Sunday, March 6, 2016

It Was An Accident: Part 8 – Not Really an Accident, But Scary

I don’t have any more real accidents to write about, but this story is about an incident that could very well have ended in the most serious accident I’d ever been in.

Back in 1975 and 1976 I spent my time alternating college semesters taking classes and being a cooperative student. I was the most cooperative student you’d ever seen. I’d do anything for money. Well, not really. The cooperative (co-op for short) program was where students would spend time working in a real job while still in school in order to gain real world experience before graduating and starting to work full time. It was like being an intern. I had co-oped here in the Shoals for a total of three semesters. At the end of my final co-op period, which was at the end of 1976, I was ready to return home to Louisville, KY. My parents had been visiting family for Christmas about 70 miles away, so came over to help me carry all my stuff back.

It was New Year’s Eve, and there had recently been a big snow in the area. However, all the roads were clear and it was a sunny day, so it seemed to be a perfect time to drive home. We were driving east on US 72, with my dad in the lead, approaching Second Creek. Those of you familiar with this location will know that there is a rather steep downwards hill to the creek.

Dad had just crested the top of the hill before heading downwards when I saw his brake lights come on. Just as I was about to tap my brakes I crested the hill and saw a state trooper car at the bottom of the hill in the median with its lights blinking. I immediately assumed there was an accident ahead. I put my foot on the brake pedal and within a second or two I found myself spinning. The whole car was rotating as it slid down the hill. I was so disoriented, I didn’t really comprehend what was happening until later.

My dad later told me that he saw me in his rearview mirror and said to my mom, “Well, would you look at Randy spinning down the hill.” My mom turned around to look and then became hysterical. Dad told me that I spun around at least six times.

Well, as you might have guessed, there was ice on the road. The downhill slope was in the shade, so the sun had not been able to melt it away. Fortunately my dad noticed the ice just before he ran over it and let his foot off the brake. I was not so fortunate. With the combination of seeing my dad’s brake lights and the state trooper’s lights, I had run over the ice before I noticed it.

Anyway, after six-plus spins down the hill, I came to a stop. Surprisingly, I was still in my own lane, but facing backwards. I saw another vehicle heading down the hill in the other lane and at first was concerned that he would lose control and run into me. But he didn’t. He kept a steady pace and passed me by safely.

After just sitting there for a while attempting to recover from my dizziness, I slowly proceeded to turn the car around and head on down the rest of the hill. As it turned out, there was no accident at the bottom as I had suspected. The state trooper had his car in the median with the lights blinking. The trooper himself was leaning against his car with his hat and sunglasses on. I felt a bit embarrassed by what had happened to me, so I rolled my window down and said to the trooper as I passed him, “It’s kinda rough through here.”

The trooper didn’t respond in any way. He just stood there staring at me with no change in his facial expression, which was stone-faced. Even though I couldn’t see his eyes behind the sunglasses, I could feel his stare shooting through me. I just rolled my window up and kept driving. Dad had stopped on the land bridge over the creek and was waiting. I pulled up beside him and we quickly discussed whether or not we should try to make it all the way to Louisville since some of the roads were obviously not clear of ice yet. We decided to drive over to an aunt and uncle’s house and spend the night instead. The next day, New Year’s Day, we made our way safely on to Louisville.

For the next few days, I thought about this incident often. I was amazed that my car had stayed in its own lane while spinning down the hill rather than sliding off the road. However that happened, I was thankful. But then I began to wonder why the state trooper had been at the bottom of the hill with his emergency lights blinking when there was no accident. I originally thought he was there to warn other drivers of the ice on the road, but then realized that that made no sense. It would have been better for him to station himself at the top of the hill so as to slow down traffic before getting to the ice. When I realized this, I began to get a bit angry at the trooper. But then I realized that perhaps he had slid down the hill as well and had ended up in the median and was waiting for assistance when I showed up. I like to give people the benefit of a doubt, so I’ll go with that scenario.

