2008.11.19 Watching my life fly past not a big thrill

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

I’ve always wondered what people meant when they said they saw their life flash in front of them in times of possible imminent death. Last Wednesday, I was able to experience the feeling twice in one day, and I’ve learned one thing—I need a more exciting life.

I was on my way to Morenci when my Buick’s front end started vibrating. The farther I went, the worse it got. I considered detouring to the dealership where I purchased it to have the service department take a look, but the vibration, which now had spread to the steering wheel, had gotten so bad, I wondered if I could even make it to the office.

I did make it to the Observer, barely, and called a tow truck to have it hauled to the dealership. The service manager was standing outside when we arrived and took my keys while I went inside to wait for a diagnosis. I probably should have watched them move the car as I missed all the excitement.

A few minutes later, I was enjoying an outdated magazine in the showroom when the salesman who sold me the car walked past and called me “Lucky Foley,” which seemed a bit odd. When he did it a second time, I asked him why and he replied, “You mean they haven’t told you yet?”  When I asked “Told me what?” he explained that a wheel fell off the car as they were driving it inside.

That certainly explained the “lucky” part. Apparently, the lug nuts weren’t properly tightened the previous week when I had someone else at another garage do a brake inspection. One by one, they worked their way off, with the loss of each one making the Buick that much harder to handle. Finally, the last few feet of driving into the service department was enough to cause the loss of a wheel.

We decided that it was good that I hadn’t tried to drive the car there, or that the Observer wasn’t a few blocks farther north. I even made a joke about not having to see my life flash in front of me. But the day wasn’t over yet.

The dealership repaired the car rather quickly and I was soon off to Wauseon to finish my assigned duties. Afterwards, I bought dinner from a drive-through and headed back to Fayette. As I neared the intersection of 20A and 66, I had a vehicle somewhat close behind me so I was watching my rear-view mirror and the road ahead, rather than the road I was turning onto. Big mistake.

I made the turn onto 66 and was faced with a silver car bearing down on me in my lane. I think it was a Chevrolet, but I was too busy steering and swearing at the time to be sure. I managed to get most of the Buick off the road and stopped, while the silver car continued toward me.

It finally slid to a stop no more than two feet away, almost drivers window to drivers window. I rolled mine down while trying to think of something both clever and non-libelous to say. The other car suddenly took off, finally finding the correct lane. I can’t even tell you if the driver was male or female as it seemed to be full of some sort of smoke. Maybe that was their excuse...they couldn’t see where they were going because their ashtray was on fire.

Remembering that bad luck running in three’s superstition, I very carefully watched for hazards on the final seven miles, driving home while weird little film clips of my life ran through my head.

I remember seeing the beheading of my childhood companion Teddy at the hands of my brother, meeting automotive spokeswoman extraordinaire Linda Vaughan at Michigan International Speedway (if you don’t know who she is, the loss is yours), and the night I hit a horse-sized deer with my old Chevy Caprice. And those were the highlights.

Reliving the deer incident got my attention, as there are plenty of them near that stretch of road to be on the lookout for. And the way this day was going, the chance of a stray ghost or two from the partly-demolished Franklin Elementary building making their presence known was certainly possible. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t see a driver in that silver car. It was being driven by ghosts!

Or not. One thing is for sure, though. I’ve got to get a more exciting life. If it’s going to flash in front of me again, at least I should make it something I’m interested in seeing a repeat of. Ghosts and loose wheels need not apply. Linda Vaughan, that’s another story.

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