Behold the evil frisbee. Just lying there casually by the side of the road. Hoping someone will pick it up and play with it. Looks all innocent, doesn’t it? Well it’s not. That piece of dark plastic was the root of massive stress and panic for me yesterday afternoon.
So, we’re driving along the road after a lovely playdate and I’m wondering whether we’re going to make it home before naptime – or if this is going to be yet another day of fighting fighting fighting our way towards a very late nap. It’s a hot muggy summers day. We’re rolling along with the windows down and music playing. The traffic is quite heavy so we’re travelling slowly along a long road punctuated by annoying lights that inevitably turn red as we approach. It’s been a long week. And it’s only halfway through. We are enduring some serious bad karma lately. Despite attempts to forget about it all sources of stress, I’m driving along still pondering our precarious housing situation and other potential changes that are all coming to a head this particular week.
Then I spot something just in front of us on the road as it suddenly appears from underneath the car in front. It’s too close to avoid, and I catch only a glimpse of a black circular object before we’re already passing over it. Not the first time I’ve inadvertently run over an unknown object, I doubt it’ll be the last. I cringe in anticipation and then there’s a loud bump somewhere below us. I watch the rear mirror for a sign of what we just ran over and to see how the next car fares with it. But nothing appears behind us on the road. Instead there’s a nasty scraping sound coming from the left side of the car and I’m immediately fearful that a tire has burst. But I’m not quite sure. I’d know all about it if it had, right? Wouldn’t even be a question about it? So it’s punctured then maybe. And we’re in the middle of heavy traffic, approaching a very busy roundabout over the motorway.
Stop or keep going? What’s more dangerous? Am I insane to keep driving slowly, or would it be worse to hurriedly cross lanes of busy traffic trying to find a space to pull into safely? And what then? Last time I needed to change a wheel I was lucky to be on a country road having just pulled in outside a pub to change drivers. While I dragged out the jack and tools, my sister took the opposite approach to solving the situation and posed beside the car looking totally helpless. The stereotypical damsel in distress. Her method was more effective than mine. The first farmer walking past immediately rushed to assist and insisted on taking over the manly job. I, for one, was totally not complaining or offended at being pushed aside. This time though, if it did require a wheel change, I’d be stopping smack in the middle of a dangerously busy road for an indefinite amount of time.
It’s very warm outside. A glance behind shows me that the Rascal has fallen fast asleep in the last minute, completely oblivious to any possible drama. We’re literally 5 minutes drive from home, and at least 3 minutes from anywhere suitable to pull in safely and check for damage. I’m trying not to panic – can’t decide if it’s more dangerous to risk the car being rear-ended, or limp on further at a slow and steady speed. It doesn’t sound or feel like the car is in imminent danger of blowing up or swerving into a wall, so I stay in the lane. I’m hoping desperately that when the traffic lights force me to stop on a steep hill at the very busy roundabout, that the car will move again for me.
It does. But something really doesn’t sound right. The driver of a van passing alongside on the left is gesturing at something – an obviously busted wheel? Something caught in the car? I don’t know. I nod that I understand there’s an issue. Try and evaluate if the car is tilting, but it still seems level and fully responsive. As we swing off the roundabout and up the last hill before there’s a safe area to stop I’m really starting to sweat. There’s a particularly nasty crunchy sound as we go around the little roundabout outside our estate and then finally there’s somewhere safe to pull in for a while.
I inspect the wheels. They look whole and healthy. I give a few experimental kicks. They don’t suddenly deflate. They look fine. Nothing strange about any of them. I check for any sign that the exhaust pipe might have been dangling onto the ground instead. Nope. WTF? Now I’ve practically got a magnifying glass out examining all the wheels and any part of the car I can see without crawling underneath it. All clear. If it weren’t for the gesticulating van driver I might think I imagined the whole thing. I recheck one more time and there’s no sign of anything amiss.
So I get back in the car and start the engine. Gingerly drive the last bit of the way home and cautiously bring the car up the driveway. We’re home. We’re safe. The car is also apparently not in dire need of mechanical aid. I’m still sweating. And shaking, to be honest. I successfully transfer the sleeping toddler to my bed and do another final inspection before giving up and opting for a strong cup of tea, promptly followed by a sneaky nap with the still comatose toddler.
As we go through the afternoon routine I’m still trying to figure out what happened. Something happened. I know we definitely drove over something. There was definitely at least one other person concerned about our car. I eventually draw the conclusion that perhaps something was caught on the car. Something big enough for at least one other person to spot it. That made a lot of scary noise without affecting the movement of the car. But must have come loose on that last roundabout. I’m still worried there’s something else wrong with the car though, because that’d be my luck this week.
Some time later we walk up out of the estate to the Luas line. Just to be thorough, I scan the road as we reach the entrance to the estate. Sure enough, I spot something that doesn’t belong on a roundabout. I relocate it to the path, wishing someone else had done the same thing before I encountered it on the road. No prize for guessing what that object was. Mystery solved. *&£$ you, frisbee.