Friday, March 4, 2016

It Was An Accident: Part 7 – Two Careless Young Men

In this post, I’m going to talk about two similar incidents that took place several years apart.

Many years ago I was driving over to a friend’s house. It was after dark and I was driving down Cox Creek Parkway in front of Regency Square Mall (now Florence Mall). As I was passing by one of the entrances to the mall, a young man decided to run a red light and pull out from the mall parking lot right in front of me. I hit my brakes, but was not able to completely stop before hitting him. “Oh, great,” I thought, “Now I’m going to be late getting to my friend’s house.”

I got out of my car as did the young man. He immediately began begging for mercy, saying he just couldn’t have this accident on his record. I have no idea what other accidents he had caused, but he obviously didn’t want yet another one on his record. If I’d been smart, I’d have extorted some money from him to keep the accident on the hush-hush. But, NoooOOOOOooooOOOO! I didn’t do that. I looked at the damage to my car and realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was a bit torn about it, but I ultimately decided to let it slide. I told him he could go. He began thanking me over and over, almost groveling. I was afraid he was going to bow down and kiss my feet or something. Apparently he wasn’t lying when he said he REALLY didn’t want this accident on his record.

So, the young man went on his way, and I went on to my friend’s house. Unfortunately, the cost to repair the minor damage was somewhat significant. I should have known. Car repair costs can be crazy. But in the end, it didn’t push me into poverty or anything. Hopefully, I made the right decision as regards the young careless driver.

A few years later my family and I were headed into downtown Florence for Sunday dinner after church. It was a misty day. One of those type of days where the streets get damp and the oil comes to the surface just enough to make them very slippery. I had just stopped at a stop sign when I heard the familiar sound of brakes squealing and tires skidding coming from behind me. I knew what was about to happen. THUNK! I was right. I was rear-ended. Fortunately, the bump was only minor. He had apparently slowed down enough to prevent a BAM!

I got out of my car as did the young man. And once again I was greeted by someone asking for leniency. This man didn’t seem quite as desperate as the one I mentioned earlier, but still he didn’t want to get the authorities involved. This time I had experience behind me. I knew the cost of repairs could be significant even with minor damage. However, upon looking at my bumper, I really didn’t see much of anything. Just a small dent. So, once again I told this young man he could go. But this time I didn’t even attempt to have any repairs done. I guess that’s one advantage to having an older car. A small dent doesn’t really bother you. Had I just drove that car off a lot new, I probably would have been pissed.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Ken Ham on Jeopardy

Alex Trebek: And now the Final Jeopardy category, Geology.  Place your wagers contestants. We’ll be right back after this message.


Alex Trebek: Alright contestants, it’s time for your Final Jeopardy answer. [DING] This popular geological area located in the United States and extensively photographed by Ansel Adams began its formation 25 million years ago with the uplifting of lowlands and then began being carved out by glacial activity about 2 to 3 million years ago. Good luck players!

[Jeopardy Ditty Music]

Alex Trebek: The clue about Ansel Adams was a key to this one. Our contestant with the lowest total is Ken Ham. Ken, what did you say?

Ken Ham’s Answer Card: What is Nowhere?

Alex Trebek: No, I’m sorry. That’s incorrect. How much did you wager?

Ken Ham: Wait a minute. That was a trick question. The Earth was formed by God just 6000 years ago, so no such place exists that formed millions of years ago.

Alex Trebek: That’s not what our researchers concluded.

Ken Ham: Well, then, your researchers are trying to undermine the authority of Scripture. God was there when he created the Earth and he gives us eyewitness testimony that the Earth is only 6000 years old.

Alex Trebek: We have to base our answers on the prevailing scientific wisdom of the day. Sorry!

Ken Ham: But the Earth is only 6000 years old, I tell you. Repent. All of you!

Alex Trebek: Security! Can you escort this man out of the studio?

Ken Ham (while being escorting out): But you’re wrong! The scientists are all atheists! They don’t know what they are talking about!

Donald Trump (from the audience): That’s it! Throw the bum out in the cold. Don’t even give him his coat back.