On my 21st birthday I had an experience with foresight. Actually it was forehearing. I didn’t see anything, but I heard a car accident about 8 hours before it happened.
That summer I was driving a mail truck for my dad. Since the truck only had an AM radio, my brother had given me a set of speakers to attach to my Walkman (yes, this was the stone age) so I could listen to tapes. Naturally, I had the volume up way too loud. I was listening to Riverdogs ‘Toy Soldiers’ as I pulled out of the post office. The road I was pulling out on met up with a highway about 20 feet further along and was headed toward it at about a 30 degree angle, so looking carefully in all directions was paramount, especially since I was driving a 1 ton box van. I looked and there were no cars in sight. As I pulled out, I heard the squeal of tires and the crunch of gravel.
I slammed on the brakes. The truck bucked and died because I forgot to hit the clutch. Peering around for the source of the sound I saw – nothing. No accident. No movement. No cars. Just me, the trees, a farm house down the road, the empty highway. Oh and Riverdogs blaring in my ears and out my windows.
I shut off the tape, set the emergency brake, got out and walked around the truck. No accident no place. Jumped back in the truck and headed on my merry way. (Um, yeah, blaring Riverdogs.)I dropped off the mail at the main post office, flirted with the guys on the dock who were all sure I had to be at least 18 and who were all quite prepared to buy me drinks when they found out I was of age. (It was the shorts, I know it.)
That night, having turned down an full evening of partying with the guys from the post office dock, I set off to meet some friends in my college town and try out my newly minted ID. On my way, in a car with a tape player I was blaring – you guessed it – Riverdogs. Right in the middle of ‘Toy Soldier’ I was headed down a road that had been scraped in preparation for resurfacing so it was nubbly and none too sure. A car in front of me hit its brakes suddenly, so I hit mine.
My car, in a squeal of tires and a crunch of gravel, spun 360 degrees into the ditch. During “my only hope of change keeps falling through,” I went from on my way to a party to sitting in a ditch 6 inches from a mailbox. I shut off the music on “it scatters at my feet just like the rest of my life,” shut off the engine, got out of the car and walked around it. It looked for all the world like I had parked in the ditch. Not a scratch. No one stopped to help me. I’m not sure anyone even noticed anything had happened. Most importantly, I never had to tell my parents.
But I can count. On accident heard. One near miss ridden out. Third time the charm?
I stunned my friends that night by inaugurating my ID with Coke. Plain Coke.
And if I ever meet Vivian Campbell I’m going to tell him he either saved my life that night, or ruined my 21st birthday.