I’ve heard that bad luck comes in threes. For example, if your cat Fluffy dies an untimely death, then, you will have two other kinds of bad to follow.
I have never taken too much stock in this superstition, but last week was the kind of week that just may make me a believer. Yup…Doug’s got a tale to tell!!!
Last Thursday, I was working at home…totally absorbed in what I was doing…when my cell phone rang and I heard the familiar ringtone for my twenty-one year old son, Nick. I talk to Nick often, so it was no big surprise that he was calling.
Do you know how parents just know when something is wrong with their child – no matter how old they are? I had that feeling before I even heard Nick’s voice on the phone.
As soon as he did speak, I was positive that something bad had happened. Sure enough, Nick had been in an accident in his work truck. Nick installs cable, so he is on the road driving all day long. Another driver making a left hand turn in the intersection hit him head on as he was going through the intersection.
Of course, I immediately felt my adrenaline start to rush through my veins. I began to consider all of the possible scenarios and ramifications of him having an accident. Was he all right? Was the accident his fault? What would that mean to his job if he was at fault? How bad was his truck damaged? How much would it cost to repair? You know – all the usual questions…
While I had Nick on the phone, I could tell that he was downplaying the situation. In fact, he sounded quite a bit like he was in shock.
Sure enough, when I arrived at the scene of the accident, I was amazed that Nick had survived the crash. The entire front end of his truck was crushed all the way into the driver’s side of the cab. The truck was a total loss.
Nick was walking and talking. His leg hurt and it looked as if he may have broken nose. I took him to the hospital rather than in the ambulance. We were in the emergency room for several hours listening to Spanish and broken English. Why? I have no idea why there were so many Spanish speakers there, but it just added to the surreal situation in which I had found myself that day. It was almost dreamlike.
Each member of the family arrived one by one or in small groups. So, I had to repeat what had happened to Nick over and over again.
Nick had called his wife, Cayce and she had come to the scene of the accident. It was difficult to see the fear on her face as she looked at the totaled truck and as she looked at her husband for signs of injury.
The previous morning, I had heard on the news about a fatal accident. I had thought to myself, “How terrible that in a few minutes, someone will have a Highway Patrolman on their doorstep to give them the devastating news that would change their lives forever. Nick and our family were very lucky –even though it was bad luck that he had been in an accident.
When the crisis was over, I was relieved and had a grateful heart that, “all’s well that ends well.” That thought was short-lived.
A couple of days after Nick’s accident, I was driving my old van on the freeway. My destination was about an hour and a half away.
I had my nine year old daughter, Kenna with me. We were having a nice drive together – and then, without warning – my tire blew out! When it blew, the van immediately began to bounce and heave violently. We came very close to rolling – as we had been traveling at about seventy to seventy-five miles per hour.
The look on my daughter’s face, and her screaming in fear, and grabbing for me was difficult to deal with. It took me a while to calm her down after I had safely pulled over to the emergency shoulder of the road.
As the fast-paced traffic continued to whiz by the van, I told Kenna that everything was going to be alright – that I just needed to change the tire. Then, we would be on our way again.
She looked at me as if I was absolutely crazy to even talk about continuing to drive in our possessed vehicle. I must admit, I was pretty shaken and rattled myself – Literally!!
As I stepped out onto the pavement, I noticed the large black skid-mark that the van had made while I was trying to control it as it pulled left and right and I wrestled with the brake and the steering wheel to gain control. A big black mark to show what had happened. How many times had I seen this kind of mark on the road and wondered who had made it and if they were in a terrible accident as they skidded across the freeway? Now, the mark was mine. I wanted to hurl!
I composed myself and quickly took a picture of the black skid-mark with my cell phone. Then, I began the process of changing my blown out tire.
“This will be no big deal!” I had thought to myself. I went through the process that I had learned way back long ago in driver’s education at Roy High School. (Yes, they had cars back then children.) “I’ve changed tires before. I’ll be on the road again in no time.” I affirmed in my mind.
I hopped back in the van when I was done and assured Kenna that all would be okay. I was very close to my destination when the blow out occurred. I knew when I arrived I would have a legitimate reason for being late and a good story to tell – with pictures!
After our visit, Kenna and I jumped back into our beast of a van and started heading back home. We hadn’t been on the road for very long before I could feel that the beast was riding very rough. “What now?” I thought.
Then it happened – No, not another blown out tire! – The entire wheel came right off and flew to the side of the road while we continued going forward. Poor Kenna! She must have thought her dad was trying to kill both of us as we almost rolled over in the old van for the second time in one day.
It was now after ten o’clock at night. I called a tow truck to take the van. I called my son Jeremy to pick us up.
Now the van is in a repair shop and will cost me $279 to fix. I am driving a small rental car. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’ll admit to you that I was at fault for not fastened and tightening the lug nuts well enough. As embarrassing as it was, I went back to the freeway the next day to find my wheel and save a little money on the cost of repair.
One piece of luck I had was that I did find the wheel. But, of course, the biggest piece of luck was that my family did not have a highway patrolman on their doorstep telling them that two members of their family were gone. Whew! What a relief!
After those two close calls, one would think that the drama was over. Not in the crazy and unpredictable world of Doug Johnston. Oh no!!!
Just a few short days later I received a call from another son, Riley. Riley had been saving all summer long to purchase a car when it was time to go back to school in the fall for his junior year.
Riley was thrilled with his new car. I was proud of him for earning the money for it and pleased to see the joy of him getting his first car. I remember that feeling from when I was sixteen and purchased my little red ride – a VW Beetle – What great times I had in my bug!
Riley had not owned the car for more than two weeks when he was traveling on the winding road of the Ogden Canyon and a deer ran right out in front of his car. Riley had a quick decision to make of two awful choices – a true dilemma. He could hit the deer – risking killing or hurting both him and the deer or swerve to miss the deer and take his chances. Of course, he chose the latter. He avoided hitting the deer but as he swerved to miss it, he lost control of his new most prized possession. He crashed onto the side of the canyon road. His front bumper was destroyed and the front end of his new car was damaged.
Once again, I realized – and I believe Riley did too – how quickly things can change and how lucky we were that nothing more than property was severely hurt. It could have been so much more tragic.
He will earn the money he needs to fix his car and in the mean time I will be his chauffeur in my rental car or Nick will drive him in his borrowed truck from work.
I truly hope that our bad luck on the road has come to an end at three because we are running out of our own vehicles fast!!
Even though I had experienced these three moments of bad luck, I know at the same time how they were also three moments of good luck. All four lives had been spared and that is pretty good odds. Three times we had been close to disaster and all three times we had come out unharmed even though our poor vehicles had not.
Someday maybe I will know the reason why we were all graced with good luck when we faced such bad luck. And hey – thinking positively – I think it may just be time for a new car! I think poor Kenna will be truly grateful for that bit of good news!