Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Gauntlet Has Thrown Down the Gauntlet with a Little Road Rage

Okay, so I'm mixing metaphors a bit. The section of road we call the Gauntlet hasn't physically been thrown; it's over a mile long, for goodness' sake. We weren't exactly in the Gauntlet anyway. But it does feel as though that stretch of road has claimed another victim, and I for one have about had it, hence, throwing down the gauntlet. Road rage is self-explanatory.

Dude was on a week of vacation early this spring. We had had a busy week of pruning the orchard and enjoying each other's company. We decided, without any real necessity to do so, to go to town, grab the mail, and pick up coffees. Dude was driving, I was doing something online on my phone. Suddenly, just outside the Gauntlet, there was a vehicle crossways in the road, completely blocking our path.

The Gauntlet is a 50mph gravel road. Straight as an arrow. Little hills and dales, but the dust proves someone is coming from over a mile away. Then, just as you emerge from the Gauntlet, there's an ever-so-slight jog (about half a road-width) with some landscaping at the point on one side and a huge tree on the other. A driveway heads south from this point, then a second driveway leading to the house of a cranky old lady who placed her house too close to the road and couldn't understand why there should always be so much dust when any of us drove by.

Her caregiver had backed into the road with her stomper truck -- without turning at all -- and stopped while deciding whether to pull back in or just get out of the truck right there to move the garbage can. She hadn't yet stepped out of the vehicle when we crashed into her rear quarterpanel. We had spent 400 feet trying to stop or slow or get around her. There was literally nowhere to go.

Her bumper was fine except a displacement in the hitch. Our poor little car was totaled. And it was our only manual transmission, a favorite in our family. Dude had a perfectly clean driving record, and I was worried an accident would lose him a job with a delivery company. But honestly, those were the least of our worries.

When we saw what was about to happen, I apparently didn't put the phone down. Instead, I held it in front of me where the airbag could crush everything in its path. And it did. My smartphone was white from the crushing of the screen. The hard case was broken. The battery was bent. And apparently, my hand was too.

Munchkin, now done with driver's ed and capable of maneuvering the Gauntlet on her own, came to deliver me to the hospital. Dude stayed to deal with the caregiver and the sheriff. There's a much longer story here that really isn't a part of ranch life, except that I've been hindered for months now. The little bit of bone where the tendon on the back of the finger attaches to the finger is broken off, and we're trying to get them to fuse back together; I'm going to lose the nail. So, I'm not supposed to soak it in water, bend that knuckle (but bend the next one), hit it, jam it, smash it ... any of the normal things that happen in ranch life.

I have, though, discovered I can cut down trees with a sawzall, can an enormous amount of vegetables, ride a horse, and -- finally -- type (but just a little bit).

They say most accidents happen within two miles of home. That end of the Gauntlet is pretty close to that.