This morning started out like any other day. The rain that fell for most of the previous day had subsided and the sun was expected to shine. The roads were dry and commuters were sparse. I was so proud of myself for making good time. I left home later than I should to have made it to work on-time, but because of minimal traffic on Foothill Drive I was on-track for a prompt arrival at the Medical Examiner‘s Office. My 15-year-old Jeep behaved as usual – which is mostly good – until about half a mile from work. Suddenly, and without warning my Jeep died. The medical examiner’s differential diagnosis for cause of death might have been natural causes incident to age and my truck probably wouldn’t have required an autopsy. But I knew the prognosis wasn’t grim. I knew I could save my beloved Cherokee, so I called my wife to arrange an appointment with a service station and a tow truck – stat.
She called our Allstate motor club to bail me out with a tow truck to haul my sick truck to the truck doctor. I remained with my vehicle while I waited for the tow truck to arrive just in case it was spotted by campus police and perhaps towed for obstructing traffic thus turning my bad luck into even worse luck.
Several co-workers spotted me while I waited and stopped to offer assistance since their path to work also crossed mine. (By the way, thank you, Annie, for the Diet Coke.) I later remarked to my wife how sweet it was for them to stop. Thanks Shannon, Sarah, and Ann.
I told the tow truck driver that this couldn’t have happened on a better day. I admitted that I was a bit superstitious. I enjoy reading my daily horoscope and I take the fortunes in Chinese fortune cookies to heart. I enjoyed a 15 min. truck cab conversation about death and the seemingly pointless necessity we [speaking ubiquitously] feel for making dead people look natural through the process of embalming. We finally agreed that some people need to see their loved ones lying, in my opinion, “unnaturally” in caskets in order to provide closure to their feelings of loss. Personally, I prefer donation of all available tissue then cremation of the rest of me. He agreed that cremation was sensible.
My new acquaintance informed me that the company he worked for used to pick up vehicles for law enforcement. Some of the vehicles were from death scenes where people were found dead in their vehicles by all manners of death-mostly suicide. I asked him what became of the vehicles. I was surprised to hear that many of the vehicles were auctioned-off to unsuspecting citizens. He also told me that the one’s that couldn’t sell due to the residual stench of decomposition were shredded and sold for scrap. Conversations regarding death seem to follow me. I wonder why.
Four hours and three hundred dollars later I was back on the road, but not yet back to work and not with my vehicle. My busy but patient wife had to drive me to my office to pick up my wallet so I could pay for the repairs as I had left my wallet in my desk drawer the day before and the company would not accept a personal check-which was all my wife had with her at the time. By the time all was said and done, the day was exhausted and so was I. Needless to say, I did not return to work.
I was amused by a comment made by one of the pathologists when she saw me while I was retrieving my wallet. She said, “Some people will do anything to get out of work.”
Happy Friday the 13th, everyone.