Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Waking Up to a Car in the Back Yard

It was kind of a shocker to look out of the kitchen window this morning and see the sunrise illuminating an SUV parked at a rather awkward angle in the drainage ditch that runs along the south easement of our property. The ditch runs into a drainage canal behind our lot on the east boundary. That canal, in turn, drains toward the south, into the main canal. Then it dissipates into a marsh about four miles away.

As I went out to investigate, my wife called the local sheriff’s office. Thankfully, there wasn't anyone in the SUV injured. However, about an eighth of mile to the south, near the intersection of the two larger drainage canals, was another car in the ditch. There was also a pick-up truck on the canal right-of-way with the headlights on.

As the morning sun rose higher, a further comedy of events was about to unfold. A young man had got his car stuck while trying to cross the drainage canal near the main canal. The summer rainy season, in Florida, is not the time to attempt crossing a drainage canal in a car or on foot. On foot, you’re pretty much guaranteed to give up your Nikes to the mud. A car is going to sink up to the axles in mud.

The SUV that was in our ditch, the young man had borrowed to pull his car out. It was not clear why the two ditched vehicles were over two city blocks apart. This was especially curious since the closest street access to the canal was nearer to the main canal where the car was stuck.

It gets better. Having two vehicles stuck in the two different ditches, this young man borrowed a pick-up truck to pull out the car and SUV. Later in the morning the owners of the SUV and pick-up were more than a little peeved that their vehicles had been “borrowed” without the young man asking for their permission.

When the deputy sheriff showed up, the young man quickly proved that his listening skills were no better than his judgment. The young man was not rude or disrespectful but he was very argumentative. I had to admire the deputy’s patience. However, the conversation finally ended with the deputy saying something to this effect.

“You are trespassing on these canals and on this man’s private property. We have a standing order to arrest anyone on the canals or adjacent right-of-ways and confiscate their vehicles. We try to be lenient. However, if you don’t want to listen to me then I CAN arrest you and you can have this conversation with a judge.”

The young man wasn't real enthused about that idea. The deputy went on.

“I don’t want to hear anymore about trying to pull these vehicles out with a pick-up truck. You need a tow truck with a winch to bring them out.”

The young man nodded agreement and headed, on foot, down the street toward where he lived. The deputy gave me his name and cell phone number so that I could call him directly, if needed, and then he left too.

Within the hour there was a tow truck in front of our house and the deputy was back. However, when I looked out back at the SUV I was dumbfounded. If you can imagine a scene of eight monkeys all trying to fornicate the same football, at the same time, then that would be close to what I was looking at. In this case, though, some monkeys were going to get hurt.

Just as the deputy had told the young man not to do, there was a pick-up truck hooked onto the SUV with a chain from the trailer hitch of the truck to the trailer hitch of the SUV. Five people were in the ditch and hunched in front of the SUV with a grip on the bumper. Someone was in the driver’s seat of the SUV and someone was driving the pick-up.

The eighth person had a reasonable chance of surviving the imminent calamity. He was standing back at a distance as if he was the one in charge. They pulled with the pick-up while they pushed with the five people in the ditch, in front of the SUV.

The SUV wouldn’t budge. Then the pick-up driver backed up to slack the chain and jerked against it while the pushers heaved. They repeated that three times and actually moved the SUV a foot or two. As I watched, my fear was that all of the five would be crushed in front of the SUV when the chain snapped.

Fortunately, there was at least one in the group who had a GED level or higher of common sense and decided to stop the effort to think about their next move. Then the deputy walked into our back yard and started chewing butts. It went something like this.

“I am tired of you people screwing with me. Now, get that truck out of here or I’ll have it towed. I have the tag number in my accident report already. The tow truck has been here waiting for a while now. Get him back here and get this car winched out right now or somebody is going to go to jail.”

The tow truck easily drew the SUV out of the ditch with a winch. On level ground, the SUV was started. The owner was able to drive it away. Isn’t it great when a logical plan falls together?

Game Over!       Football 5       Monkeys 0 

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