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Things That Went BUMP In The Night Driving

June 12, 2019

It came out of nowhere. One minute we’re driving along at 80 MPH talking about the Festival of Colors at the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork and the next minute, we are staring at a fragmented truck tire directly in our lane.

I was driving with my daughter. Actually, I was teaching her to drive. Or at least practice. She’s a month away from getting her license and all she has left is “night driving.”

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a new driver in your home, you may not remember the requirements for a drivers license. You must have 40 hours of driving practice. And ten of that must be at night.

My daughter got driving hours from several different places. She had done the school Drivers Ed program. She had done ten hours of driving with A-1 Driving School. And her foster mom had done some driving with her. And, of course, I was doing driving. I’m not sure how I ended up with all the night hours. My daughter kind of mumbled, “Not sure” and quickly changed the subject when I asked her.

Anyway, the easiest way (and by that I mean least stressful) to accumulate night hours is to do freeway driving. No stops. No turns. And not a lot of traffic.

This was the second night we’d been out. My daughter is a pretty safe driver. We took my other daughter’s Honda Civic. It’s smaller and easier to handle than any of our other cars.

So, there we were cruising back from a trip south of Provo. We’d been driving about 90 minutes. We were about 30 minutes from home. And then suddenly the truck tire appeared as if by magic. There really wasn’t time to react. Fortunately it went directly under the car. UNfortunately, it was about six inches too tall to fit under there cleanly.

To my daughter’s credit she did everything perfectly correct. She didn’t swerve. She slowed gradually. She pulled to the side.

I got out and checked for damage.

Using the flashlight on my phone I could see the condensor was dented. Dang, I just replaced that a few months ago. Oil and radiator fluid were slowly creating tiny pools on the black asphalt.

I had my daughter turn on the AC. One of the two fans started spinning. So far, so good. She turned the car off and then turned it back on. It started immediately.

I think I’ll drive from here.

The rest of the way home I watched the temperature gauge very carefully. It stayed rock solid. I kept waiting for the oil indicator light to come on. It didn’t.

I dropped my daughter at her foster home and drove the five miles to our house. Did the automatic tranmission seem to be skipping? Was the lingering smell of burning the result of failing systems, or the remnants of the smell of the tire from being pushed along the road?

I pulled the car into the driveway and blocked it in with my car. Tomorrow will be soon enough to see what the damage is.

And I just got done fixing this car.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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