I’d never had a flat tire before. Definitely never had a flat tire on the freeway. I did this morning and it was more than slightly scary.
I was driving down the 210 to work, in the left lane as always, listening to 98.7 as always, stressing out about the work presentation I had later in the morning, when I heard a duh, duh, duh, dud noise and my steering wheel started to move in my hands a little more than usual. I instantly became very aware of what was going on and turned off the radio. I opened my window and heard the thud and my heart sunk.
Oh crap, I’m driving really fast on the freeway and my tire is flat.
I didn’t panic. I indicated (signalled) and pulled over to the right hand side of the freeway and tried to find a place to stop that was safe. There weren’t any. The side of the freeway was about the width of my car. How on earth was anyone going to be able to help me change the tire if there was no space?
Freeways in LA are either really slow and jammed with traffic or really fast. This one is generally very fast and cars and big-rigs were whizzing past my tiny car with the hazard lights on. My heart was racing as I was absolutely certain that I was going to be hit by a truck and die. I didn’t want to do the presentation later in the morning but death was overkill. C’mon.
I sat in my car and immediately called AAA. They were really nice and because I was on the freeway they put my call on a rush. The only problem – the assistance wouldn’t be there until possibly 20 minutes later. Again, I was convinced I was going to be hit by a truck so I started to panic. Just a little. Only slightly. Panic all the same.
No more than five minutes after I pulled over, a truck stopped behind me. I thought it was AAA so I was relieved. The guy jumped out of his truck and came over to my right side and asked if everything was ok. I said that I had a front driver side flat tire. He told me to call AAA and cancel the call because he would help me fix it. I looked at his uniform – he was part of the Metro Freeway Service Patrol. He was awesome. He must have sensed I was nervous so he told me very calmly to drive forward past the next exit where there was more space for him to change the tire. I asked him if my wheel was going to fall off – he didn’t laugh at me.
As I drove about 50 meters or so up the freeway, he drove behind me. Is it bad that I was glad he was a blocker in case a truck came? Him being there made me confident that I wasn’t going to get driven into from behind. We pulled up, he parked his truck behind my car and he went to work. He changed the tire, put the busted one in my car and told me all about what I could and couldn’t do on the donut (spare tire). He even filled it up with air for me. I was very grateful.
While everything was happening I of course snapped a couple of photos so I could add some images to the post about the adventure and also to distract me. Apart from being really scared about being roadkill there was something else that surprisingly upset me about it, and that was the fact that I still had an instant gut reaction to call my ex-husband to tell him I was stuck on the freeway. Of course I didn’t but I still wanted to and I didn’t have anyone else to call. I did ok, with the help of the Metro man of course, but I did miss the feeling of having someone truly worry about me. It will come back one day. I’ll be calling someone and saying hey this happened and my typical “No, I’m fine. I don’t need help. I can do this by myself” when they say that they want to come help me. My stubbornness and independence will never change – but neither will my desire to be important enough for someone to worry about.
The side of the 210 probably isn’t the best place to come up with deep and meaningful thoughts but I’ll take it. I still prefer the shower.