By Jordan W. Charness
When I was in university I used to get “time saving lifts” home from my father who would pick me up on his way home from work. Unfortunately since he is a lawyer (now my senior partner) and never works only 9 to 5, he was rarely on time to pick me up, despite the best of intentions. I could usually make it home faster by bus and Metro than by taking these lifts but then I would have missed spending that quality time with my dad.
It’s now been many years since I graduated from university and I’d almost forgotten the concept of those time saving lifts. Until recently that is.
One of my partners was kind enough to offer me a lift home. We had some business to discuss and it seemed like a good idea at the time. I figured that I would get home a little bit sooner than taking the train and would come out ahead by about 10 minutes. As it turned out I got home three hours later than expected!
As Steven was driving on the service road alongside Highway 13 we both noticed a sound like a woodpecker pecking away at the side of the car. We thought it might be the sound of a distant jackhammer from some construction work on the Highway but decided to pull over just in case. It was a really good thing that we did.
The pecking sound turned out to be the sound of both tires on the left-hand side of the car rapidly deflating. While he still had some air in the tires Steven made sure to pull over into a little dead-end street where the car would be safely out of traffic’s way. It was clear that we had run over something that punctured two tires.
Since his car was a new one it came with a roadside assistance package. He called the 800 number and was told by a nice lady with a Georgia accent that Highway 13 didn’t exist on her map. After a little more searching she did manage to find the Highway and a towing company that she could connect Steven with. The towing would be free but only to a dealership. Not only that, it would take about an hour to get a tow truck.
There are several instances where monopoly clauses ordering that you deal with one company and only that company have been struck down by the courts, so I read the fine print on the assistance agreement and noticed that with permission and a certain amount of paperwork Steven could get reimbursement of towing charges that would ordinarily be covered under the roadside assistance package even though it was performed by a company of Steven’s choice and not the one that would be sent by the Company. He verified with the nice Georgia Lady that this was so and she said that it probably was.
We called Stan at American Auto and Towing who got a flatbed tow truck to us within 10 minutes. Within those 10 minutes however five more cars pull over with flat tires. When the tow truck driver got to us he called Stan and asked him to notify the Highway Patrol that there was a road hazard alongside Highway 13.
At the towing company’s urging Highway Patrol sent a police officer to the scene who was there within 10 more minutes. By this time no fewer than eight cars had pulled over to deal with their own flat tires. The cops interviewed us and then drove back along the road to see if they could find what had been causing the problems. At this point more than a dozen cars had flats. The police couldn’t find anything on the road and concluded that whatever it was must have been knocked away by the cars that ran over it.
Stan was kind enough to stay open way into the night to repair Steven’s tires and get him back on the road. What he discovered however was that the tires had been slashed by razor blades which he found embedded in the tires! Both tires were ruined by what appeared to be intentional sabotage.
According to Stan, someone must have created some type of board with several industrial razor blades, the type used in utility knives, screwed into it. This must have been deliberately put on the road by someone with a very sick sense of humour. Not only is this sick but it is also illegal in the criminal code. This type of mischief is a criminal offense that carries with it a jail term as punishment. The police are investigating.
The razor blades actually destroyed both tires. In some cases tires may be covered by a road hazard warranty against punctures but in Steven’s case they were factory installed, not replacement tires and therefore were not likely under any type of warranty. I did however suggest that Steven speak to his insurance company since this was really a case of vandalism that might be covered under his policy. Otherwise he’s stuck paying for two new tires!