a kettlebell training log, and
a launch pad for aberrant missives

Friday, March 28, 2008

Highway Hero

My right front tire flatly pooped out on my way home from Skyline today. I was on 280N a few exits past where the left lanes split off to 19th Avenue. The car has a flat tire monitor but it didn't even come on. I heard it, felt it, and knew I wouldn't make it off the freeway. The driver in the car on the next lane saw it and kindly turned on his hazard lights, slowed, and guided me across a few lanes to a place where I could stop - a tiny wedge of land between an on-ramp and three lanes to my left.

Turned off NPR, whipped out the phone. Geico's number was on the insurance card. Five menus of choices later, still no option for emergency road service and nary a live person in my prospects, I saw the little Mini Road Service card tucked in with the manual and dialed that number instead. Lady in Texas answered the phone, and she tried very hard to understand where I was. Sorry I couldn't give you a street name, I was on the freeway, I'd just passed an exit sign that I see five days a week but never registered, and I really wasn't sure whether I was on 101 or 280. After much back-and-forth, she courteously announced, "We are dispatching someone from South Francisco. The ETA is 55 minutes. May we call you back at 4:37 pm to check if you've received the service? Here's the reference number for this dispatch ... "

Sure, I'm going to sit here for 55 minutes with SUVs whizzing past me at 85 mph. NOT. Called Geico again, and after an interminable series of number punching I got a guy who said he would transfer me to emergency road service. Just at that moment, an emergency vehicle pulled up behind me - not a tow truck but an official looking vehicle with a blue and yellow logo and a dude in uniform sporting the same. "Ma'am, you got a spare tire?" "Are you the people I just called?" "No, we're the Freeway Service Patrol. I saw you and I came back around. I'll change the tire for you. This is a free service."

Whoa! This was like manna from heaven when you're really hungry. J. Cabrera was my man. (I hope I remember the spelling correctly - it was on your shirt. You made my day!) He proceeded to change my tire, another FSP vehicle pulled up and his buddy lent a hand, and they got the job done in no time. He gave me a brochure about FSP and a survey to fill out, and told me how to safely merge back into traffic. And that was it. What could have been an hour of sitting "in" traffic ended up as an occasion for gratitude. When I do my state taxes next weekend, I will approach it with a much better attitude.

The Bay Area Freeway Service Patrol is a joint program sponsored by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrans, and CHP. You can call CHP at (707) 551-4100 for help on the freeway, and for more information about FSP, visit their website http://www.fsp-bayarea.org/. Just don't call them when you see me zipping past you at 90 mph :-)


Mark Reifkind said...

ah, same thing happened to me a few years ago. the free road service got their before triple A, what a great deal.very cool.

Cecilia Tom said...

I wonder if these folks would fish me out of the water if I slid off the bridge after the next Big One. (Kettlebells in the trunk = sink faster ...)