I was driving down the Interstate with a semi in front of me and a semi to the right of him, a car to my right and another behind me, in other words, in heavy traffic. All the sudden I hear BANG, BANG! and then I start to see back debris flying everywhere. The next thing I see – and this is the part where everything went slow motion – is a big tire retread flying up in the air – straight towards me.
I remember thinking so many thoughts in such a short span of time. By its height, I reckoned it was going to hit the headlights. That’s okay, I told myself, lights can be changed out and it’s not dark out at the moment. If it happens to cover the windshield, hold the steering wheel steady and watch the vehicle to my right. Stay parallel to them. Really! I was telling myself these things in those few seconds. Then, much like when you straighten out a sheet by grabbing one side and whooshing it up in the air to have it come down all smooth, the tire settled down on the pavement in front of me like a long, thick black snake – and all four of my tires bumped over it. I held my breath for about five minutes waiting for my tires to blow – but they didn’t.
The semi never stopped, never slowed down, and when I finally passed him ten minutes later, he was rocking out to his headphones, probably totally unaware he was missing basically all of one tire. Maybe it doesn’t matter when you have seventeen more. I was breathing again by then, and very grateful that the tire tread had laid itself down the way it did.
Otherwise, I had a very uneventful first day on my trip to Minnesota. All’s well that ends well.