Unexcused Absence

June 20, 2006 at 10:05 AM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | 5 Comments
  We were talking about driving, and drivers, and good and bad.  Most people think about their driving ability like they feel about their sexual prowess:  Everyone is an excellent driver, and an excellent lover.  Well, as to how good I am in bed. . . hard to say.  Do I get points for enthusiasm?  How about volume?  I can be loud. 
  But I do know exactly what kind of a driver I am.  I spent a great deal of time as a professional driver, delivering pizza.  Pizza drivers get a bad rap.  Everyone is an asshole in traffic, and then you see a guy with a cartop on, you can call and complain about him.  Assholes.  Chances are, if you feel the need to complain about someone, most likely YOU are the ass.  This applies in all situations in life, without exception.
  When I was delivering full time, I was actually a much better driver than I gave myself credit for, because I bought into the hype.  I was a better driver then than I am now, also.  When I was delivering, for money, with a guarantee, lots of things were at stake.  Money, for one.  Pride, for another.  Other things trailed in the list.  I did drive pretty fast, but never actually as fast as I appeared to drive.  This is true for most seasoned professional drivers.  Look, we were out to make money, and not waste time.  Time spent in the store waiting is not time delivering.  Time delivering is not to be wasted.
  We all learned little tricks.  As a driver, it makes you hyper sensitive and ultra-aware.  My mind was going a thousand miles per hour when I delivered, so everything was in slow motion.  I saw openings in traffic, anticipated and avoided situations, and was completely aware of my surroundings and completely in control.  I knew the timing of traffic lights, and when my green was coming up.  Pulling up behind cars at a light, I could analyse and tell which lane was going to move faster.  I profiled drivers, and I know who is going to be fast and who is going to be slow, and who is going to do something stupid right in front of me.
  That was me then.  Me now, a little different.  I’m a commuter.  By definition, blissfully unaware.  What I am mostly is distracted, and extremely lucky.  The old skills have gone to shit.  I’m sure if I started to deliver again, they would come back.  Some of that stuff is just a habit.  Put a pizza bag in the passenger seat, and I am ON it.
  Shortly after I got engaged, Linda and I were driving around somewhere.  Some one pulled in front of us, and then stopped quickly.  Assholes.  This is the typical suburban driving bullshit.  I quickly stepped on the brake and clutch, and and the same time put my right hand on her lap.  Later, she commented how sweet that was, that I thought to put my hand on her, as if to protect her.  Sweet, yeah.  Sure.  If true.  I explained to her, "I do it automatically, to keep the pies from sliding onto the floor."
  I’ve had close calls, we all have.  I’ve had a few fender-benders, nothing serious.  But I had a serious close call many, many years ago.  I was 17.  so, what, was that about 6 years ago?  Four? Twenty-four?  Oh.
  I was driving to school one nice spring morning.  I had Jay with me, a friend who up until recently I just couldn’t stand.  Living in a small town, eventually you have to get along or shoot it out.  We lived about ten miles from the town we went to school in.  We took the back roads, not because they were quicker, but because they were more fun. 
  I was driving a 1971 GMC full ton pickup.  It was 1982.  This truck had been through alot, and it had more power than a seventeen-year-old needed, that’s for sure.  Because my brother had driven it before me, my dad had taken a clutch pedal spring and installed it on the gas pedal.  This meant you had to work harder to make it go fast.  But we did. 
  These backroads didnt really have names.  It was "the road on the New Bridge," "the hard-top into town," "the two-lane by the highway," and other clarifying nomers.
  So instead of taking the hard top into town, which turned by the railroad tracks and then hwy 177, we’d take the hard-top, turn off by the silos to the sassafras road, and it deadended on the road by Barnpohl’s farm, which was also called the main backroad.  Turn by Stegmyer’s pasture, and that crossed the tracks closer to town, right near school.
  So on that last straightaway–these are all paved, blacktop, nominally one-lane roads.  You could pass a car coming the other way, but that about it.–On that last straightaway, there was a series of three bumps.  Tiny little drop-offs, but if you were going about 50, you would get a little air.  The truck would go "wuh. . . whump" in a series of three. Just my little "Dukes of Hazzard" moment that I looked forward to every morning.
  So we hit the first one.  "Wuh. . . whump."  
  Then we head for the second one.  The third one is going to be in the middle of this little bridge.  Really, over just a drainage ditch.  The road actually narrows to one lane, and there are concrete barriers on either side, otherwise you dont know its a ditch.  We hit the second one.
  "wuh. . . whump.  Clunk!"
  That is not the usual sound.  At the rate of speed we are going, we have about fifteen seconds to the last one.  The reason why these fifteen seconds are important is because of the clunk sound we heard.  As we are still clipping along at a pretty good rate, the truck gradually starts to veer to the right.  We are looking really good for lining up the center of the truck with four foot high concrete bridge marker.
  Jay, in the passenger seat, starts to panic, which is good, because it means I didn’t have to.  He’s yelling at me to do something.  The concrete is fast approaching.  I had been pulling the steering wheel to the left, to no avail.  I quickly turned it hard, and kept turning it, all the way to the left.
  Very suddenly, with probably 10 feet to go until we hit, the truck *hops* to the left, and then it jerkily skids to a stop some forty feet down the pavement.  Jay and I sit quietly for several seconds.  I say, "Wow."
  We get out to inspect the truck.  The left wheel was turned all the way to the left.  We go to the other side, and the right wheel is all the way to the right.  They were splayed apart like a cheerleader’s legs on prom night.  Further inspection showed a broken tie rod on the right.
  The long and short of it was, we walked back to a farmhouse, and the farmer gave us a coat hanger which we tied the tie rod back up with, and drove slowly back home.  From my house, Jay walked home.  By this time we were about an hour or more late for school, and we decided not to go in after our brush with death.  I was a pretty good kid in school, never cut or anything like that.  This was my only unexcused absence of any kind.
  Not sure what the point is of this story, or the moral.  One of my few fears is dying in a car accident.  So sudden, no warning, no chance to say goodbye.  No chance to make amends for the wrongs, misdeeds, miststeps, mistakes.  Roads not taken, turns not turned. Regrets.  I don’t want my death to be a public spectacle on the roadway, and that is how I am last remembered, as a fatality.  What were they on their way to do, before they died, unexpectedly?  To meet with a lover? To see a friend?  To pick up a child?  To go home and drink, and pick a fight with the spouse?
  Where?  Where were they going?
  God, I have completely depressed myself.  Sorry.  This was originally cheerful when I wrote it.  After all, I lived to tell the tale.
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  1. You did live to tell the tale, and it sounds like a great story, one to get better and better as you get older, and who you tell it to! lol
    Glad to see you stop by my place… and HEY, what if I WANT you to stalk me? Sheeeesh! lmao
    I hope I\’m bringing some smiles into your life, you need some right now, so, I will say, please, enjoy this crazy neighbor, and I\’ll flash ya when ever I see ya lookin my way. BIG HUGS, and Kisses, (and a grope of your fine ass) Steph

