My friend Chrystine and I were jazzed Sunday. It was a clear sky, perfect temperature, and we were heading for a unique concert, in a private home facing the sea in Ventura. Armed with fresh strawberries and cherries to share, and a few peaches I'd bought for my home, which weren't quite ripe. For a change I wasn't even focused on how we are killing the Pacific as we hit PCH.
A few seconds later, BLAM! "What was that?" I asked.
"Tire," Chrystine answered.
I'd felt no drag on the car at all, but immediately pulled onto the (thank heaven it was there) shoulder. Naturally I'd forgotten my cell phone, and neither of us was up for doing the deed of changing what turned out to be an exceedingly flat tire indeed.
Chrystine to the rescue, not only with her cell, but her AAA account. I of course have roadside assistance but for some reason the card was missing from my wallet, like a few other vital cards I'd inadvertently not switched when making the recent move to a new wallet. Sigh. I did have the insurance info and could make a call to get the right number, but we were sure this would be faster.
"Where are you?" the AAA dispatcher apparently asked Chrystine. "On Rte.1, south of Malibu. Facing north, on the shoulder, with a blue Beamer...license plate # ...No, I don't know exactly how far from Malibu...OK."
Turning to me, Chrystine reported they would be about a half hour. OK, since I have a donut spare, we'll need to run back to my place and switch to her vehicle, a van. Not as neat as loping along in a convertible, but we'd make it to the event. We were cool. Chrystine grabbed the black and white beach ball that was still rolling when we got out of the car, and tossed it into the back of the car. She figured it would be one good thing that came out of this mess.
In just 15 minutes, a Malibu Tow truck zoomed toward us from the south. And swished on by. Apparently we weren't the only fools on the road.
Chrystine's phone rang about 15 minutes later. "No. I never said we were on Rt. 10. We're on Rte. 1, or PCH...Yes, south of Malibu, probably still in Santa Monica...No, we're north of Rte. 10...No, we're NOT on Rte. 10...We're on the shoulder of PCH, pointing north...on the northbound side of the road...It's a blue BMW convertible."
When another half hour passed, now one hour from our first call for help, the phone rang again. Apparently, the driver couldn't find us. The dispatcher had him on the phone and was set to relay more points of information from us to him.
This time I motioned for the phone. Chrystine is from Redlands, this is closer to my territory. Maybe I can give slightly better landmarks. "No, no, we're NOT on Rte. 10. No, I don't know exactly how far from Malibu we are...Blue Beamer...Yes...North of Wilshire, north of West Channel Road. OK? Great."
A concerned citizen on a bicycle pulls up as I am telling Chrystine, "15 minutes."
"Can I do anything to help?" he asks.
"Well, we're waiting for a tow truck but they can't seem to find us," Chrystine tells him.
"I've changed lots of tires in my time. Mind if I try?"
This made lots of sense of course, since he really wanted to help, and we were amazed and relieved when this generous soul started to ferret the equipment out of my trunk.
I was glad I'd thought ahead and strewn the side of the highway with the stuff in my trunk. Embarrassing, but it made getting at the spare much easier for our hero. As he was freeing up the jack, I noticed the Beamer people had included a spare wheel emblem in with the spare tire. They leave nothing unmarked. I like the logo, so I was a little sad that the rim wasn't set up to be decorated -- the plate had no slot to fit. But great news! This was not a donut, but a full size tire! We wouldn't have to run back to my place after all. We were still in good time for our event. Swell!
So our new found BF went at the task. He jacked up the car, then loosened each lug nut, laying all out for later replacement. He also knew that Beamers have a little plug in the flap under the doors, which leads to the place to insert the jack without wrecking the looks. I'd not known that, and felt grateful to be learning this important bit of info. I did remember seeing this in a Beamer sans the rubber trim, but had forgotten.
Anyway, once our bud got the tire ready to be pulled off, he tried to do just that. No such luck. It was jammed in place. "Get in the car," he directed me, "and take off the brake -- it seems to be locking the wheel."
I complied, not realizing he meant pump the brake, and released the hand brake. The car slid forward, causing the jack to tilt and almost crushing this poor man.
Once we all drew a breath, Chrystine suggested I drive the car forward a little and move it farther from the highway, more onto the dirt by the side of the road. This would help insure no one would edge over the white line and hit the car or one of us in passing, and give the jack a firmer foothold.
Heart in mouth, I again climbed in and managed to drive forward as planned. I am usually a fearless driver, but this episode was unnerving me.
Anyway, as our hero was again jacking up the car, our tow truck appeared.
"Why didn't you tell us where you are?" the driver asked in a heavily accented voice. "You said you were between Wilshire and the Channel."
Chrystine, ready to kill him, told him we had it covered and he could go. I wasn't so sure to tell the truth, but both our cyclist and she felt the driver was superfluous. He certainly was obnoxious, so I agreed.
Well, the tire was really locked on tight, and our guy couldn't dislodge it. He even called a friend who told him to kick it from both directions. But with cleats he was reluctant.
So we went back to the cell. This time I took it, called the general number for my insurance company and after only five full minutes and lots of "If you know you party's extension, press 2's," was able to connect with my own road service assistance.
This time we were in better shape. I now knew we were about 1.5 miles south of Malibu, courtesy of our biking friend, and south of Temescal Canyon, which I'd not even thought of. We were told "30 minutes." I wanted to believe. As did our biker, who, bless him, insisted on staying until the next tow truck arrived.
Thirty minutes later, we decided I should call for an ETA. "Where are you?" I was asked. "How far from Malibu?...OK, your driver will arrive within 30 minutes."
15 minutes later. Call from my roadside folks. "Can you give us better information? Our driver can't seem to find you. Where exactly are you on Rte. 1?"
"How many blue BMW convertibles are stuck on the shoulder of the road about 1.5 miles south of Malibu????????" Chrystine asked.
At this point, our cyclist gave up. We could hardly blame him. Someone leaned out of a passing car stuck in a jam and handed Chrystine a big bottle of water. A few others asked if we needed help, and a guy who had been taking a walk hung out with us while we were waiting.
They were very kind. When I can stand it, I'll write the next chapter in this tale. It involves a sum of money and barbecue sauce.
For now, I am as up the wall as any of you who lasted until this point.
Hi, and glad to see you! My blog features memoir and fiction writing tips for you out there aiming to create enchanting memoirs and flights of fancy of your own; new "Pawprints," those close encounters of the furry kind, by moi; and topical comments as they bang on my head to be written. Plus: videos featuring talented authors I'm privileged to work with, reading live, Coming...your life stories, here. Got one you want to share? Use our form to be considered.