Tales from the pothole

There are a million potholes in the naked city, and a million stories for each one. Here’s one submitted today by Bonnie Jean MacKay of St. Paul.

I was on my way home from dance practice at about 9:45 in the evening last week Wednesday, and I hit a pothole really hard. It was dark, and this one I just didn’t see in advance. The car immediately began to handle poorly and pull to the right, so I pulled over, and got out to look at the tire. I couldn’t see it because the slush was too deep. I got back in and pulled forward. Totally flat front passenger side tire. We were stopped near the intersection of University and St. Albans.

As we were getting the roadside assistance number out of the glove box, my daughter looked over to the left, at a car that was slowing to turn left at the same intersection. “The same thing happened to them.” she said. We could see their car’s front passenger side tire was totally flat.

I checked traffic, put my car in gear, my blinker on, crossed University and pulled up behind them. Two men in suits were getting a spare tire out of their trunk. I stopped my car about 20 ft behind them and followed suit, only it took me longer, because I had just emptied a storage locker, and had a full box of miscellaneous books in my trunk, and the box had broken to the point where I had to take all the books out in little stacks and put them in my back seat.

My 16-year-old daughter remained in the front seat on the phone or on hold or being transferred about by the roadside assistance dispatch people. Eventually she told me that it would be about 35 minutes before anyone got to us. I got out the spare tire, and placed the jack where it needed to be, and proceeded to try to loosen the lug nuts. Too tight, so I called to the people working on the other car, where by now a whole family, including women and children were gathered ’round. I didn’t see where they all had come from, but presumably from inside the car. I asked which way to loosen? Because even though I thought I knew, it wasn’t working, so one man came back to my car and loosened all my lug nuts. I think he was originally from Sierra Leon or some such country in Africa. He was very helpful and kind (and especially importantly, bigger and stronger than I).

So I jacked up the car, took off one lug nut, and some guy in a little car pulls up right behind me. He sat in his car for a bit, while I worked, and then got out and said, “Oh! You are changing your own tire! You don’t have to do that!” This puzzled me. “Why?” I said. “It’s flat. I have to change it”. He said, “That’s my job! I’m the roadside assistance guy.” “Oh!” I said. “Well I am nearly done now.” “Well, stop. Let me do it”, he said. “Why didn’t you wait?” I said that I was told it would be 35 minutes, and I figured if I could do it myself, I wouldn’t have to wait that long, and I was nearly out of gas.

So the roadside assistance guy finished changing my tire. My jack failed, and he had to use his, so it was good that he came. I thanked the people in front in the other car who had hit the same pothole with the same result, and we all drove away. I stopped at the gas station on the corner of Marion and Rice, and hailed a police officer.

I asked how we report really bad potholes, and told him that I and another guy had both hit the same one and flattened our tires. He looked at my car and saw that the little spare was installed, which he took as assurance that I didn’t need further assistance at that time, and said he would call public works. I said ‘thank you.’ I filled my tank, bought ice cream (a rare treat, but one I decided I deserved), and we went home.

The next morning I took my car in for a new tire. Fortunately I had a lifetime warranty from Fleet Farm that covered all labor and half the price of the new tire. My damaged one had a large cut in it, and the rim was bent. The new tire held despite the bent rim. I drove that same route in the daylight on Saturday around noon, and saw that many potholes had been filled, including the one I must have hit Wednesday night, because I didn’t see one that could have flattened my tire about where that had happened. So I was very glad that the Public Works team had been out on University Avenue filling potholes.

THANKS you guys and gals who take care of our roads! I hope we continue to have money to pay you well for your services!!

You can report your community pothole here.

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