Oh wait, that’s been used.
The trip into Manhattan last night was another horror. Thanks to the nor’easter, the 45-minute trip stretched out to 2 hours and 10 minutes, from the moment I got on the highway in New Jersey. Coming off the packed George Washington Bridge, the FDR quickly became a parking lot. I got off at 5th Ave., and between closed lanes and slow-moving construction vehicles it wasn’t going anywhere either. So I cut over to Park, and it was worse. So I cut over to Second Ave., and it was even worse than that.
There have been too many trips to the east side that have been like that, I decided I just couldn’t do it any more and told the conductor of the orchestra as much. A pity, it’s a good group that plays good repertoire, but the time and expense are more than I can handle right now.
Coming home afterwards, I shot up the FDR and over the GWB like a watermelon seed out of someone’s mouth. Quickly down I-95 to I-280, even though visibility was not so great because of the rain. It was, after all, a dark and stormy night. But I found myself thinking, as I approached the last leg, how lucky I was that the weather had stopped the usual nighttime repair work on 280, so it was going to be clear sailing the rest of the way.
I’ve never had a blowout on the interstate before. At 65 miles an hour, having one of your front tires go “boom” has a way of shaking you out of that I’m-Going-To-Be-Home-Soon reverie. Just before the drawbridge over the Passaic River, I hit something in the road and and just like that my front passenger tire was history. Riding out the shuddering, I moved over to the right-hand lane, and pulled off at the first exit.
Right behind me were two more cars, emergency flashers on, making that telltale whup-whup sound of a car with a flat as they went by. And then one more after that, which stopped behind me.
My first thoughts involved good things like, flat tires; Newark at night; rain; chill. Why can’t I get a flat on a pleasant sunny day in Millburn?
I gave LF a call to tell her what was up. She then dialed 911, and talked to the South Orange PD, Newark PD, and the NJ State Police. The latter promised to show up, but never did. I asked the guy behind me something along the lines of “gee whiz, what was that?”, only with four-letter words. He thought maybe a storm grate had come lose. I had a four-inch gash in the sidewall of the tire.
Between the two of us we got things going. He had a pump (my emergency spare was down to 5 PSI) and I had a tire gauge (his was broken). It had been such a long time since I’d had a flat, I couldn’t remember where everything was. It was dark, as I think I’ve already mentioned, and raining. But in about 20 minutes everything was put together as best it could be and I was on my way.
The local roads back to Maplewood were a little slower, but safer. After letting the doggie out, I pulled out of the driveway to head back to the LF’s house. It felt funny — funnier than just having the mini-spare on — and I rolled down my window to listen. The back driver’s side tire was also flat. Picture that — the front passenger side, and back driver’s side, both tires out from the same hazard but the rest OK.
I’d already complained to the conductor about the time and expense of driving in for that particular orchestra, but that was before spending another $228 to get replacements. It was a sign; I did the right thing.