I had pretty much made up my mind not to do a statistics page for the recent road trip, since all the essential stuff had already been discussed. But here we go, just the same: 862.5 miles; 25 mpg (Kansas City is hell on fuel economy); $13.50 handed over to the Kansas Turnpike Authority, up a buck and a half from last December; one dazzling display of Euclidean geometry that I thought might have killed a guy.
Not quite three-thirty, on I-35 south of the Mulhall Road exit in western Payne County. I’m dawdling along, in the right lane of course, at about 72 mph — trip peak was 89, achieved pretty much any time I had to get past an eighteen-wheeler — when an aged but shiny Honda bounces off the cable running down the median, lands on the far shoulder facing approximately 170 degrees away from its original trajectory, and then slides ever-so-slowly off the roadway entirely.
(Brief internal dialogue: “Do I stop?” “Of course you stop, you miserable dillweed!”)
I pulled over, got out of the car, and noticed that the driver was able to walk toward me. “You guys okay?”
“Just me,” said the fellow. “I fell asleep at the wheel.”
Which is almost certainly true, since (1) it’s a boring stretch of road and (2) he asked if he could use my phone. Obviously he wasn’t texting or anything heinous like that.
We surveyed the damage. All the sheetmetal on the port side is wrinkled like yesterday’s foil, and no amount of anything will straighten that left-rear wheel. On the upside, it seemed to be drivable otherwise: he could steer, anyway, without tire rub. He thanked me for dropping by, and retreated to the trunk in search of a spare.
“You do have a spare, don’t you?”
He popped open the lock. “Yes!” Like he wasn’t expecting one.
I left him there. I hope he’s all right; he certainly seemed to be taking it well.