A few weeks ago, I declared that I was right 98% of the time. I even went further to suggest that, if my four sons would always simply agree with me, they’d only be wrong 2% of the time. I don’t really have statistics to back that up, and in fact empirical evidence lately would go a long way towards disproving my assertion.
Nonetheless, I do pride myself in making sound decisions. I’m an engineer by trade – an analytical thinker, a guy who likes to solve a puzzle, a guy who likes to fix a problem – but today, as I write this, I am prepared to make a full confession of … the dumbest thing I’ve done.
Perhaps this story will make me a sympathetic character in the eyes of the reader. That’s my best hope.
Today (which is some day in the past as you read this), I decided to purchase a basic refrigerator for The Claude Gentry Theatre. The Claude Gentry is a wonderful old building I own at 110 West Main Street in Baldwyn. On Saturday, August 11th, the historic structure will host an exciting new radio program called 2nd Saturday Live, and all the folks at Six Shooter Studios and Bidacaga Enterprises have been scouring the place for several weeks, making it spic and span for the upcoming event. 2nd Saturday Live is going to have notable Mississippians as guests, people of honor and accomplishment. So, we figured they might want a Coke or something before they went on stage, and we figured they’d probably want it cold. Thus, I decided to buy a refrigerator.
After checking several places, I choose the path of least resistance, cranked up our Ford F-250 work truck, and headed to Lowe’s in Tupelo to select a nice basic model, something they had on the floor … in black, to match our backstage décor at the theater.
I found an 18 cubic foot Frigidaire on the floor and haggled the sales clerk down a few bucks – I do that. We made a deal, and they said to pull the truck to the exit, and they’d load the unit, packed in Styrofoam and shrink-wrap, for me. I complied.
When I reached the loading point, I was greeted by my new refrigerator and two Lowe’s employees, some kid and his grandpa. Maybe they weren’t related. I really can’t back that up, but they did seem to work seamlessly as a team. The kid and I deferred to grandpa, given his age and obvious wisdom, as to how exactly the refrigerator needed to be positioned in the bed of the truck.
“Vertically,” he said. “Standing up. Not supposed to lay these down.”
Now I had come in the work truck to pick up the refrigerator because it had an 8-foot long bed. I could lay any refrigerator known to man down in the bed of that truck. No refrigerator I’d ever seen was taller than eight feet.
“You don’t think we should lay it down,” I asked. Every fiber of my being said to take that vertical, rectangular monolith of cooling and just tip it over on its side, where it would nest neatly into the horizontal, rectangular opening of the truck bed. A perfect fit.
“Nah, I wouldn’t,” grandpa answered. The kid said there was plenty of twine over by the door that I could use to strap the refrigerator down. And they disappeared into the darkness of the closing doors of the Lowe’s exit.
It was very hot today (which is some day in the past as you read this), pushing a hundred degrees. And there I stood, sweating, a couple strands of twine in my hand and the Washington monument upright in the bed of my Ford F250. Every fiber of my being told me that two strands of twine weren’t really going to be enough to stabilize Frigidaire’s finest, towering above me, blocking the hundred-degree sun.
“I’ll go slow,” I said to myself, and I cinched the unit against the bed of the truck.
Approximately five miles later, somewhere between Barnes Crossing and Saltillo, I went something faster than slow, and I felt a slight shift in the way the Ford F250 was handling. I glanced in my rearview mirror, and I saw an 18 cubic foot black Frigidaire refrigerator perched across the closed tailgate of my Ford F250. And the real world instantly shifted to super slow motion.
The refrigerator rocked back and forth about twice and then launched like a trapeze artist that had gained momentum to make the big jump. I think the fridge did a one and a half with a twist before sticking its landing dead center of the north bound lane of Highway 45 somewhere between Barnes Crossing and Saltillo. There was a cloud of Styrofoam particles back there behind me.
One car was forced to stop. Only one. That was the miracle.
It took me about five minutes to circle back to the probable final resting place of the refrigerator. I crossed in an emergency vehicle crossover to get to the southbound lanes. Every fiber of my being told me that, if ever there was an emergency, this was it. By the time I returned to the scene, some kind soul had moved my now-uncrated refrigerator to the side of the road. I hopped out, and with the contents of my veins, by this time, being about 50% blood and 50% adrenaline, I just hoisted the refrigerator into the bed of the truck – horizontally – like a shoebox. And I headed for home.
I could conduct the necessary autopsy on my once prized purchase in the more-friendly confines of Main Street Baldwyn.
The dumbest thing I’ve done is purchase a refrigerator, stand it up in the bed of a truck held only by a couple of pieces of string, and go carelessly fast enough so that it flipped out, slamming against an asphalt highway in a stream of oncoming traffic. When I knew better at every step, in every fiber of my being. Clearly, this disaster goes in the 2% category – times I am WRONG.
But, get this … the refrigerator works – only a couple slight scrapes and a repaired power cord. That’s the second miracle.
Still … it’s the dumbest thing I’ve done.