Every time you take to the road
December 6, 2003
Every time we get behind the wheel, take a breath, or spend the night at Michael Jackson’s place, we risk accidents, disease or catching something that might make us itch.
There is an old joke: “I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather, not yelling and screaming like the people in the bus he was driving.”
Of course, the best case scenario would be to live to a ripe old age. Far too often, lives are cut unnaturally short by illness or accidents.
Last Sunday it might have been me.
I was driving to host a morning radio show on a Denver station. The roads in the mountains were of the packed powder variety. By the time I reached the Front Range, the driving seemed better. It wasn’t.
Traffic was light, the interstate was recently plowed. I was relieved to have left the mountain conditions behind me. Regrettably, I mistook black ice for black top. The speedometer read 10 miles below the speed limit, but I was passing lots of vehicles. I had just muttered to myself “these Front Rangers get all paranoid over a little snow” when my truck began to shimmy. The shimmy turned into a fishtail. The fishtail evolved into a multiple 360s.
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I found myself spinning out of control at 55 miles an hour. Every time I revolved I could look back and see those who I had just passed but now coming straight for me.
When my truck hit the median strip going backward, I felt a sense of comfort to be off the road. When my truck entered the other side of the highway, heading in the wrong direction, my relief vanished.
Through it all I tried steering into the skid and pumping my brakes. Both activities did little other than give my hands and feet something to do while my mouth was screaming. Luckily, I spent only a few seconds going backwards the wrong way in the wrong lane before I entered the median strip once again and came to a halt.
I looked around to see if I had caused anyone else to suffer a similar fate. Thank heavens I hadn’t.
I sat there in the median for a few minutes to allow my heart to start beating again. I put it into four-wheel low and eased back on the highway, now heading in the opposite direction. I got off at the next exit, and called my wife.
Some say that when faced with death, they have seen their past flash before their eyes. For me it was just the opposite, I saw my future. I saw my wife’s face when she heard the news. I saw friends saying, “How could that happen to him? He drives slower than anyone I know.” I saw my dog rolling in poop to grieve the fact that I would no longer take him for a walk every morning at 6:30 a.m.
My buddy says that I now have a karma debt. He contends that any time God, or fate steps in and saves your butt, you have to be nice for awhile to pay back. He says you can store up your good karma to be used when you need it.
Every car my mother owned had a St. Christopher medal stuck to the dash. My mum believed that a holy plastic idol could counteract her poor vision and terrible driving. I wish it were that simple.
I’d love to believe that there is something we can do other then to be careful that would protect us. I think the cold hard truth is that we’d all be better off appreciating our blessings then expecting divine intervention. Bad things happen to good people, and some bad people have their own weekly columns. You should be nice to people for the same reason you worship God – not to be protected, but because it makes you feel good.
I was buzzing with my good fortune the rest of the day. The sky seemed bluer, the air smelled more fresh. I told my longtime radio partner, Jon, that I loved him.
He told me I was giving him the creeps. He suggested I get a grip on myself because we were going live in 30 seconds. I tried to give him a hug.
When I arrived home that afternoon, I informed my wife in greater detail about my near miss. When we embraced, I felt her shudder. She said that if anything were to happen to either of us, she hoped it would be her, because she wouldn’t want to live without me.
I told her I felt the same way. If anything were to happen to either of us, I also hoped it would be her. She punched me in the stomach then gave me a kiss. It felt good to be alive.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of “Biff America,” can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA radio, and read in several mountain publications. He lives in Breckenridge. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org