The sound of a tree falling in a forest is puzzle enough, but if you’re alone in your truck in a snowstorm on a deserted country road at night, sliding backward down an icy hill, does anyone hear you? As I struggled to miss the ditch, malicious imps reached out from the darkness, gleefully shoving my truck.
“Hey!” I yelled. “Cut that out! Whose truck is this, anyway?”
Well, maybe not imps; more like gravity lubricated by a sheet of ice and my stupidity in tackling that slippery hill. Like swimmers against the current, my truck and I slowed our backward slide; but, slide we did, inch by inch. While I considered how this might end, my family back in Buffalo was getting worried. They called a neighbor near my destination.
“Annette, can you tell if he’s there yet? Any lights up there? He’s in that storm, six hours overdue, doesn’t even have a cellphone!”
“Can’t see through the snow,” Annette said. “I’ll go take look.” She bundled up and trudged through the storm.
“Nope,” Annette telephoned later. “Not here yet.”
They decided to call the police.
“Nobody like that in any accident,” the dispatcher said. “I’ll broadcast an alert for an old man in a blue Ford pickup. Prob’ly down in some ditch someplace. We’ll find him.” That was supposed to be reassuring.
Meanwhile, back in the truck, I saw headlights inching up the hill, doing well until the driver stopped to help me and slid into the ditch.
“Stuff happens,” he shrugged. He telephoned his friends for help, not even blaming me. We waited – his truck solidly in the ditch, mine continuing its slow slide.
Six big country fullbacks showed up, ready for adventure.
“We’re gonna push your truck around so’s you’re headed downhill,” they said cheerfully. “Then, take ’er easy, and go on down.”
Pushing on my left front fender while I, as instructed, kept the wheels hard left and a light acceleration to control the slide, they slowly shoved the truck in a 180-degree arc across the top of the hill, my front wheels missing the ditch by a good inch.
“Yahoo!” they yelled, as I skidded down to safety in the flatlands. Reaching a phone I called home.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “The truck’s OK.”
“The truck?” my wife shouted, not believing she had heard me correctly. “You call after six hours to tell me the truck’s OK?”
People do stupid things. Tackling that hill resulted in a good man going into the ditch; strain for his friends; hours of worry for my family; Annette’s frigid walk; and, with the police alert, I was a wanted man. How can one person cause so much mischief?
Maybe it’s the macho pride of the male Buffalonian, not quite grown up, rugged men of the North and all that. I think we secretly relish surviving wild weather and backward slides in uncontrolled vehicles, adventures that would wither those snowless wimps in California or South Jersey. I suspect there’s a moral here somewhere. Maybe two.
The next day all was well driving back to Buffalo on a clear Thruway, until a trooper pulled me over.
“Well, well,” he said, leaning in my open window. “You must be that old guy in the blue Ford pickup we been looking for all night!”
Actually, no trooper pulled me over. I just made that up. But I am a little nervous now, driving the Thruway, fearing that a state trooper might still be on the lookout for “that old guy in the blue Ford pickup.”