We were driving along minding our own business. Driving along in the 10,000+ pound Suburban, pulling the huge trailer, and minding our own business. (Ever notice how many tales of woe start off with, “ I was minding my own business?”). The speed limit is 55 where we were on Highway 150 in Lincolnton, NC, and I had a long distance between my truck and the one in front of us. Then, in the blink of an eye, things went all sideways – literally.
There was a line of 6 vehicles in front of us – all doing the speed limit – and, as we passed a large nursing home, a car pulled out into the road and stopped. In case you haven't done the math 55mph x 10,000 pounds/ brand new B.F. Goodrich tires x 25% of new brakes = a heck of a long stopping distance. (Yes, that is a scientific formula why do you ask?) After the first 2 seconds of panic stopping I soon realized that the coefficient of friction between the rubber and the road was insufficient to haul that ponderous poundage to a stop.
So, relying on my years of experience in demolition derby and off road insanity, (otherwise known as driving in Charlotte)I turned right. Up over the curb. Onto the grass. Into the clear. That is until a Chevy Astro van about 5 cars up had the same idea. Now sliding through wet grass at 40 some odd mph is fun enough. It is even more fun when there is suddenly a large blue hunk of steel in your path. Fortunately, he saw me, and turned hard back beside the car he was avoiding.
Only problem now was that there was a crater the size of my living room about 10 feet to the right of his van and I was still going 40. So, I summoned up all my steely eyed reserve of superhuman spacial reasoning, and threaded the Beast through a hole it would not physically fit through ( it helps if you think thin).
The next daunting obstacle was that there was not enough room to stop completely before the fast approaching tree line enveloped the front of my vehicle. However, my wild cowboy side had an out. I gently turned right up the far lip of the crater and rode the bowl around to the flat, over the curb, onto the driveway of the nursing home (a 90 degree maneuver at a way too high speed for those of you following along at home) and then brought the whole mess to a shaking, hopping, lurching, bobbing, tools in the back of the truck jingling, stop. Gently pried the leather seat from the grasp of my puckered butt cheeks, peeled my wife off the ceiling, and proceeded to find a way out of the maze of a parking lot built for tiny cars with my whole 50 foot long train.
A guy in the parking lot stopped me and said, “ I bet you have racing stripes in your shorts don't ya?”
So now I am left with figuring out how to remove the claw marks that my guardian angel left on the paint of the roof. Oh yeah, and he put in for hazard pay.