An acrid, burning asbestos smell caused nasal curiosity for several miles climbing the topology of Route 2 West homeward Wednesday night. Looking for the 18 wheel suspect, I passed several, but the nose nastiness remained. Traffic thinned and about 5 miles from my destination, a white trailer belched grey smoke 100 years ahead. After cutting half the distance, suddenly a dense cloud emerged from mid-undercarriage along with airborne black debris bouncing along the highway. Most of it landed and harmlessly slid to rest, except one piece bouncing along the pavement with the trajectory of a golf ball. I slowed, but with cars behind and aside me, there was very little room for evasion and the object seemed to be erratically fluttering like it was thrown by Tim Wakefield. This all happened very quickly, and as the black plastic defied physics and fell to earth, there was little doubt it would get a piece of me. “F%$#, that’s going to…” A loud, heavy bang thumped over the iPod’s efforts, followed by another along with the feeling my front, passenger tire ran over the heavy metal.

The long white trailer pulled over by the Route 70 exit and I pulled up right behind. Getting out of the car, there was no doubt where the smell was coming from. After checking oncoming traffic in the side-view, I got out and walked forward for inspection. The front lower “fin” was pretty badly smashed, and the plastic housing around the running light was hanging off.

Back in my car, I sent a text message as the trailed driver inspected his undercarriage. A State Trooper pulled up behind me and proceeded to walk around my car. “Are you OK? Is it just the front and the door?” “The door,” I replied surprised. Yeah, the door. Whatever the piece was, it somehow ripped into the lower grill, went under the tire, then exited out the side, ripping a gouge between the front quarter-panel and the door, which now makes a loud, metallic wrenching sound when opened.

Not too bad, I suppose. It’s just a car. Although, it did occur to me what the damage might have been if the mind of metal picked my windshield for a hello kiss. In that case, the trooper might have inspected permanent and irreparable damage. I was lucky.

I’ve never liked heavy metal.