  2. broken tie rods, tires that fly off, geesh…  glad you\’re not driving my car!
    *shaking head*
    hugs and love

  3. You sound like a smart.calm driver though in tough situations! That is cool! I live in pretty much a college town and country now and the roads are great with amazing views but narrow and often unpredictable. A car stopped by slamming on the brakes to miss wildlife in front of me then the pizza guy hit me and in order to miss the girls in front of me – I had turned the wheel so when the guy hit me I also ended up with the front end in a tree. Car was a V. I have to admit that I was pretty shaken given my last near fatal accident (which was much worse but any red lights and that wham sound just stinks)- so I was a bit mad but really was just plain and out scared – plus one more bang to the head won\’t be helping much matter for me – so I wasn\’t a joy at the accident –  I wasn\’t talking much to anyone. I wasn\’t particularily friendly to the pizza guy but really I wasn\’t kind to anyone. SO I really don\’t register which company the guy works for cause I\’m not thinking about it. I\’m wondering if I should get a catscan to my already brain injured self. i dread hospitals so I\’m stuck on this thought. But the next time I order pizza – it is the guy! I could have apologized but I was so shocked or he could have apologized – the whole being rear-ended at a quick stop for the girls in front of me is a tough one – I mean it sucks when you are driving and someone slams on the brakes.- why did I not think this was possible that he would show up with my pizza? Sad thing was I couldn\’t figure out what to do or say and quite frankly was scared that he hated me and would rightfully spit in my pizza the next time – so I had to find another pizza place. Did I do the right thing? I mean what does one say anyway. Your car and my car are a mess, let\’s grab a cab and a beer one day? -patti

  4. Hey there! I wanted to give you my new address.
    Please excuse the fresh paint and dust bunnies.  oh and can you grab that box and put it in the back room? thanks.
    http://thedualexistence.blogspot.com/

  5. ahem !
    some of us like changing our backgrounds and themes… hell, I just might change it again tomorrow!! I might just change it again yet tonight even!  What ya got to say to that, big boy?? huh? huh? bring it on… I can take ya!!
    YOU might want to consider changing your background theme…. it\’s so …. not you. And quite frankly, it\’s getting boring.There. I said it. It\’s out.  Good thing your writing isn\’t, you might lose your fan base.
    C\’mone, Bry.. take a chance, liven it up a little around here. Let\’s see some bright colors and dancing hula girls, lol
    okay, okay….  then don\’t. whatevah
    *grin*
    hugs and love


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