Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Story: The Pin-ball Suburban by Bruce Mero

The Pin-ball Suburban
by Bruce H. Mero

          I'd taken a full week off work to settle into our new house and we needed every minute of the time to clear out the mess the previous owners had left us. That was just the house. The yard was several feet deep in junk all around and the two barns were chocked full of crap also, but our priority was to make the house habitable before we took on those issues. By the end of our second weekend, we'd hauled twenty years of accumulated junk away, ripped-out smelly carpeting, cleaned and scrubbed and polished, then settled into the place with our few worldly possessions.

          I'd promised my boss I'd only be away from work for a week to move and Monday morning was here and time to return to my job. Unfortunately, Sunday night it snowed. Nearly two feet of fluffy lake effect snow lay in the driveway and more at the road where town snowplow had wind rowed the snow another foot higher. Gretchen and I decided I'd beg for one more day off. The problem was that we had no phone in the house to call the boss with...the previous owners had not paid their bills, the phone company had cut-off their service and was very reluctant to turn it back on at that address without a hefty security deposit. That detail we'd not yet worked out, so we had no telephone to call into work with and no cell phones back then either. No problem, I thought, I'd run to the Quick Stop at Stokes Corners and use the pay phone. It was only two and a half miles to the store... I'd be back in ten minutes, I assumed. After a half-hour's effort to move enough snow in the driveway to get my little hatch-back Honda onto the plowed road, I was on my way.

          The town roads were pretty good. The plows had moved most of the snow off the driving lanes and in two minutes I was out to the intersection with the state road that would take me into Rome. There road conditions deteriorated. The last car in a row of slow moving vehicles was sliding sideways as it passed me at the intersection...a cue that I should have picked-up on instantly and turned around right there. Instead, I spun onto the highway and started towards Rome. I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw a red and white Suburban follow me onto the highway. I'd seen the truck parked in our neighbor's driveway during the week and made a mental note to stop there later to introduce myself.  

          Now for a bit of geography. Our new house was located on the southern edge of the Tug Hill Plateau. From our place the elevation increases a little until reaching the state road, then drops over 600 feet in just over a mile and a half, into Stokes Corners. The decent is gradual for the first mile, then the last half mile, at Stokes Hill, the road drops precipitously.
          Since it was my first trip to work from our new home and since the road conditions were terrible, I drove cautiously. My progress was slow. After the first mile, I had not yet caught up with the slow moving caravan of cars in front of me when I crested the top of Stokes Hill. With some trepidation, I tapped the brake pedal on the Honda to slow down just a tad. I looked into the rear view mirror just in time to see the grille and right headlight on the Suburban behind me. Instantly I felt a bump from behind and my Honda headed for the snow bank on the side of the road. I caught my skid and felt another bump. The Suburban was now along side. The bump spun me into the opposite direction and my front bumper hit the side of the Suburban, just behind the passenger door. That sent the truck spinning in a direction opposite from mine and we started a series of side-by-side pirouettes down the hill. We must have collided eight or ten times, I really wasn't counting. Each time either my front or rear bumper would strike the side of the Suburban, we'd both spin faster. With each 360, I'd smack the tall snow banks along the side of the road and that would send me back into another kiss off the red and white truck. The Suburban was doing the same with the tall snow banks. We pin-balled down the road like bumper cars, for what seemed, a very long time. Fortunately, I would later realize, there was no one attempting to drive up the hill while we were careening down. That would have been catastrophic.

          Near the bottom of the hill I was able to gain control of my whirling Honda and was able to slow down enough to allow the spinning Suburban to pass me and harmlessly rotate onto flatter road. The truck stopped a hundred or so feet short of the intersection. I drove up behind and got out. I helped the unhurt, but shaken driver out of her vehicle. She was ashen. I introduced myself to the lady as her new neighbor. She said her name was Annie and suggested that it would have been a whole lot better if we'd met some other way!

           It was only a few minutes before emergency crews were on scene and both drivers checked by medics for injuries, There were none, fortunately. Annie's Suburban needed to be towed away, it was no longer drivable. My little Honda was just fine. It had red and white paint scrapes on both front and rear bumpers, but no other damage was visible.
          The intent of my first trip down Stokes Hill was to telephone the office to tell them I was going to need another day off, but at that point I decided to just drive into Rome and go to work. Gretchen never heard of my exciting ride until my return to the farm that afternoon. We went next door after a glass of fortification to formally introduce ourselves to our new neighbors.

          Miss Annie is still our neighbor and we're great pals. Ironically, we all took a Driver's Safety course together last week.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness! I'm so glad that everyone ended up being okay. What a wild way to meet your neighbor!!!


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