We had an interesting Monday when it came to interactions with automobiles, both indirectly and directly.

Things started with a bit of a bang. Just before we were heading out of the house to do school drop offs C yelled to us, “There’s a car on fire outside!”

I ran to our front door and, sure enough, on the main road our house sits near, about 100 yards from our front door, a car was sitting, hood open, with flames pouring out of the engine block area. I yelled up to S and then got on the phone to 911. As I waited to get patched through to the fire department, I saw S running down our street to check if there were any people inside who needed assistance.

A fire truck had already been dispatched so we watched out our window for a few moments. S wasn’t quite to the car yet when the battery or something else under the hood blew, shooting sparks out with a loud pop.

As I said, it was nearly time for us to leave and we were picking up another student on the way, so we couldn’t linger. Just as we were leaving the fire truck pulled up and began dousing the car. We would normally drive right next to where the car was sitting but took the back way out of our neighborhood to avoid the traffic that was buying up and hoped all would be well.

By the time I made the school circuit and returned home, all seemed quiet. The car was still sitting there, hood up, but apparently safe because the kids who catch the bus at that corner were standing 20 feet away waiting on their ride.

About an hour later a man showed up and started gathering what I assumed his belongings. Moments later a tow truck arrived to collect the car.

No idea what happened but there appeared to be no injuries. S told us in the evening that when she ran over a school bus driver who was down the side street was already looking in to see if anyone was in the car. Neither of the saw anyone. We assume the driver had run over to the YMCA that is next door to wait for the fire department to arrive.

Our afternoon drive from school take us through some of the finest stretches of roads in the city. (Sarcasm alert.) We go through long stretches that are filled with potholes, both new and roughly patched older ones. It’s a wild ride some days. Yesterday I think the odds finally caught up with me and I had the first blowout flat tire of my life.

We were about five minutes from home, in a relatively healthy stretch of road, when I heard an odd, metallic pop. I hadn’t seen anything in the road before I heard the noise but checked my rearview mirror as I passed to see if I had indeed driven over something. I saw nothing.

I figured it best to check my tire pressure readings in case I had driven over something. Sure enough, one tire was rapidly losing pressure. I gambled that we could make it home, got lucky with a stop light, and we crawled into our driveway as the tire was going totally flat. We were moments from being what has become a common site in Indy the past few winters: a car driving slowly with a completely flat tire that is beginning to shred itself.

Semi-amazingly, I did not change a tire until I was 29 or 30. But since then I’ve changed my share. S seems to be a magnet for nails and construction debris. I’ve changed many tires for her. I’ve had a few normal flats of my own, the kind you have no idea are flat until you walk into the garage to leave and a deflated tire greets you. I’ve helped family and friends change tires. In other words, I’m experienced.

I knew going in the process would suck. I currently drive a Chevy Tahoe, and this is my first completely flat tire with it.[1] But I did have to use the spare tire on my previous vehicle, a Suburban, so I knew that Chevy hides all the parts you need to change the tire in strange places that require an engineering degree to access. I won’t bore you with all the details but it took me a full 45 minutes to find all the parts of and assemble the jack, figure out how to access the spare, get the spare on the ground, and then figure out the proper/safe place to connect the jack to my Tahoe’s frame. Along the way I read the owner’s manual to the point of frustration and had to watch three different YouTube videos.

After all that it was an easy five-minute process to put the spare on. But, good Lord, it was an effort to get there. Thanks goodness I was in my garage with good lighting and some shelter, even if the floor was wet from the morning’s rain. I was glad I wasn’t in a dark parking lot somewhere with rain coming down.[2] And I cursed the people at Chevy who found a way to make changing a tire way more complicated than it should be. I hope there’s a special place in hell for all those jackasses.

  1. I had a slowly leaking tire on it two months ago that I did not have to swap for the spare before having repaired.  ↩
  2. I’ve done that before.  ↩