Imagine you get up on a cold Saturday morning just before Thanksgiving. You own a Subway franchise a few counties away from where you live in Des Moines, Iowa and you have given yourself the task of sweeping up the parking lot this morning. You don warm outerwear and warm up your ride, a 1999 Chevy pickup.
It is still dark out at about 0545 and Interstate 80 is lightly traveled. You putter down the right lane, checking your watch, yawning and trying to keep it together while you travel to your business.
Before you know it your right tires have drifted ever so slightly on to the shoulder where there is packed ice masquerading as snow and in the blink of an eye the back of your truck swings wildly to the right, then back hard to the left forcing the front end off the road to the right. The pickup is now skidding completely and you have no control whatsoever.
Since you have just skidded into the ice alongside the road at first this isn’t much of a problem but all too soon your pickup, now angling away from the road almost 90 degrees, catches the first patch of dirt and grass that isn’t frozen and your tires start to bite. Worse, this patch of road runs alongside a steep drop-off of about thirty feet into the fields of some farmer below. Your pickup launches off the road and into the field, yet somehow manages to not tumble until the very end where it ends up on the driver’s side almost perfectly vertical.
It turns out I was minding my business about a quarter mile behind this pickup this morning and dimly saw the vehicle violently whip off the road to the right. I had enough distance to brake safely and come to a stop where he went airborne and saw the pickup on its side about thirty feet below and seventy or eighty feet off the roadway. A quick call to 911 and I fumbled some new D-cell batteries into my good flashlight and I set off to see if anyone survived.
It took a while to make it safely through the tall, icy grass and down the slope to where the wreck lay. Eventually, I made it around to the top of the pickup (the bottom was facing the road) and saw that the lone occupant was standing on his driver’s window, conscious and alert. We talked through his windshield (miraculously unbroken, as was every other window on his pickup, though both mirrors were toast) briefly then he popped open the now-vertical passenger door and boosted himself out. He gave his truck a once-over then followed me up to my truck, which had the virtue of being warm and dry.
Turns out, Jody was off that morning to neaten up the parking lot of his franchise as I described above. We chatted for a while until the state troopers arrived (they were busy, as it turns out) then I bid farewell and rejoined the traffic flow.
Believe it or not, there wasn’t a scratch on him.
A few hundred miles later, I arrived at the Tyson plant in Ottawa, Illinois. I dropped my full trailer there, shuttled an empty down the street to the Petsmart DC then bobtailed in towards Chicago to our drop yard for a load of chicken heading down to Batesville, Arkansas for 0400 Monday morning.
Tonight I find myself at the Pilot truck stop in Bloomington, Illinois. I had some fast food from Wendy’s, a shower, then on impulse I bought a couple Mega Millions tickets. Karma can be a strange thing.