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A Short Trip on a Long Bridge, Part Deux . . .

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When we last left our hero, that would be me. I was in a cab on the way to the Lafayette, LA airport to rent a car. After my Ford Ranger did a RUD, a Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly for you space fans, on the Atchafalaya River Bridge in Louisiana, I had decided to continue my trip to Birmingham to look in on my mother.

While I was waiting for the cab at the wrecker yard, the 2nd wrecker showed up with all my discarded parts. As the two guys piled them into what was left of the truck bed, I realized that there was more parts in the bed than left on the truck.

While I was waiting I managed to find a bottle of aspirin in what was left of the truck’s glove compartment and took a couple. And by the time the cab arrived my headache was gone.

Walking into the airport I found a pay phone and called Jan who was at work. I told her what happened and that I was fine. I said I was going to rent a car and continue on to Birmingham. I also said I wanted her to meet me at the Lafayette airport Sunday afternoon so I could get home. I then called my mother and told her I was going to be a few hours late, but didn’t tell her why since I didn’t want her to worry.

I decided to visit the restroom before heading over to the rental counter and as I was washing my hands I looked into the mirror. And I suddenly knew why people in the airport had been looking at me funny. Well, funnier than usual, I guess.

From the half golf ball-sized lump on my head about an inch behind and two inches above my left ear, blood had flowed down the side of my head and was caked from my ear down onto my collar and had soaked my shirt with a  large red stain.

No wonder people had been looking at me funny. Well, funnier than usual, I guess. But you would have thought that someone, one of the tow truck drivers, or the cab driver, would have said something to me. Thanks a lot, guys.




Using paper towels soaked in warm water, I cleaned off my head and neck as well as I could, and pulled a windbreaker out of my overnight bag that I had grabbed from the remains of the truck to cover my bloody shirt.

The remainder of the trip to Birmingham was uneventful and I managed to conceal my shirt from my mother when I got there. And likewise, my trip back to Lafayette went just as smoothly.

Meeting Jan at the airport we drove back over to the tow yard to retrieve any remaining personal items from the truck, since I was sure that all the king’s soldiers and all the king’s men were not going to be able to put it back together again. Or anybody else, for that matter.

When we got to the yard and saw the truck, Jan said her knees got weak and she felt faint.

Me too.

It was easy to see that the frame was cracked open and the body was bent in a slight U shape. The rear axle was gone, as was the tailgate, bumper, and the right rear part of the truck bed. The windshield and the rear window were both cracked as was the passenger side window. And walking around to the other side the right front wheel was broken and tilting at a 45° angle.

Two weeks later, I got the check from the insurance company and went right out and bought a new Ford Ranger, this time a new 1994 Ford Ranger Crew Cab 4 Door. I figured that since the first one held together long enough to keep me in one piece, another one was in order. And I guess that I had gotten a really good deal on the 1992 since my insurance payout, based on book value, was only $200 less than I paid for it new two years before.

And every time I’ve driven over the Atchafalaya Bridge since then, I always glance over at the spot where I almost became gator food. The scars are still visible on the concrete guard rail.

As Jan has said many times, it’s a miracle I’m still alive.

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In that vein, maybe next time I’ll relate the tale of my best friend and I, and our homemade airboat, involving a old VW engine, an Army surplus propeller, and a leaky rowboat with a rotten transom.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like trapped inside a Cuisinart?




Thought for the Day:

I know the voices aren’t real, but they come up with some great ideas.

  ghdgh

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4 Responses to A Short Trip on a Long Bridge, Part Deux . . .

  1. Elizabeth says:

    You indeed are a walking miracle, Greg!!  You too had a guardian angel holding you together…wow, did you!!  Thanks for sharing this part of your life…one you would have preferred not to have had happen no doubt.  I am so surprised you continued to drive over that bridge…I would have found another way to go!!

    • gregwhite says:

      Elizabeth,

      If I had to avoid the things that have tried to kill me. I’s stay at home hiding under the bed.

      Greg

  2. Davy says:

    Great story, Greg! What a ride! No pictures of the truck remains?

    I have a friend that has lived an hour from that bridge all his life and refuses to drive it. Now I know why.

    Davy

     

    • gregwhite says:

      Davy,

      Nope, no photos. Our phones back then didn’t have cameras, and I didn’t think to tell Jan to bring one when she came to pick me up.

      Good to hear from you.

      Keep in touch.

      Greg

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