Maritza Ruiz-Kim

Artist, San Francisco Bay Area

Tire Blown

“I am on the 24 headed East just after the Acalanes Exit, on the Pine Avenue overpass.”

If only I could have had that exact location pinpointed in my brain, to be ready when the AAA lady asked me.

I had a tire blow out on Highway 24, with my baby boy in the car!, when I was going over 60mph on the fast lane, and I ended up on the overpass shoulder of the freeway, right

Now I know it was over Pine Lane in Lafayette, with only a 2 foot guardrail protecting me from my car being crashed down onto the street below, if we were to be hit by on oncoming car while waiting to get towed. With my baby boy in the car!

I can’t even explain the fear. But I will try. I am not one to burst into tears typically, but as soon as I got my car to the right shoulder, and I realized I couldn’t get off the overpass, and that I would have semi, after bus, after huge truck, after semi passing my mini-van just a few feet to my left… well, I burst into tears.

Then, I thought.. call police? AAA? or my husband? I called my husband. Got voicemail a couple times until I finally caught the attention of the receptionist. Don’t transfer me! Page him! I don’t have a company/name, I am his wife! It’s an emergency! Well, I didn’t yell, I was trying not to cry… . And then he calmly helped me, and I called AAA only to be told that TWO tow companies wouldn’t come to me because they couldn’t pinpoint my location.

AAA: “Ma’am, where exactly are you located on the 24? Are you parked in a safe position?”

Me: “No, I am not parked in a safe place, I am on an overpass, and I have a baby on the car. I don’t know exactly where I am on the 24, there are no signs in my view.” (Seriously. Not one. I was just pass one curve on the freeway, and a curve lay ahead of me. Therefore, no signs in sight. The sign on the 24 West side of the freeway was further down in front of me, therefore I could only see the back of that sign. I had no freakin’ idea! where I was.)

AAA: “What exit did you just pass?”

Me: “I wasn’t paying attention.” (I was just passing thru! Who cared if I was at Happy Valley Rd. or Miserable Mtn Rd. but I am going crazy now!) (Happy Valley truly is one of the exits.)

AAA: I can’t send a tow if I don’t know your location.

Me: I definitely passed Orinda, and I definitely have NOT passed Central Lafayette. I am between 1 to 3 exits past Orinda. I can see Mt. Diablo Blvd from here, but it runs perpendicular to the freeway, and the sign that identifies the street that goes under the freeway is blocked from my view.  If someone just gets on the 24 in Orinda heading east, they will see me before they get to Lafayette!

(extended hold while my car is rocked by passing vehicles.)

AAA: Ma’am, the 2 tow companies I spoke to cannot pinpoint your location as three exits from Orinda, near Mt. Diablo. They will not come if they cannot pinpoint your location.

Me: I didn’t say three exits away! I said up between one to three! Forget it, I will call the police. I am not in a safe place, I have a baby in the car!!!

She connected me with the CHP.

The CHP was there for a bit, but the tow guy took a long time. CHP guy got called away to another accident, and I waited alone again, rocked by speeding cars. Finally the Tow Guy came. He already had a car on his truck, so he could only change my tire to the spare. He took care of it, and I pulled back into traffic, with me, Zee, CHP guy, and Tow guy all alive. I was afraid they’d get side-swiped by a car while I watched, and that I’d be scarred forever by it.

Instead, I am left with this story to tell. 🙂

2 Replies to “Tire Blown”

  • Yikes!! that OS super scary. stuff like that really freaks me out because we don’t have a cell. I guess the police would eventually came by. Couldn’t the cop have taken you and Z to a safe place? I’m glad nothing bad happened

  • WoW! That is so scary! I had that happen once (only I didn’t have a baby in the car with me) when I was on my way to San Ramon. I didn’t know where I was either – somewhere after the last Walnut Creek exit and somewhere before the first Alamo exit. I was pretty hysterical as well. It is so scary being in that left shoulder because there just isn’t enough room to be protected! And with everyone flying by in the “fast-lane,” I felt like I could’ve been crushed at any time! Yikes!

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