Another Crash Course

Tuesday December 22nd, 2009 – LaGrange, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Early this evening I once again barely escaped my bloody death in a violent car crash. If I’m supposed to be learning something from this, I think I’m blowing it. I haven’t a clue as to why this keep happening, but I hope I figure it out so it can stop. This is ridiculous.

Last December 3rd I was in Milwaukee and got my back forty plowed by two gang thugs in a stolen car in the middle of the ghetto. Tonight it was a multiple car pile up way out in the sticks on an icy hill. The person in front of me slammed on the brakes, but I was as far back as I could be because I saw it was icy. Too bad for me, I still got creamed in the end.

I wasn’t going all that fast, but fast enough to skid when I hit the brakes. I always heard  a driver should steer toward the direction of the skid. I did that and it straightened out, but I had a split second to make a decision or I would have rammed the person in front of me.

To the right I saw telephone poles and mailboxes, but to the left I saw what looked to be empty fields. Unfortunately, it was a two lane highway and someone was coming head on straight at me. I gunned it to try and make it into the open field and ended up spinning my whole car so the rear end was facing the oncoming car. Then I heard that hideous crash.

I’m familiar with that sound, I’ve heard it way too often. This one was a direct hit and it blasted me all the way back over to my original side of the road and into a big snow bank. It’s amazing how much damage can be done in such a split second of time. What a mess.

My entire trunk was torn off along with the rear bumper and all the lights. Everything in the trunk was shredded, including the big box of sports cards I had in there to sort and the collection of Hot Wheels and Match Box cars I recently picked up from my cousin Brett .

Of ALL days to have this accident, it would have to be today when my trunk was filled with things I was counting on to bring me a few bucks to use as a cushion going into the new year. GONE. All of it. Well, most of it, but the stuff that stayed has a lot of damage, at least what I was able to salvage. It disgusted me to look at that, but at least I’m alive.

There were about six cars total in the wreck and the ambulances came and then a police car showed up with two more right behind. They were asking all of us questions but I was stunned, wandering around trying to find some of those lost trinkets I was counting on for extra money so I could pay some bills. There were other people crying and visibly upset.

I’ve had these kinds of things happen so often I’m just numb to it all. Even the guy who looked me over in the ambulance said “Wow, you sure are taking this calmly.” I told him I’d been through it all before and knew how to handle myself. Unfortunately, that’s true.

The one thing I couldn’t find were my glasses, which were thrown from my face right on impact. I looked and looked but couldn’t find them. Then a fireman looked and he located them in about ten seconds. They landed in the pen holder pocket in the passenger’s door.
I’m glad there weren’t any passengers with me. I called a few people for the opener spot on the gig I was going to, but couldn‘t find any takers. Good for all parties. Who knows if  weight distribution with two people would have made the car flip over or stay head on for a crash that probably wouldn’t have had many survivors. This could have been very ugly.

It’s still going to be a significant hassle, but much less than what could have been. I’m now without a car, and that’s a killer. A road comic needs to have wheels to work at gigs like the one I was headed to tonight at the Black Bear Casino right outside Duluth, MN.

This was one of those ‘too far for too little’ gigs, but I agreed to do it because I was able to bring Kristi McHugh along. She’s originally from Iowa and is back there visiting all of her friends and family for Christmas. She said she needed money and I know I do so I got us booked so we could hang out, have fun and get paid. None of that is going to happen.

I received a call from Kristi this morning telling me she was snowed in and couldn’t get out of town to meet me in Clear Lake, IA where we had agreed to meet up. I assured her a career is not on the line at the Black Bear Casino, even though it’s a nice place full of all nice people, from the staff down to the customers. It’s a fun gig, but the drive is too long.

I called a few people after I spoke with Kristi to try and fill the opener slot. There isn’t a shortage on finding comedians, or even comedians on short notice. The trick is getting the person that’s able to coexist in a car for eight hours. That’s the real challenge, and a tough one at that. I’ve learned how to be a good road companion but a lot of others sure haven’t.

Bill Gorgo almost said yes, as did Mike Preston. Those are two road guys I know I’d get along with, we’ve done long rides before. One thing about chemistry with another comic in the car for that many hours each way, it’s either tolerable or it isn’t. I don’t need quirks, I’ve got my own. It’s also a courtesy as a road warrior to learn to be an easy travel buddy.

I couldn’t find anyone to take Kristi’s place and I couldn’t get the booker on the phone to explain the situation. I was going to dive up there tonight, get settled and be as fresh as a green banana in case I had to do the whole show myself, which is a distinct possibility.

Money’s tight on this run anyway, so I wanted to at least get up there and get some rest so no matter who does or doesn’t show, crowd included, I’ll be ready to perform and get my pay. That’s the business side of why I’m going but I want to please the people as well.

Now all my plans have changed. I’m getting very sore, but I’ve experienced that before in other accidents. I’ll take a hot shower and stretch and walk around whenever I can and I’m hoping I’ll be able to once again suck it up, move on and put this in my distant past.

I can complain or I can keep going and at least try to make something happen. For now, I cleaned out my old car and brought all the contents home that were salvageable. I know I’m missing a bunch of stuff, but for now it’s the best I can do. Welcome to Mr. Lucky’s world. My can and my car are dented, but at least I’m still alive. Why? I have NO idea.


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