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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student


Football and a flat tire; my North Carolina vacation

Interstate trauma almost ruined thrill of writing about football

Never go to North Carolina. \nI'm not going back. Until November. Twice. Even then, I'll venture back with the same enthusiasm shared by a sumo wrestler going ice skating. Men's basketball games at Charlotte and Chapel Hill force me to head back to the Tar Heel State. Or shall we call it the "Tar Hell State."\nSee, about nine hours into a 10-hour drive to Raleigh for Thursday's football game against North Carolina State -- though extremely giddy about the 70-mile-per-hour speed limit -- I became entirely tired of the mountain landscape and attractions of North Carolina. Then, catering to my boredom and intent on making my trip exciting, some truck driver decided to let some piece of metal fly from his truck, flop down the road and flatten my tire. A "boom" and a few curse words later, my football-covering partner and I were nudged between an interstate ramp and the interstate; we were about four feet from a steady stream of 5-o'clock-traffic-goers heading toward Raleigh at about 80 miles per hour. Rather than slap on the spare, idle to Raleigh and miss the game, we decided to call for help. Enter, my debut as MacGyver. \nAs my fellow journalist stayed with the car, I ran up the ramp, climbed a fence, ran across both the east- and west-bound lanes of I-40 traffic, climbed another fence and jogged through the doors of a Holiday Inn Express. After a phone call, 10 minutes of waiting and a return trip over the fence, across both lanes of traffic, over the other fence and back down the ramp, a hairy, unkempt North Carolinian mechanic arrived. The best three miles of the trip ensued, as "Uncle Billy Joe" drove us and the car to a gas station. Of the 700 miles between here and Raleigh, those were the only three I didn't drive. \nWhen all seemed back on track, "Uncle Billy Joe" realized he didn't have a tire that would fit this cursed IU Motor Pool car we were driving. So, after spotting a competing gas station across the road, MacGyver (me), dashed across the road. I tracked down a worker (somewhat more cleanly and less hairy that "Uncle Billy Joe"), found out he had a tire that would suffice and wrapped the tire around my arm. Again, playing my own game of "Frogger," I dodged traffic, handed the tire to "Uncle Billy Joe" and changed into my game-covering clothes. About 10 minutes later, we were driving -- considerably faster than before -- again. Traffic in Raleigh delayed the press-box arrival time until 6 p.m., but we made it. \nWe racked up a bill of about $130 for that wrecker service and new tire, but, as I told the less-hairy man at the second gas station, I didn't care. Just get me to Raleigh, then get me the hell out of North Carolina. \nIU's 35-14 collapse and the tire fiasco -- sandwiched between two trips through the Appalachian Mountains that caused me to sweat more than the sprint across the interstate -- didn't make the trip much more enjoyable. But for those five hours at Carter-Finley stadium, I was in heaven: watching football, writing about it and getting paid to do it. \nThen, hell struck again: The North Carolina interstate. The mountains. But after a short nap, I resumed my driving duties, conquered those damn mountains and escaped from North Carolina. Finally. And I'm not going back. Until November. Twice.

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