Saturday, August 20, 2016

And that includes pot!

My old pickup truck, yeah, you know, the one that I drove all of the way to Indiana and back in recently? Yeah, that one. Well, it's gone over 200,000 miles and so I figured that I better spend some money on preventative maintenance before she up and quits on me somewhere inconvenient. I had a week when I had no service calls planned, and so I put it in the shop for a tune-up. I also had the water pump, belt, front main seal, and all of the shocks replaced. While they were working on it, they also discovered that both of the linkages for the sway bar (associated with the steering and suspension) were broken, and so I had that repaired as well.

While I had had no service calls planned when I put my truck in the shop, an urgent request had come up the very next morning from the University of Houston, and so when I picked up my truck, I immediately headed south-east in it. Not two hours after I had had all of that suspension work done, some idiot pulled out directly in front of me while I was doing 70 MPH. I saw him waiting on a side road to cross the highway but I didn't think too much about it until he waited until I was only 50 or so yards from him and then pulled out directly in front of me. Needless to say I laid on the horn and stood on the brakes. For just a moment, the whole world seemed to slow down. . .
I guess that he must have heard the horn and realized that we were both about to die, but he then panicked and stopped directly in front of me! Now he was completely blocking the left lane that I was doing 70 MPH in. I know that this sounds like bullshit, but during times like this, you really do seem to think faster than normal. I actually recall considering my options and I figured that they were seriously limited. Stay in my lane and T-bone his car at near 70 MPH, or take to the grass divider that separates the east and west lanes of the highway. I didn't have time to see if there were drainage ditches, concrete culverts, signs, or posts, I just knew that my options were to definitely be in the hospital that afternoon, or to take to the center divider and hope like hell that it worked out for the best.
I’m pretty sure that my truck briefly left the ground as I pulled the wheel to the side and left the pavement. Much to my great relief, I had missed the concrete drain that ran under the crossroad, and so now my only problem was that I was still doing somewhere around 50 MPH, but now it was on slippery grass and headed directly for the oncoming traffic. Yeah, all of those years when I was young and dumb and used to love driving my car sideways in the dirt paid off that moment . . .
I eventually came to a stop in the left lane of the oncoming traffic on the other side of the highway with dust and grass billowing all around me. I had just enough presence of mind to pull my truck out of the traffic lane and onto the shoulder, and then I just sat there on the wrong side of the road, facing the wrong direction, for about five minutes with my leg shaking so bad I couldn't use the clutch. Finally, I got myself pulled together and got out and started a walk around my truck to see what damage had been caused. I was worried that I might have actually hit the car because it had happened so fast, and the drive through the medium was so rough, I honestly wasn't sure at that point. Speaking of the other car, I spun around to see if they were all right, but apparently he figured his job of trying to kill people was complete, and he had taken off without so much as an apology.

I was pulling clumps of grass out of my grill and my bumpers when a beautiful young woman came walking up to me and told me that she had seen the whole thing, and that the police were on the way.
"Oh my God, I can't believe you made it! Are you ok?!" She asked, a bit out of breath from her fast walk through the heat to get to me. I shakily assured her that I was pretty sure that I was fine, so she walked around my truck with me as I inspected it for damage.
"Either you are very lucky, or a very good driver!" She exclaimed. "I kept waiting for your truck to flip over! At that speed it wouldn't have taken much!"
I started laughing, probably as much from shock as anything else.
"Yeah, that was the benefit of a misspent youth of hot rodding cars down dirt roads!"

After I had finished giving my report to the police, the young ladies parting words to me as I was pulling out:
"You watch, your life is going to be different from here out. God saved you for a reason. . . "

So I got to thinking about this a few days later. When I was in my twenties, I got into lots of trouble doing stupid shit with cars, some of it fairly serious trouble at that, but the skills that I had learned and honed at that stage of my life had saved my life, and the lives of others, on multiple occasions in the years since. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating doing reckless and stupid things in your car because the skills might pay off, but I do think that maybe I won't devote so much time to giving myself hell for the stupid things that I did in my past. I might well have been dead by now if it weren't for the skills that my stupidity has taught me.

The other thing that struck me, was to wonder if I hadn't saved my own life by having the truck serviced right before this drive? Would the truck have dealt so well with hitting the center divider at such a high rate of speed if the broken sway bar hadn't been found and fixed, and if the shocks hadn’t just been replaced?
Things that make you wonder.

So, now that my son is no longer stationed there, I suddenly have a service call to the Bremerton Wa area. I had had no idea that we had any customers in that area and so I was more than a little surprised when I got the call. I’ve gotta admit that I was kind of irritated too. This would have been awesome if it had occurred when my son and his family were stationed there, but I guess that's the way the ball bounces.

