Last night I was in my pajamas, full of cold meds, when DH called. He was on his way home from a business trip to New York City.
“Hi, Sel. Well, you’re not going to believe this. The tire came off my car.”
DH is notoriously inattentive when it comes to vehicles. He is the only person I know who has driven a car without oil until the engine seized up. Before he had a company car, overseen by a maintenance crew, I always got in his car occasionally to stay aware of various warning lights and strange behaviors that he might have overlooked. Once I exclaimed, “Your brake light is on!” He replied cheerfully, “Yes, it’s been stuck on for a while.”
Now I asked, “Did the tire blow somehow or did the whole wheel come off?”
“Let me check.” There was a pause. He came back to his phone. “The wheel is off. The axle is sitting on the road.”
That would seem to be definitive. DH uses a company car for his many trips downstate to the city and to airports. Two weeks ago, he was given a brand-new small car to replace the Ford Focus of the last decade which had finally rusted out. Surely the wheel should not have fallen off a brand-new car.
The important thing, of course, was that DH was safe, and only a little more than an hour from home. I pulled on my jeans and sweatshirt and drove to pick him up where he was stranded at the side of the highway. It was late at night and snowing lightly. A state trooper was there, and with his flashlight showed me and the tow-truck driver that three lug nights on the wheel were missing, and the two remaining had snapped.
DH climbed into my truck. I could have come in our car but I had been so frightened for his safety that I’d wanted to take a tank to the rescue. As I drove us home through the dark, I patted his leg for reassurance.
It did occur to me that a wheel would not have come off without some warning of instability. “Did you notice anything was wrong?”
“Well, it did have sort of a shimmy at high speed but I remembered you saying that could happen if a car needed alignment.”
I pictured the wheel wobbling drunkenly back and forth on the axle before flying off entirely.
DH added, “When I got home, I was going to write an email to maintenance.”
Thank you, God, for taking care of this dear man.