAR PEOPLE. I even tried to stay in the car while the AAA guy was jacking it up. Paige just looked at me all judgmentally and said she doubted if he needed an extra 160 pounds to lift. Fine. So I hid on the other side of the car just in case.

So, two and half hours, one $113 ticket and two brand new rear tires later, we’re back on the road. Turns out something punctured the tire when Officer Spencer pulled us over. You can guarantee OS will be getting a hefty bill for our troubles…

We tried to get a flight from the Spokane airport so we could go drown our anxiety at an airport bar but no luck. All sold out. 5 tense hours down the road we finally see the lights of Seattle and are ready to start our Homecoming weekend. But that’s a story for later… just writing about this has stressed me out again. That, and that fact that Paige just called to remind me that the Jetta has a tire that’s low. And no, I won’t be changing it myself...


Alyson said...

This is my #1 fear while driving!! At least you were in a populated area. What would happen if you were in the middle of Idaho? Does AAA come all the way out there??? Also, I don't even know where my spare tire is located. And I don't want to know.

Justin Singleterry said...

Listen people...the girls did pretty good on this one. A blow out is a rare and dangerous thing, so good job PaigeyPoo. I would like to say though that everyone should know how to change a tire. AAA is not always going to be there for you. Dont count on your cell phone to always get you out of trouble. There have been people freeze to death on the side of the road because of bad preperation. Imagine being stuck with a simple flat tire on an icy road, out of cell range in January, in Western Montana. Every motorist should be able to get out of this situation. You should always check your spare tire before any long road trip, and make sure all tools are present. You should also have a first aid kit with supplies in there to help out with a bad car accident. You should also have a simple survival kit that includes, a blanket,flashlight, matches, road triangles, water, snack food, etc. People have gotten into bad situations that they never thought could happen, so always be prepared. And if all else fails.....just call AAA.

Alyson said...

Good call Justin. Perhaps you would like to teach me to change a tire?? No sense in freezing in the wilderness because of a flat tire.

Elissa said...

Justin - This is why people from Montana always have a sleeping bag in the back of their car...or at least that's what Dawson told me when I asked about the sleeping bag in his car...wait, should I be worried?

Anonymous said...

The police have a difficult job. A little more respect is in order. Also, while learning to change a tire, I also recommend learning to dress (as in eviscerate and butcher) wild game, chew the hide into soft leather, and eat from the forest fauna and flora. Alternatively, Jackson could sled you out. Finally, just call Justin! A. Grove

jgraziani said...

Hey I'm glad you weren't hurt during the blowout. Thanks for the kind words about AAA. It's always good to hear about members' experiences on the road. And yes, Alyson, AAA is in Idaho too. :)