9 November 1973

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It all began en route to my Community College; in the thick of the Friday, 8:45 a.m., rush-hour traffic; the light snowfall just beginning to taper off.

My still harboring those typical, teenager delusions of invincibility and immortality, I kept on paying way too much attention to the radio’s progressive rock and too little to my speedometer; kept soldiering onward while downplaying the severity of the storm; not noticing how road conditions were deteriorating with each passing minute and mile.

That all dramatically changed upon my arrival at the US-23 overpass, where a not readily visible, thin layer of ice had turned that short stretch of highway into a skating rink.

Sensing the classic fishtailing motions, I panicked and over-corrected, which only made matters worse. While both my mind and car were beginning to spin out of control, barreling down on me was the sea of oncoming headlights. And, leading that vehicular “parade” was a massive, take no prisoners, 18-wheeler.

I believe it was my last minute serendipitous tug on the steering wheel; my metaphorical Hail Mary, last ditch effort (accompanied by the literal prayer), which wound up preventing my crossing over the center line. BUT, the wild ride was far from over.

What happened next, only a veteran Hollywood stunt driver could’ve pulled off in “one take” for his/her film director. I know I’d have been jaw dropping stunned had I been able to see the aerial view of that four wheeled choreography; which by journey’s end found me jumping the curb and coming to rest neatly perpendicular “parked” between two, closely spaced road signs.

Well, with my level of adrenaline ebbing, the incredibility of it all gradually began to sink in; no head on with that semi tractor-trailer rig; all the other drivers and their vehicles totally unscathed; my own emergence from that scene with nary a scratch to either my flesh and blood or vehicle’s metallic body. In a word, WOW!

The other drivers, out of consideration for me (or, perhaps, out of fear that I’d execute some further boneheaded driving) had all brought their vehicles to a dead stop, affording me time to shift into reverse and get back onto the highway.

Albeit with frayed nerves, bruised ego and my car’s newly acquired, minor front-end wheel alignment (shimmying) issues, I did make it to my 9 a.m. class, safe and unsound; a scant five minutes late.

Now, to tie up a few of my harrowing tale’s loose ends…

  • Seeing how I had no sooner resumed my commute than gleaming sunbeams began breaking thru the dark blue/grey cloud deck and (British Band) Badfinger’s “Carry On Till Tomorrow” began tracking, crackling thru the car radio static, I could not help but instantly compare Pete Ham’s and Tom Evans’ lyrical sentiments to a pep talk; one laden with encouraging words to Carry On even when the situation, at hand, seems to be hopeless.
  • By day’s end, came the more heightened sense that I may have even been communing with my Maker, who also wanted me to Carry On Till Tomorrow; to all the tomorrows ahead; inclusive of this 48th anniversary of my, so far, first and only, actual scrape with death.
  • Considering how my driving skills that bygone November morn had been so lousy, applying both a religious and secular spin was inevitable. It had either been the Big Guy, above, or Lady Luck (maybe both) who had saved my very life. Naturally, that preceding statement’s sentence structure revealing to whom I’m giving top billing.
  • And, none of this is hyperbole.
  • After all, November 9, 1973 could’ve easily been chiseled beneath my own tombstone’s D.O.B.

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

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Happy 46th Second Birthday to Me

 

“Eons” ago, on this very day, I was en route to my 20 kilometers / 12.5 miles distant Community College to attend my Friday broadcasting classes. Wintry precipitation was slightly complicating the flow of 8:45 a.m. rush-hour traffic.

Still harboring those foolish, “I’m invincible and immortal” delusions (like most teens do)… I didn’t deem this minor snowfall worthy of much concern.

Paying far more attention to my FM radio’s rock tunes than to my speedometer, I didn’t realize that the road conditions were deteriorating with each passing minute and mile. My collision with reality occurred upon my arrival at a freeway overpass, where a thin layer of ice had repurposed that bridge into a skating rink.

Starting to fishtail, I panicked and slammed on the brakes. As if that error hadn’t sufficiently complicated matters, there was also the prospect of the sea of oncoming headlights. Worse yet, leading that vehicular “parade” was a massive, take no prisoners, 18-wheeler.

To this very day, I still cannot fully recall the precise details to what turned out to be my “Hail Mary” / last ditch steering maneuver. Indeed, long before I had rattled off, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen,” something truly astounding occurred. Somehow, someway, I wound up back in my lane. Jumping the curb, I was now neatly “perpendicular parked” between two, closely spaced road signs.

Hell, only a veteran Hollywood stunt driver could’ve pulled that off in one “take”.

As my adrenaline level gradually ebbed, I realized [1] I had totally avoided a fatal head on crash, [2] all the other drivers, in the vicinity, were also totally unscathed and [3] I had emerged with nary a scratch to either my own body or my car’s.

The other motorists, out of consideration (or perhaps out of fear that I’d demonstrate some further boneheaded driving) had all brought their vehicles to a dead halt and were actually patiently waiting for me to shift into reverse to get back onto the highway.

Reentering the morning commute, with my newfound, heightened respect for the slippery conditions, the first song the FM DJ played was the aptly titled, inspirational Carry On Till Tomorrow.

Albeit with frayed nerves, bruised ego and my vehicle’s newly acquired, minor front-end wheel alignment problems, I did make it to my 9 a.m. class… mere minutes late.

Only after class, did the full impact of that morning’s events begin to fully sink in. This had been my first, ever, brush with death. If it hadn’t been dumb luck that had spared my life, who did? Whose hands, just in the nick of time, had guided my own on the steering wheel?

Had I collided my Chevy Nova with that massive gravel hauling truck, at the very least, I’d have come up with a whole new meaning to the phrase, “compact car”. At the very worst…

My tombstone’s date of death would’ve read November 9, 1973.