I was heading up to Mammoth from LA last season. Since I was just heading up myself, and my driving turns to sleeping in about an hour, I decided to look into the ride share forum. I met some guys in a forum who were looking for a ride share, and after some trepidation and email exchanges, I decided to give it a go. As it turns out, one of the guys was a guy I played baseball with in college, but whom I haven’t seen since. So far, so good.
I volunteered the use of my car, as long as I would have minimal driving duty. I had just gotten a Lexus 4WD SUV, and I was looking forward to checking out its performance in what was promised to be epic snow. After picking everyone up at our designated meeting point, we headed up I5 on our merry way. If wasn’t long before we heard a distinct “thud” coming from the top of the car. I looked quizzically at the guy driving and said, “That can’t be good.” We pulled over and discovered that our entire ski rack had somehow flown off the rails. Not only did I lose my skis and board, but the other guys lost their equipment as well. On top of that, my new car now had racing stripes down the top of the roof, and the rear spoiler was, well, spoiled.
We decided to hang a u turn and double back to see if we could salvage any of the equipment. We came upon the yard sale debris scattered across all four lanes of the freeway. Since there was equipment laying in the center divider, the driver pulled to the center, and we got out to determine if there was any hope. No luck for the stuff in the center divider, and little chance for the other stuff, I thought. We were thinking of just bailing, but when we saw a passing car almost go sideways trying to avoid the debris, I stupidly decided that I should go and get the stuff out of the way before an accident occurred. You know how you hear on the news about an idiot in the middle of the freeway trying to retrieve a mattress or some such thing? Well, on this particular day, that idiot was me.
So I get a partial rack with a ski still stuck in it out of the first lane. I go to the second lane to get the other part of the rack with a broken snowboard, and two crushed and delaminated ski still in it. I can see the headlights of two approaching cars, but since they are in the slow lane, I decide I have enough buffer to not really worry about them. I guess I was wrong. The first car skids to avoid the stuff in the slow lane. The car behind hits the breaks a bit late and tags the car in front as he’s trying to swerve. Now the second car is coming right at me. I think I screamed like Nathan Lane in Birdcage, and I threw the stuff up in the air and ran like a cartoon character. I saw the car coming right at me, so I dove to the center divider to get out of the way as the car careened towards me. I could hear the car hitting the equipment that I had just thrown, and my only thought was tuck and roll. As I lay in the center divider, I could see that one of my caribou boots had the sole torn off, and a big gash in the leather part of the boot. Another “That can’t be good” thought ran through my head. I turned my head to see a ski laying across the hood of my new car.
I’m laying there motionless (not hurt), just thinking, “Oh, jeez, those guys are going to sue the crap out of me.” They had both stopped a couple hundred yards ahead and were just standing there looking in my direction as I lay in the divider. As my thoughts whirled, “what to do, what to do……” I heard another car skidding into the debris. My only thought at that moment was that I don’t want anyone else suing me, so I hopped up and started to run into the freeway AGAIN to get the other stuff. Luckily, one of my new buddies held me back and wouldn’t let me proceed. I surely didn’t want to be that idiot on the news twice in one day.
The good thing about that, I think, is that when the two guys who were waiting a couple hundred yards ahead after their collision saw me get up, they hurriedly jumped in their cars and took off. I guess they thought I was going to sue them for hitting me. Ok, so we’re even.
So we called CHP and let them deal with it. Back on our way in my new, beat up car, sans skis and boards.
After a few minutes of silently driving, thinking, “What in the hell just happened?”, one of the guys (a 24 year old guy mind you), decided that he was`having a heart attack. I went through all the differential diagnoses with him, and he’s wasn't having a heart attack. I couldn't convince him of that though. He was sure it was a heart attack. I was trying to be supportive during his panic attack, and I kept telling him to take a deep breath, to breathe, and that everything would be alright. I really just wanted to slap him though….just like they do in those old movies.
So the 24 year old guy with the apparently weak ticker decided that he needed to go to the emergency room. Good God, I think to myself. Luckily, I have GPS and the ER is only 20 or so freaking miles out of our way. Once we got to the ER, the staff all agreed that he was simply having an anxiety attack. 24 year old guy still thought it was the big one. Obviously, everyone in the ER gets to go ahead of us, even the nine year old girl with the string bean stuck in her nose. I was quickly losing patience, and since I really didn’t know these guys, I had strong thoughts of just leaving them there to fend for themselves. Hey, I see it happen on ER and Grey’s Anatomy all the time. However, I figured that with a long drive still ahead, and a weekend of high speed activities, I didn’t need any bad karma. We get out of the ER after midnight. Being the eternal optimist, I try to find the good in everything. In this case, I was able to find all the hidden objects in all 7 editions of Highlights.
So we're back on the road, and I’m rearing to go. A cop pulls me over for speeding (104 mph in a 65, 75…..whatever the speed limit is in Podunk). We give him our sob story and beg for leniency, hoping against hope that after all we’ve been through, we certainly would garner some sympathy and not get a speeding ticket……or at least be written up for something manageable. The nice man with the gun says he’ll give me a break, and that would be to not haul my speeding ass into jail, as is protocol for someone going however many miles over the speed limit. Thanks, nice man with the gun. He also writes me up for not having my license plates on yet. Hey, it’s a new car; I guess not that new though. The ticket cost me $495, but at least I didn’t have to spend then night in jail. There goes that nice little Spyder jacket I had my eye on. I guess I will have to work on my begging skills.
I just can’t go on after that (damn, I wasn’t supposed to be driving anyway), so we switch drivers. A couple of minutes into the drive with the new driver, we get pulled over again for speeding. Sob story again, with the same results. My new buddy only gets hit for 84 mph. Wimp! Dejectedly, he trudges on for a while before we switch drivers again. The new guy is determined to keep his speed at 65, and sets the cruise control. All is well, finally, and we decide to lay low until we get to the Piggly Wiggly, or whatever the hell they call that store out there. Anyway, driver #3 passes the Piggly Wiggly, and makes a u turn. You guessed it! We get pulled over again and get another ticket for illegal u turn!! Sob story, lost equipment, damaged car, guy having a heart attack, two previous tickets…we lay it all on the officer, but she’ll have none of if. Ticket #3. Good thing;? this officer was hot. She looked like Heather Locklear in TJ Hooker. No kidding.
So we finally get to Bishop, and they have the roads closed the rest of the way up to Mammoth. There is a line of about a bijillion cars just waiting on the side of the road. Somehow, they allow three vehicles to go through, and one of them was mine. Supposedly, my snow tires and all the other bells and whistles on this new car make it safe for the rest of the journey. Don’t ask me; I still don’t know what all those buttons and knobs are for. I don’t even know if I’m supposed to put the chains on the front wheels, or the back ones. Woohooo! Things are looking up.
We finally get to Mammoth at 8:45, just in time to hit the slopes. I’m skiing; if the other guys want to go back and sleep, go ahead. I’m not missing this incredible powder. So after all that, we were rewarded with probably the most awesome weekend of skiing I can remember. And the best thing? I got to demo every ski they had, and for three days, I demoed just about everything. Can’t get any better than that.
Ok, after reading this, I realize this really isn’t that funny. But I’ve been typing for the last hour, so I’m going to post anyway. Dang! Where is Vlad when you need him? I’ll bet he would be able to inject some humor into this post.