The rear-right tire of my car blew out today on I-95. I was driving at a speed of 75 miles per hour. As my car spun to the right , I remembered what I was told about how not to lose control of a vehicle.
1. Don't panic.
2. Don't over-compensate.
As I thought of these two rules, I was vaguely aware of the fact that I was screaming "Oh Shit", in a voice that I didn't recognize as my own. I turned my wheel to the left at approximately 30 degrees from a normal, straight position.
I'd like to emphasize how important it is that you do not overcompensate.
I heard the noise of screeching rubber (what was left of my tire) slowly shifting higher and lower as I spun around. As I remembered the big rig and the bus that were trailing me, I hoped that I was maintaining a decent speed. I remember them hanging ominously in my rearview mirror. After I had spun 180 degrees, the image of the rig and the bus encompassed my windshield. For a moment, I marveled at the sudden switch between the view of my rear view mirror and the view through my windshield. As I spun away, I imagined what one of those trucks would do to my car, I imagined what it would do to me. One veered around me as I completed the 320 degree spin.
I'd like to stop to emphasize another point. It is very important that you maintain an appropriate speed during a blowout. Don't tap your brakes, you will either flip or be struck from behind.
I used what remaining momentum I had to hobble my car into the grassy median. A commercial was playing over my radio, which suprised me, because I always assumed that I would crash while listening to something that was either eerily appropriate, or ludicrously happy. I realized then that I hadn't actually crashed, but spun around in the middle of an interstate on a day which was probably considered to be the busiest of the year. I looked at my right hand, and realized that it would not stop shaking. I was supprised that I was alive.
I got out of my car and was given a ride to a nearby rest stop by two strangers in a pickup truck (I didn't have a spare tire.) They introduced themselves, and I feel like an ass for forgetting their names, but I am grateful to them. They remarked that they were suprised that the car did not flip. I approached a phone booth, and realized that I had just driven outside of my area code when my tire blew out. It would have cost $2.50 to call my parents, so I used a collect service. My right hand was still shaking. I realized at that point that I would have to make a daylog about this. Looking back , it wasn't so frightening, in fact a little comical. I could only imagine how my facial expression contorted as my tire blew, or the string of profanity that I had released, which, in my roommate's words, "...would have made a sailor cry."
A woman approached me as I was leaning on the phone booth, waiting for my parents to call back. She introduced herself as a child of god, and asked if I need any help. I declined, but thanked her. She walked away with a cheerful "God Bless". I replied with a bewildered "You too." It was the most pleasant conversation that I had had which broached the subject of religion. She made me wonder, though. I came to the conclusion that if I had stopped to pray, or even consider god for an instant in that moment after my tire had blown out, I would have ended up in a tree, or pinned under a bus. As they say, nothing fails like prayer.
The tires on my car are being replaced again, so I will remain a pedestrian for the next two weeks. I like being a pedestrian, you get rid of the baggage, you can move freely so long as you have a bus pass. I feel competent to drive, but there are too many other factors that I cannot control. I don't feel as though I've walked away from this with much more knowledge than I had to begin with. That which does not kill me does not make me stronger or smarter, it only makes my hands shake like speed freaks on an active fault line. It only fucks up my car a bit, It only reminds me that the spare was under the carpeting the whole time, it only confirms what I already suspect: When it comes to averting accidents and certain, horrible death, I am a badass. When it comes to planning ahead and packing a spare tire, I am an idiot.