“Umm, did you hear that sound?” I oh, so casually ask Laura as we drive out of minuscule town of Doolin, on our way to the Cliffs of Moher.
Laura, partially deaf in one ear bless her heart, gives a definitive shake of her head and then re-launches into her story as I can’t shake the nagging feeling like something just happened to the car after the absolutely massive pot-hole I ploughed over at speedy 55 kilometers an hour.
With an ear tuned toward Laura’s story I continue carefully navigating my puttering car up a small and windy road away from the coast and I happen to glance into my rear-view mirror, assuming that I am unduly being a worry-wart.
My mouth drops open, flabbergasted, as I watch one shiny, round hubcap glitter and twinkle in the sunlight as it rolls down the steep road at a clipped pace away from my car.
With something between a horrified gasp and a strangled laugh I slam on the breaks. Laura glances at me concerned and I can only point out the back window, she catches sight of the hubcap as it, thankfully, makes a failed attempt to take the curve in the road and head even further away from my now idling car.
Although we are both choked with laughter, I have visions of huge fines from the rental car company now dancing through my head; after just a moment of indecision I yank the car to the side of the road, punch on my hazards, and do what can only be called a spastically wild dash down the steep road to save my bank account and my gleaming silver hubcap.
Then, because it just wasn’t enough for Laura to witness my mad scramble to save the elusive hubcap, a car turns the corner and aims itself right for my little round hubcap. With frantic waves from the dead center of the road I motion for the car to slow down. Pure bafflement passes over the face of the other driver as I sprint the last 200 meters to rescue my now limpid hubcap resting sedately in the middle of the road.
At this point, Laura has decided that this moment simply cannot, and should not, be missed. The photo is blurry because I do believe she couldn’t stop laughing at my ridiculous victory dance. Now documented for all of time:
And just as I let out a rather awkward and very “white” hip-hop, booty shaking, overly enthusiastic dance of joy for my hubcap’s safety, another car turns the corner from the other direction.
I could be wrong, but the brightly shining sun glinted off the actual tears of laughter streaming down the faces in the other car as they slowed down, gawked, and then passed me. Laura was doubled over laughing as I sauntered back to the car. By this time the cars were stacking up behind me so I was forced to throw my hubcap of joy into the backseat, wipe my now greasy hand on my pants, and peal out from the roadside to continue on our way.
I would really like to say that my driving improved after this incident. In fact, it didn’t. Any other backpackers who were brave enough to sit in my passenger’s seat couldn’t help but anxiously wring their hands as I grazed the brick walls, ditches, and green shrubbery that lines the sides of nearly every narrow Irish road (thank the Universe for full-coverage insurance!).
I don’t think that it helped matters that even after three weeks of driving, I never lost the habit of holding my breath and rigidly tensing my body as large oncoming cars whooshed by on the small roads.
And I’d even love to say that I only lost the one hubcap. But sadly, we must now take a moment of silence and mourn for the passenger’s side front hubcap that is permanently living somewhere on the coastal road between Letterfrack and Clifden in Connemara, Ireland. And though the locals assured me it would be found and hung from a nearby tree…it was lost to Ireland’s never-ending green.
Hubcap, I’m sorry, I went back for you but you forsook me.