We were setting forms for a large headwall on the end of a concrete box culvert...kinda. The crew was setting forms and I was using my powers of observation to determine their progress. They were using their powers of telekinesis to wish me away. It must have worked.
Something caught my attention. I don't know if it was something I saw out of the corner of my eye, or a noise, but I looked up to see a complete tire and wheel from a semi coming down the center of the highway. It was pretty well staying right on the centerline and approaching at around 50 mph. I told the crew "Heads up", which caused them to look up to see what was happening. Those that didn't realize what was happening figured it out quickly from the pointing and comments.
We all had a few of those moments when you really don't know what to do. Should you move? Or, should you just stand still and see what happens? We all chose the latter and watched the wheel travel past, veer off to the shoulder and bounce into the woods; taking a few sapling down in the process. We stared for a few moments and looked down the highway to see a loaded semi limping to the shoulder. Since I was the closest person with any authority, I climbed in my truck and went to see what I could do.
The rig, since it had lost the front left steering tire, could only pull to the left, so the driver had pulled his rig onto the shoulder in front of a closed diner. As I pulled in, he was just climbing down and starting to survey the damage. Meanwhile, the old man that was selling vegetables in the empty parking lot was still staring at the truck and down the highway. He had a ring side seat and must have been thanking his lucky stars the wheel didn't travel straight in his directions. He wouldn't have had any time to react; the wheel could have been the last thing he ever saw.
In the next few moments, a state trooper whipped into the parking lot, bailed out of his car and that's when things got strange. I expected him to immediately see if anyone was hurt. I was wrong. He proceeded to tell the old man to move his vegetables. He went on to explain this wasn't the first time and he was through with warnings about his vegetables on the state right-of-way.
His face red with anger, the trooper continued giving the old man the fifth degree, while walking in circles. When he headed towards his car, I got back in my truck and left. I'd seen all I wanted to see. As strange as things were progressing, I didn't want to find out how strange they could be. If he wanted to know anything, he could find me on the side of the road about a quarter mile away.
I went back to the job site and told the crew what I'd seen. They made a few comments and went back to work. I stayed on site until the trooper drove away and then left to go about other things I had on my plate. I told the crew to get the wheel out of the woods, which they did....it took two of them to wrestle the heavy wheel out to the shoulder. That's where it was when I left that evening. It was gone the next morning. I don't know where it went, but I'm just about sure it wasn't where it was supposed to be.