On Christmas day at 6:30 am some nutso domestic terrorist detonated a car bomb in downtown Nashville. An RV bomb is more accurate. The RV is the cover photo for this post. There were three injuries and no loss of life (bomber doesn’t count) but millions of dollars in damages and probably a total loss of some historic properties that won’t be replaced. A terrible event that could have been much worse.
I mention this event for posterity and also to contrast and compare with the events I’m about to share so that in hindsight they will seem not-so-bad and even comical.
So a few stories back we established the fact that Papaw is an immortal anomaly who haunts the dreams of OSHA inspectors every night. (Occupational Safety and Health Administration for my overseas friends) OSHA makes the recommendations to not stand above a certain height on a ladder or to wear safety glasses. Those kinds of things. Things that are too cumbersome for a man on Papaw’s schedule.
No sir. This board has to be cut on this table saw immediately. Who has time for safety glasses or hearing protection or even proper wiring. Not Papaw. Safety third.
The other day I had a very Papaw-esque encounter and I just found it too fun not to share.
Papaw: (calling on the cell phone) Hey can you give me a ride home from work?
UD: Sure, what’s up?
Papaw: Ahhh, my truck’s got a flat tire and I had to park it and Mamaw had to bring me to work.
UD: Okay. No problem. I can be there in just a little bit. Say, I thought you had an air tank that you carried on the truck?
Papaw: Well… the tire is pretty damaged. And I lost the spare. And my extra gas can.
UD: Hmmm. That sounds like one hell of a flat tire. Did it explode or something?
Papaw: Yeah, I hit something and tore my tire all to pieces and I it knocked some stuff off the truck.
UD: Oh wow. What did you hit? A deer?
Papaw: I don’t know. I ran off the road a little and hit something hard but I didn’t see anything.
UD: Did you stop.
Papaw: No, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal but then my tire went flat.
UD: Did you look at the truck once you got stopped?
Papaw: Yeah something red on the bumper and down the right side.
UD: Jesus. Was it blood? Did you hit a person? Am I an accomplice to a crime?
Papaw: No, no, its paint from something.
UD: Something?! That could be anything! Was it a kid named Timmy in a little red wagon? (It was nearly midnight so this option was doubtful but I was concerned.)
Papaw: I don’t know son. *exasperated sigh* I’ll have to go and see after work.
UD: How did you not see something? Did you fall asleep?
Papaw: My window was frosted.
UD: Did you not wait for it to defrost?
Papaw: Well I did but the wipers don’t work on the left side (driver’s side) so it was blurry and I just ran off the road a little because I couldn’t tell where the edge was. It was just a mailbox or something.
UD: Okay. But you know that could’ve been little Timmy in a red wagon.
Papaw: But it wasn’t.
UD: But… it wasn’t.
This is peak Papaw.
A chain of preventable events that are sacrificed on the altar of getting something done. In this case, it was “not being late to work so the other guy doesn’t have to work longer.” Epic self-sacrifice to avoid creating inconvenience. If he was in the military he would have been the guy jumping on the grenade or fending off an attack after getting shot thirty times. This is the core of his being and I love it about him but sometimes it manifests in hilarious ways.
So fast forward and I’ve picked him up from work and carried him home. We passed the scene of the events and there wasn’t much to see. Some scattered debris and a couple of posts where mailboxes and something else used to stand proud at the edge of the road.
I dropped him off and started back home but slowed down on this pass to get a better look.
That is when I see the entire grill off the front of the truck, a crumpled light pole with a red cast iron base sheared out of a concrete footing, and two innocent mailboxes scattered into the forest. Someone had stopped and snagged the gas can. The giant spare tire is laying in the grass about twenty feet past the truck grill.
It looks like the Roswell crash site. I can only imagine the explosive force required to dismantle all of these things and to further imagine that he drove three miles before thinking “that tire feels a little flat, better not drive on it” just makes my day.
This is a smart man. A strategic man. A thoughtful man. But as a mechanic, he has the idea that cars are disposable and anything mechanical can be stitched back together with enough bailing wire and curse words.
And he isn’t wrong but damn. My candy ass hits a pothole too hard and I’m sick to my stomach over a disrupted wheel alignment and uneven tire wear. I have a lot to learn.
For those of you wondering. He did go back and replace the mailboxes because he is a stand-up guy. He kept the light pole base because childhood poverty taught him that hoarding is necessary for survival. It will live in the pile of old truck toolboxes until the price of scrap metal rises or he passes it to his children in his will. The victimized truck will live to threaten more mailboxes. I guess its just another ongoing case of vehicular homicide. You’re welcome. And Happy NEW YEAR!
-Underdaddy to the rescue.