Melanie was driving in to my office so that we could get some notary work done (relating to buying our new home). All seemed to be fine, from my end, until I got a panicked call from her just minutes from the office.
"I think the tire's going flat," is how she started our conversation.
"Where are you?" was my opening salvo.
"The Woodside exit, oh shit, the tire just came off. I'll talk to you later."
What?!? I called right back and got her to describe exactly where she was. I also got her to confirm that she was standing so that the van was between her and traffic. With that knowledge tucked in my belt, I got Dan to give me a ride in his car to the scene.
Five minutes later, as we neared, I was so very glad to see that one of the CHP Freeway Service Patrol trucks was pulled up behind our minivan and the coveralled rep was already trying to get the blown tire off the van. Turns out he'd come upon Melanie and the girls a minute after she'd gotten off the phone with me. The Woodside exit was the northern end of his route and he was turning around to head south on 101. His job is to patrol 101 looking for breakdowns and flat tires to get the victims off the shoulder as quickly as possible so as to thwart looky-loos from slowing down all the rush hour traffic passing by the scene of the breakdown.
Within minutes he had the spare tire on and the shredded original in the back of the minivan. Very efficient, very friendly, very helpful. All I had in my pocket was $18 cash, so I pushed all of it into his hand even though he said "it's a free service." His helping us out in a jam was worth so much more than that.
We didn't make it to the Goodyear shop in time to get the minivan's tire replaced tonight. Melanie will have to do that in the morning.
I checked out TireRack tonight to get an idea how much it'll cost to buy a replacement Bridgestone Turanza EL42. It looks to be a $200 proposition (as long as the rim is still ok). And to pour salt in the wounds, based on feedback at the TireRack site, this particular tire model is a piece of shit anyway (2 in 10 would buy the tire again, given the chance). We only managed just over 7,000 miles on this one. I wonder how long the others are going to last?