, Corbin, KY


March 13, 2014

The flat-out truth of my Friday night

CORBIN — “To whom this concerns — I will be back before noon Saturday to get my car. Please do not tow it away. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

That’s a request I scribbled in red ink on a notebook, which I left on my dashboard last Friday night.

Why would that be, you ask?

Well, let me explain.

Usually on the weekends I am headed toward Tennessee after work — and last Friday was no exception.

The week before, I noticed one of my tires was a little flat, and hoped I could get the tire to limp along until I was able to get it plugged.

That was the original plan for my Saturday.

Typically I take the less-congested route on U.S. 25E through Barbourville, Pineville and Middlesboro.

And again, Friday night was no exception — right up until I entered the 45 mph zone in Middlesboro.

Usually when I drive through these three towns I do so in the passing lane — it seems to be a habit for people to play the “I Wanna Be First” game and pull out in front of you if you’re traveling in the regular lane.

Usually there’s better warning about an impending left turn from the passing lane — often there’s actually a lane to get into first.

And in my usual fashion, I had just entered into the left lane as the 45 mph came into view of the headlights.

I was listening to the radio and singing along to an old Golden Earring song — and then it happened.

A huge explosion-like sound burst from the front of the car — and the car veered out of control.

Without hitting anything, I ended up getting the car stopped in the median.

I thought maybe a bearing had broken or I had hit something.

But no — there was a dinner-plate size hole in my driver-side front tire and the rim was a few inches into the earth.

What fun. Past 10 at night, without a flashlight, and in the dark, I forged my way through and eventually managed to affix the “donut” spare tire to the rim. I dumped the blowout in the trunk, and again started by trip back to Tennessee.

Knowing the donut was there, I drove a little slower — most of the time I did 40 mph.

I made it through the tunnel, through Harrogate and even through Tazewell.

As I was driving up a larger mountain that includes a scenic overlook, I began to get a little comfortable that I’d make it home.

But my thoughts soon betrayed me.

As I climbed the mountain I started hearing this zipper-sounding noise — and this time the car veered out of control to the right.

I got into the emergency lane and thought, “No way.”

But in fact, it was “yes way,” — a huge tear shredded the inside sidewall of the passenger-side tire.

Again I was stuck — but this time a little more permanent.

I got home, slept and after getting a tire headed back to where I’d abandoned my car.

Upon my arrival I saw that the donut, too, was pancake-flat and had been riding on the rim.

I wasn’t meant to get home Friday without help — and that’s the flat-out truth.

John Ross is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at

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