The day started off with the parking shuttle bus driver calling me "sir", then quickly apologizing and saying "ma'am". I just kind of laughed and told him not to worry about it, that I get that quite a lot. What the hell, clearly I’m confused about my gender so why shouldn't he be? Funny thing, I actually felt pretty all day but kept getting called sir anyway. Usually my “passing” improves when I feel good about myself, but not so much this day. With this being the West coast, I still had lots of people start up conversations with me, even though I apparently wasn’t passing in the least little bit.

Checking into the hotel, I had to kind of laugh as the young lady behind the counter informed me that there is no smoking in the hotel.
“And that includes smoking pot!” she added with a grin. I just kind of looked at her for a second.
“You really have to specifically tell people that around here?” I asked her.
“Sure! Pot is legal here, but some people seem to forget that ‘no smoking’ means pot too.”
“Yeah, I’m cool with it being legal and all, but I still can’t risk it myself. I’ve had to take too many drug tests for customers through the years and it might cost me my job.”
“I don’t use it either.” She assured me with a wink as she handed me my keys. Personally, I think she fibbed. . .

When it came time to head back home, I stopped into the hotels dining area to grab a cup of coffee for the hour and a half drive to the Seattle Tacoma airport. As I stood there putting sugar and cream into my cup, a gentleman about my own age stepped up beside me, grabbed a coffee cup, and started a conversation with me.
“How are you this morning?” he asked.
“I’m well thank you. How about yourself?”
“I’m doing pretty good. Just enjoying the beautiful weather here!”
“I know what you mean. It’s awesome here, isn’t it?” I agreed.
“It is! The sunshine is great! I came from Indiana, and it seems like it’s been raining non-stop there. Everyone talks about how it rains all of the time here, but I had to come all of the way to Washington just to get some sunshine.”
We both laughed about that for a moment.
“I hear you.” I told him. “I just left Indiana a few weeks ago myself after spending nine months there, and I’d have to agree with you – it seems like it rained the entire time that I was there.”
“Really? Where were you working while you were there?”
“I was down in Columbus working at Cummins.”
“I’ve done some work down there too.” He said.
“I’ll bet it was with Cummins.” I laughed. “That’s about all there is there I think.”
“No,” he disagreed. “I’ve done some work with Crane in that area.”
I don’t recall the name of the town, but he told me that he had been working at the US Navy’s largest US base that is apparently located in Indiana. I just looked at him for a second.
“You’re kidding right?” I asked. “You’re telling me that the Navy’s largest base is in Indiana?!”
“Yep, in the middle of a completely land locked state.” He assured me. “I think it used to be an Army base before the Navy took it over.”
“Well,” he said, kind of softly as we started to go our own ways, “you have a great day!”

I think that I am going to miss the west coast . Nice people there.

On the flight to Minneapolis where I was to catch my connecting flight, one of the flight attendants decided to totally out me. He was walking down the aisle with a PDA telling everyone what their connecting gates were. He got to my row.
“Huddle?” he asks everyone in my row. I raised my hand to identify myself.
Matthew Huddle?!” he asked, looking confused.
I continued to hold my hand up and started to wiggle my fingers to once again confirm, yes, that is me! The young man sitting next to me did an honest to God double take, looking at me, looking away, and then quickly looking back when I confirmed that my name was indeed “Matthew”. I bullshit you not, he visibly tried to move just a little further away from me in his seat. Well there is a mixed blessing. Here I’d been sure that I was not passing, but the way the young man next to me almost jumped when the flight attendant outted me, it was pretty obvious that he had had no idea. Talk about good news / bad news. For the record, Matthew Huddles gate was G12  . . .


  1. Great stories (as usual) and SO glad you lived to tell the tale of the accident. I am in Spokane WA, sorry I missed you in Bremerton.

  2. I was in a situation 11 years ago in an 18 wheeler fully loaded pouring rain and got forced into the wet greasy muddy median about 60 MPH. I was traveling with another truck and he witnessed the whole thing, His exact words; "I ain't seen nobody get in a situation like that and lived to tell about it!" anyways, the point is I had also went through that slow motion thing, Although I was on I-95 in South Carolina 5 miles from the Georgia state line, My skills from driving a gravel train in Michigan ( Semi tractor with 2 dump trailers 160,000 pounds gross) in all kinds of weather 12 months a year for 20 years when I was younger had kicked in. The world was moving slowly for me as I regained control of the truck and worked it back onto the southbound side of the interstate where I had been forced from by another truck. He never stopped I tried to catch him but he took off. The I beam post with cables linking them tore the shit out of the truck I was driving though.

    1. Wow - I can't imagine doing that in an 18 wheeler!

  3. Maybe you can spell your name a little differently? Maybe with a "y" in the middle so it reads "Maythew"? Then when that happens you can confirm by just using May as your name. Maybe? Whaddaya think? Tonya Bee☺

    1. Nope. You have to give the airline your actual name when you buy tickets

  4. Kim -

    Too bad that your legal name isn't androgynous , like mine is (in its familiar form). I am tempted to change it to remove the formal part that identifies me as a male. For example, Alex could be either Alexandra or Alexander. And when it is spoken, people might hear Alice is they are not careful.....


