If any of you have ever driven on City Avenue, you know it’s not a great place to have vehicle trouble. It’s surprising there hasn’t been more considering the crater-sized potholes that speckle that particularly busy thoroughfare. I suppose I should be thankful since it’s those potholes which made the story I’m about to share possible.
A few weeks ago my brother-in-law Tommy and I were enjoying a sunny Saturday, out on a venture to sell his motorcycle before heading up to Lancaster to look at a different one he might purchase. After selling his bike, our journey found us barreling down City Ave. With the windows down and country music blaring loudly, we were as happy as two kids in a candy shop. That is before localized, vehicular hell decided to break loose.
My jacked up Dodge was cruising down the road at about thirty-five miles an hour, less than a half mile before all the on-ramps to major highways. I had commented not long before, immediately after hitting a particularly aggressive pothole, that my truck had been making a squeaking noise I wasn’t familiar with that day. Well, we were suddenly confronted with a jarring bump, in which my side of the truck dipped dramatically, followed by a metallic noise, accompanied by a cacophony of other, equally disturbing noises.
At this point, neither of us knew what to do, because there was nowhere to stop, and we were in the midst of traffic. The answer soon came to us however, because not thirty yards further, an even louder, metallic bang ensued. The truck lurched even more violently this time, followed by the disturbing sound of metal dragging on pavement. We looked at each other in disbelief; no—my memory remembers it more accurately as horror, and neither of us knew what to do. Something was clearly wrong with my truck, but we were still going down the road.
Luckily, before too long, a driveway came into view—the last driveway before the maze of exits to the plethora of freeways. I turned the wheel, yanking my truck into submission, and it begrudgingly complied as it pulled into the godsend of a driveway. To my astonishment (then my dismay), as I struggled to stop the truck, Tommy shouted, “Holy crap, that’s your tire!”
Keep in mind, I’m a logical individual, so my first thought was that whatever he was referring to, it couldn’t possibly be my tire. Tires belong on the truck, and I knew from years of being inside a vehicle, one cannot see their tires when they are in the truck. This was when I craned my neck to my left to see my tire—my big, off-road, truck tire speeding down Cityline Avenue, still upright, looking very determined to get away from us.
Though it was probably my personal responsibility, I shouted the first thing that came to mind in such an unprecedented moment. “Tommy, go get it!” Like the gracious person he is, he bolted from the truck and sprinted after the runaway tire as I exited to survey the damage. Sure enough, my rear tire had actually detached itself from the vehicle, and my axle, which had been dragging across the surface of the road, was resting comfortably on the ground.
We were at the top of a hill, and by the time Tommy began his pursuit, the tire had gone over the crest of the hill and soon began to pick up speed. This was a recipe for chaos on a busy avenue bulged full of motorists at the beginning of rush hour.
As I stood helpless, staring at my truck and shaking my head, my tire continued its warpath. Crossing lanes, it nearly collided with a cyclist who didn’t see it until the last second, forcing him to slam on his brakes. It continued to speed along, whizzing between and past cars whose drivers must have done double takes, my brother-in-law all the while huffing and puffing after it like a cop on the heels of a purse snatcher.
The tire didn’t give up without a fight. In a grand display of defiance, the crescendo of chaos ended with my tire slamming full-speed into an occupied, new Cadillac at a traffic light at the bottom of the hill. The driver exited, screaming colorful expletives at my red-faced brother in law, who simply grabbed the tire and said, “Sorry, gotta go!”
Minutes later, he’d rolled the tire all the way back up the hill to me, and after thanking him profusely, we went to work reattaching the tire to my truck. I tightened the lug nuts beyond tight, and believe it or not, I drove my truck all the way home to Northeast Philly that same day. No thanks to the potholes.