Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ladders--A Public Service Announcement

"Mom's been in an accident."

My heart dropped.

"But she's safe and without injury. I just wanted you to know." Mom was okay, but Dad wasn't.

Mom and her sister were driving from San Diego to Santa Cruz for her niece's wedding, when they were side-smashed by another car. The offending car had swerved to miss a flying ladder. Mom and Aunt Brenda were fine: shaken and sore from the jolt; the car was totaled.

The accident happened several years ago, but while driving on the California Northbound 5 today, I was reminded of her accident. When I turned onto the freeway, the traffic should have been clear, but after driving for five minutes, it slowed and almost came to a stop. Oh no, I thought, this is going to be a very long trip if traffic is already at a standstill. As we creeped forward, I saw what had been the problem. A recently bent up and broken ladder was lying on the freeway. One part of it on the shoulder, the other half jutting into a lane. Thank goodness, it hadn't caused an incident besides a momentary traffic slow-down.

I wondered if ladder-problems on the freeway were common, and kept my eyes open for ladders. I passed an open bed truck with a ladder tied down by one yellow band. I then passed another ladder lying on the inside lane of the freeway. The only way it could have gotten there was from the back of someone's truck.

Tony and I once had to transport an immense painting in the back of a rented truck. Tony was fastidious and responsible in tying it down with tarps and rope. It wasn't ten miles outside the city when the ropes had loosened and we had to pull over and re-situate the painting. Less than another ten miles and we were once again pulled to the side of the road re-tying. We kept a close watch for the rest of the trip. We had thought the original packing was good enough, but the speed and freeway conditions proved otherwise.

I realize the audience of people reading this may not include anyone who drives around with a ladder in the back of his or her pick-up truck. Yet, after today's observations, I felt strongly compelled to send out a warning, but not only for loose ladders flying through the air during the morning commute.

I thought of other dangerous things that may fly from the back of our open bed trucks, or our minds and mouths: hurtful words.

Tie them down, pull over and tie them down again. Keep them in check for how easily they escape.