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Flat tire in the Rockies

Tue, Sep 28, 2010

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Last weekend we jumped into our temperamental little black roadster and headed for the mountains. If ever there was a top down, wind in your face, blue sky, dazzling sun two-lane blacktop day, Sunday was it. It was a day for German engineering, Rocky Mountain splendor and glowing aspens on the back road to Cripple Creek — until one of those superbly engineered W-rated tires blew out.

No problem — just slap on the spare, right?

Wrong. In common with many similar cars, the temperamental little roadster has no spare — just a strangely engineered pump and canister that theoretically enables you to repair a puncture. It’s not terribly useful if your tire is completely blown out.

Oh well, stuff happens.

That’s why you have a cell phone, right? Call your insurance provider, take advantage of their roadside assistance program, and wait for the tow truck.

Wrong. No service on either of our cell phones. Neither T-Mobile or ATT could connect.

Luckily, a good Samaritan with Verizon stopped and made the call. Thanks to him, and to Verizon, we rode back to the Springs in the tow truck.

During that long ride, not to mention during the hour that we waited for the tow truck, I thought ruefully about an email I’d received on Friday, from a reader who had just returned from China.

Here’s the salient passage.

“One last thing: China has made an enormous commitment to modernized infrastructure. Even driving across the Gobi Desert, I never had less than four bars of cell phone service anywhere in the country. Here at home, I can’t even drive across town without dropped calls!”

Sounded great — but how, I wonder, would my insurance provider have arranged for a tow truck in the middle of the Gobi Desert?

It probably would have arrived within half an hour…

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