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Mon, Dec 29, 2014

VINSON: A story about ‘time’: 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock … then boom!

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As indicated, this is a story about “time.” However, in this particular case time takes on a greater definition than the mere passing and recording of seconds, minutes, hours, etc.

It was Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, around 4:30 p.m. My cell phone rang, and it was my good friend John, who’d been a patient at the Veteran’s Administration/VA Hospital in Nashville for the previous nine days, undergoing a battery of tests and treatments for a serious illness.

John had been released from the VA Hospital, he informed me, and wanted me to drive down and pick him up. I knew he’d been “cooped up,” so to speak, and was anxious to get home. I told him he could expect me around 7 p.m.

Leaving McMinnville around 5 p.m., I hit Highway 70S and traversed Woodbury to Murfreesboro, where I hit I-24, Nashville bound.

I arrived at the VA Hospital in Nashville a little after 7 p.m. After securing a spot in the VA parking lot, I called John and told him I’d arrived. In about 10 minutes, John appeared, a couple small backpacks in tow, and he and I loaded up in my station wagon.

Traffic was moving at a snail’s pace on I-24 from Nashville to Murfreesboro, and for a good reason. There was a torrential downpour. Visibility was extremely poor, and traffic was pulled over everywhere.

However, a couple minutes before John and I reached the 231/Shelbyville Road Exit in Murfreesboro, the rain let up considerably, and we figured we were good to go.

After exiting on 231 and hitting South Rutherford Boulevard, though, it was as if the Lord, Himself, unzipped the sky and was showing us what Noah and his family went through on the Ark for 40 days and 40 nights! It commenced raining harder than before —buckets, not drops.

The logical move would’ve been to pull over to the side of the road. However, there was nowhere to pull. Plus, we couldn’t visually distinguish anything. We couldn’t tell if we were veering into the next lane, getting too close to a curb, whatever. It was as if we, literally, were driving on top of a lake.

With my hands locked firmly in the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions on the steering wheel, eyes glued straight ahead, I mentioned to John that it would be all-too-easy to wreck in such weather conditions ­‑‑ and then boom!
Yep, my front tire had barely caught the triangular edge of a high curb, my station wagon jumping up on the curb, then off the curb back onto the road, passenger-side tires — front and rear — flat.

But we had to keep driving, on two flats, or risk someone plowing into us from the rear. Even when we found a flat spot on which to pull over, about 150 feet from where we’d hit the curb, were we far enough off the road to avoid getting smashed? Traffic was zig-zagging all over the place, and it was 10 o’clock at night! Still, I had a very sick man with me who needed to get home and into bed. What was I to do?

Luckily, the rain eventually eased up. I ended up calling a relative, who came to our rescue. She let me borrow her car, and John and I arrived home (McMinnville) a little after midnight. I drove back to Murfreesboro the next morning, retrieved my car, and all ended well.

That said, John and I agree that had I not had my hands firmly in the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions on the steering wheel, thus allowing me to maintain control of the wagon, the outcome could’ve been far worse.

John and I also agree that first 20 or so minutes after hitting the curb was one of the more stressful  “times” either of us ever has experienced. However, it just wasn’t our “time.”

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