“Umm, did you hear that sound?” I oh so casually asked Laura as we drove from Doolin—a quaint and inviting village on Ireland’s wild west coast—toward the Cliffs of Moher.
Laura, partially deaf in one ear, paused to consider and definitively shook her head before re-launching into her story. But I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling like something just happened to my tiny rental car after I had unceremoniously ploughed through a massive pothole at 55 kilometers an hour.
With an ear tuned toward Laura’s story, I continued carefully navigating my go-kart-like car up a thin, curvy road away from the coast. Not able to shake the feeling like something had happened, I glanced in my rearview mirror, hoping that I was just a unduly worrying.
My mouth dropped open, flabbergasted. One shiny, round hubcap glittered and twinkled in the sunlight as it rolled down the steep road at a clipped pace away from my car.
With something between a horrified gasp and a strangled laugh, I slammed on the brakes. Laura glanced at me concerned, and I just pointed out the back window with tears of laughter in my eyes. She quickly caught sight of the hubcap as it, thankfully, ran out of steam.
We both paused and burst into laughter. Even with thoughts of huge fines from the rental car company dancing in my head, it was just too funny to watch your hubcap roll down a hill away from you.
Traffic was thankfully sparse, so I yanked the car to the side of the road, punched on my hazards, and did what could only be called a spastically wild dash down the steep road to save my gleaming, silver hubcap (my bank account).
Then, because it wasn’t enough for Laura to witness my mad scramble to save my mercurial hubcap, a car turned the corner and aimed itself right for my little round hubcap. With frantic waves from the dead center of the road I motioned for the car to slow down. Baffled, the driver stopped as I sprinted the last 200 meters to rescue my hubcap, which beckoned me from the middle of the road.
Laura decided the moment simply could not and should not be forgotten.
The photo is blurry because she couldn’t stop laughing at my ridiculous hubcap victory dance, which she documented for all of time.
I skipped back up the road with the weirdest mix of enthusiastic, joyous moves—something between hip-hop, booty-shaking, and the “Elaine dance.” I was just happy no one had run over my hubcap, and didn’t even mind the that the bright sunshine glinted off tears of laughter streaming down the faces of other cars passing me on the 300 meter dash back up the road.
Laura had doubled over laughing as I made it to the car. By this time, the cars were stacking up behind my parked car, so I threw my “hubcap of joy” into the backseat, wiped my now greasy hands on my pants, and peeled out.
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 lining the sides of nearly every narrow Irish road (thank the Universe for full-coverage insurance!).
It didn’t help 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 confession: I’d love to say that I only lost the one hubcap, but it was two. We must now take a moment of silence and mourn the passenger’s side front hubcap, which is permanently living somewhere on the coastal road between Letterfrack and Clifden in Connemara, Ireland. Locals assured me it that it was customary to, once found, hang it from a nearby tree. Some somewhere in Ireland’s never-ending green my hubcap dangles in the wind.