Saved by a plug patch
Not so many years ago, the city of Lafayette, Indiana still had railroad tracks running down the center of some of its downtown streets.
One day my wife and I were driving down a street in one of the not nicer neighborhoods. For some reason I remember noticing a boy sitting on the steps to his front porch watching us come down the road. Somehow he caught my eye as he was not just hanging out, but seemed to be deliberately watching us.
Only moments later I heard the fwap fwap fwap from the font tire and felt the car pulling to one side. I pulled to the side of the road and found the right front tire of our little red Toyota Tercel completely flat.
As I took out our jack and spare tire, we found we had some company in a small cat who came out to say hello and rub up against me while I worked to change the tire. I am not much of car guy, but I could handle this job, stopping only occasionally to pet the friendly cat with my dirty hands.
After removing the old tire, I noticed the pointed end of flat head screwdriver sticking out of the tread. Using a crummy pair of pliers from our little tool car kit I pulled on the tip and a whole 7 inch screwdriver shaft (minus the handle) emerged from the tire.
As I was coming to the conclusion that the only way this could have so neatly stabbed into our tire is if it had been stuck vertically into the wooden railroad tie in
the middle of the road, we were joined by the boy who had been watching us from the side of the road. He innocently asked what had happened, then somewhat suspiciously asked if he could have the screwdriver blade I had removed from the tire.
Suspecting that he may have been responsible for the placement of the blade in the road in the first place, some entertainment to cut the boredom of a summer afternoon, I decided to keep the blade myself. If he wanted to replay his little game, he would have to find something else.
By the time the spare was in place, and the flat in the back of the car, I was dripping in sweat from the warm afternoon sun. I knew very little about tires or tire repair and felt that the size of the hole would require the purchase of a new tire.
We talked about the cost of new tires, and whether or not we would need to replace all four of the worn 175/75R13 Bridgestone radials we had, as we drove to a nearby tire shop.
After talking to the mechanic there, we were kind of surprised and pleased to learn of something called a "plug patch" which he said could be used to easily repair the tire.
After about 20 minutes and only $12 later we had a good tire again. They even swapped it back onto the car in place of the spare for us.
While I always remained somewhat suspicious of the boy, overall I was pleased that it ended up costing us so little to put the incident behind us.