  5. Kim,

    My name belonged to boys a long time ago. But the girls took it over, and now it's much more common for girls. Only us old pharts still use the name. Be that as it name helps occasionally to tip the scale when my appearance as Mandy is off the mark a bit. And if I ever transition, I really don't have to do much in the name change department.

    Speaking of accidents, back in the early 2000's I was driving an older Bonneville on a 4-lane city street, in the left travel lane, at the speed limit (of 40.) An older Taurus was in the left turn lane at a cross intersection, waiting on "who knows what" to turn. The light was green in our direction, and as my heavy Bonneville was about 2 carlengths from the intersection, the driver of the Taurus decided that she wanted to turn right, not left. And immediately turned right, out of the left turn lane and into my path. I laid on the brake and horn as the Bonneville T-boned the Taurus.

    My life passed in front of my eyes those couple of seconds before impact. And the look of terror in the eyes of the kids in the front and rear passenger's seats haunted me for a while. But our airbags went off, and my wife and I walked away with no injuries. The occupants of the other car - not so much. They all got hauled to the hospital. I was not cited. The other driver was served her summmons in the hospital, for several infractions. So I understand your (and Janice's) situations.

    As a postscript, my insurance company told me that the other driver was out of state and uninsured. They paid substantial medical expenses for the folks in the other car. And they totaled my car - which had to be pried out of the middle of the Taurus. I got a pittance for it.

    To add insult to injury, at renewal time my insurance cost increased, beyond that which would have been required for my new car. So I decided to go get competitive quotes. Both companies I checked said "With your at-fault accident, you'll have to wait 4 more years to get a quote from us." I said "I can send you a notarized copy of the police report which says 'Not at fault.'" "We can't honor the police report, since the insurance company says you were at fault."

    I called my insurance company. "At least we didn't drop you." Yeah, right. The only thing they would do was provide a letter to my company attesting to the fact I had no at-fault accidents, thus letting me drive the company car. When I gave a copy of this letter to the competing insurance companies, voila! I got my quotes. Gave the letter to a third insurance company, they gave an even better quote - saved a thousand dollars a year, best price of the bunch. And promptly changed insurance companies.

    Couldn't honor the police report showing "not at fault?" That's incredible. The whole bunch of 'em deserved to lose, or not gain, my business.



    1. No doubt about it, insurance companies can suck . . .

  6. Kim,
    Things happen for a reason. I believe you are a theist, so the hand of God was at work on those several days.

  7. As one who also did crazy things driving a car when young, I agree that the skills of a misspent youth can come back to save me. I learned to drive on ice on the range roads of Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Plenty of icy roads there! Last January just south of Spokane, WA, I hit unexpected ice at 60 mph. Instantly, I was in the opposite lane with oncoming traffic bearing down on me. You are right about things slowing down in such situations. My skills from youth got me back in my own lane a half second from a head on crash and I did not plummet down a steep cliff to the right shoulder. I spent several minutes stopped at the next intersection before going real slow the rest of the way to Spokane airport. Though I lack the guts to fly pretty, Abby's pretty things were in a bag beside me in the car , anticipating a few days in a warmer, brighter, and drier place than Spokane in January. Thanks for your great blog. I love reading of your adventures. Do take care of yourself!

    1. Funny, I also practiced on the tank trails of Ft Sill Ok. Lol

  8. Kimberly, I cannot say enough how much I enjoy your posts, since, finding you under Stana's site Femulate. This one really hit home, and glad you made it through alright. I like you travel around a lot for work and had many of a life passing before your eyes moments. Once on icy roads on the interstate I gave a poor guy a little NASCAR nudge to save me from slamming into the concrete medium here in northwest Indiana. After he did two 360's and stopped few inches from going down a 15 foot ditch, I found out he could not speak English and was not insured. Thank god for traffic cams and those brave wonderful men and women of the Indiana State Police I was soon on my way with the thought all those years trying to kill myself as a teen had paid off. Then with a new dent and extra extended bumper I was side swiped two days later by an overly aggressive young man at 70mph trying to get around a person that just so happened to be able to get in front of him that day. With just a few choice words from me, such as what a A..hole he was, I told him it was his lucky day as he did not cause anymore damage that someone else had already, and bid him ado. It was great seeing him with his jaw hitting the pavement in the rear view mirror as I knew it was not his new pick-up truck,; most likely his father's.
    I like yourself work at many automotive and the like places you have. I have never met you, but hope one day to meet you in passing. Do not get me wrong not a "tranny chaser" just find I love your posts and some what a celebrity chaser. Me life long cross dresser.
    Glad you lived to post another day, and yes this day where I am at in Indiana it is raining and just was just missed by a few miles by a tornado.


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