Monday, 24 October 2011

The Eyeopener, Ryerson University's student paper celebrates 45th year of publication without the founding editor for the second time!

A Michelin Harmony blows at 120km and the driver gets off 
the road in one piece. Note the wall puncture top right. 
The tire retains 85 percent of its tread and was installed in 2006. 

The Eyeopener 45th Anniversary missed! Tire blowouts never come at appropriate times. 

by Tom Thorne
The last time the Ryerson University student newspaper The Eyeopener had an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the newspaper's founding in 1967, I missed that festive occasion by a wave of the fickle finger of fate. Somehow the actual date was not conveyed to me by email. Bummer.
Naturally as the founding editor of this reviled yellow rag I want to be at any event celebrating its years serving the Ryerson community with a distaff and critical view of the university's life.
So this time Kat Quinto, who is serving on the current Eyeopener masthead, sent me early emails about the upcoming 45th petulantly telling me that if I didn't attend she would boycott the event. I ran a story on this blog to celebrate the upcoming event and help with the promotion across Facebook and Twitter.
We were all to meet in Toronto at The Blake House on October 20 at 5PM. I decided to stay over and so arranged to stay at the Homewood Inn, a bed and breakfast which is just around the corner from The Blake House. I figured I could stagger back after the event with no problems.
Everything was in place for the 45th or so I thought. At 1PM I start to drive into Toronto from my home in Belleville. On the 401 just after Trenton and before the Big Apple Pie Store, my car starts to shudder and shake. I thought my transmission was about to fall out on the road.
Of course I am doing 120 km when all this happens driving my trusty Honda Accord which has served me well since 2000. I finally manage to pull off the road and stop. Considering the speed I was driving at I am grateful to be alive.
Four way flashers...
I turn on my four way flashers. I am on a soft gravel shoulder and transport trucks are whizzing by well in excess of the 100 km speed limit. I turn off the engine. The acid test is will it start again. It does and so I let it run to keep the battery charged for the four way flashing lights. It also confirms that my transmission is intact because I can shift the gears.
Now I get out. Transports continue to whizz by some honking as if to say we saw you this time. I walk around the car to see what happened. Finally I see the passenger side front wheel. The tire is shredded and the wall has blown out. Damn!  
I get back into the car and light up my cell phone. I call Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) for assistance but I can only give them a notion of where I am after Trenton. Of course I can't remember my own cell phone number ( I never call myself) but CAA wants it. 
Who ever remembers their own cell phone number?
I search for the little piece of paper I keep in my wallet recording the offending number. I find it and call them back. If I can figure out where I am I should call them back again.
Just then, an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) cruiser, now resplendent in their retro-restored black and white paint scheme, pulls up behind me with all his emergency flashers whirling and zigzagging. The constable approaches the car and I roll down the window. "Are you alright?" meaning am I personally alright, he explains.
He tells me that he has found people my age suffering from a heart attack or a blackout at the wheel. I assure him that my doctor gave me a clean bill of health just last week. He seems encouraged. He asks me if I have called for a tow. Yes, I tell him but I need to get back to CAA with my actual location. 
Why the Big Apple is an important landmark on Highway 401.
That's when I learn I am close to the Big Apple Pie Shop a landmark because it literally has a giant red metal apple in the round with a sign that says "14 million pies sold". Now CAA can find me. I call in my position citing this well-known landmark. 
The OPP constable wants me to drive further off the road. I do so which is further proof that my transmission is intact.  It also sinks the shredded tire into some really soft gravel. However this makes it safer from the transports as they speed by. 
The OPP constable leaves but before he does he says his colleague patrolling from Trenton will check in with me which he does later driving a huge black and white Tahoe truck. He has a GPS which confirms my position. Thanks OPP you were great.
CAA is supposed to come in a half hour so I begin to phone the Homewood Inn to cancel my room. In addition, I call The Blake House to leave a message for Kat Quinto. I then sit tight and before too long the CAA truck appears. 
Dinky donut emergency tires don't inspire confidence.
The tow truck guys look at my dinky donut tire and conclude that it will work. Since it has been in the trunk unused since 2000 it is remarkable that it still has air enough to hold up the weight of the engine. They are not going to tow me home to Belleville. "You will be fine to get back to Belleville." the tow truck guys tell me. 
Then they tell me to run my four ways to the Big Apple Pie Shop exit about two kilometers down the 401 towards Toronto. "We'll drive behind you until then, then you go home at 70km per hour on Highway 2."  I get off the 401 with a sigh of relief and give a thank you honk to the CAA tow truck guys as they go back on the 401.
I drive home to Belleville using my four ways when I am on the road between towns. I am tailgated by a run down truck piloted by hosers who want to pass. I stick to my 70 km speed much to their annoyance and they speed by giving me the finger. Most of the other drivers are courteous. In towns driving is just normal. Finally I get to Belleville.
It is only 3:30 PM so I go directly to Belleville Tire where I always purchase new tires. Kim looks at the offending tire in the trunk. What do I want to do? Do I want  to replace these Michelin Harmony tires with new Michelin Harmony tires? Instantly I say yes, because there is a hole in the wall of the tire and then the shredding from the burst wall which indicates something may have punctured the wall from the road. Also the tread is intact.
Measurements reveal that two tires that were recently moved up from the rear to to the front still have 85 percent of their tread left. The other two that had served on the engine still have 75 percent of their tread left. None of the tires when routinely checked earlier this month at my Honda dealer while doing routine winterizing, caused any alarm. The walls all looked normal and no cracks were noticed.
Then the Belleville Tire record is examined on their computer. "Tom, you put these tires on during 2006" they tell me. I didn't realize that it was that long ago. The bottom line is they have a warehouse with stock in it and if I want four new Michelin Harmony tires they can do the job tomorrow at  2PM. 
Yes I say and then I question the wheel rim for the tire that burst. Dallas checks it and it is OK. It wasn't bent or twisted so we can use it. The next day and $614 lighter I am back on the road. And I lucked out a bit, Michelin has a $70 rebate if you replace all four tires. I send it in.
Thanks OPP, CAA, Honda, Michelin and Belleville Tire
I would again like to commend the OPP. Next is the CAA for getting to me on the road within 30 minutes. Thank you CAA tow truck guys for your swift and professional help. Also thanks to the staff at Belleville Tire who had the temerity to suggest that I replace Michelins with Michelins. 
Thanks to Michelin for keeping me safe with such a blowout at high speed. Thanks Honda for your superior rims and direct front wheel drive that can take the punishment of this blowout and not need an alignment.  Let's all celebrate good customer service, good products and a little bit of luck.
© Copyright 2011, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved.

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