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Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Great Day Delivering Scooters That Ended Horribly

I started the day yesterday normally enough. I left about 10am and headed to Fort Edward to deliver a veteran's 300 scooter and Tracker lift to Mario at Adaptive Equipment. I haven't talked about lifts much yet, but will. The tracker is the best choice for a van.  Mario owns one of the best service centers that works with the Albany VA, covering from Plattsburg down to Albany, possibly more. Well, I got there about 2:30p, it's a lllllllooooong drive. That's when he says that the VA told him that I should take the 300 to the vet instead of leaving it with him per their instructions on the PO.  My next stop was to deliver a 300 to a vet in Saranac, actually in Danamora, just around the corner from the prison. The 300 that Mario was now not taking went to a vet in North Bangor (NY),  which was figuratively just a hop skip and a jump west of the first one, seriously 60-70 miles west, in the Adirondaks.  So I left Mario about 2:45 and jumped on 81 north, going to Saranac, got to this guys house about 5:30 or so, and delivered his scooter.  I may never have explained that like most sales jobs, a sale isn't complete until the equipment is delivered, and signed paperwork sent to the home office. Also, part of what we do that proves so valuable to the VA's is a fairly comprehensive training that helps the vets use their "chairs" better. We also fill out a checklist they sign that shows they received that training. Anyway after awhile I'm back on the road, and get to the last guy's house in North Bangor around 7p. We get him trained and the paperwork signed. Then I helped him get it into a very cluttered garage and finally headed home. Down Rte 11 to Malone, then down Rte 30 to Rte 28, to Rte 12 into Utica. This sounds easy but takes up about four good sized pages of the map  book, and amounts to something like 200-250 miles. Finally I get to Utica, it's around 11p, I think. Starving, I stopped at Wendy's, and picked up a triple bacon cheeseburger, not the Baconater (?) which is excellent, but I think called the Bacon Special, similar but less bacon and lettuce  etc., more normal. Soon back on the road, I'm headed south on Rte 12, go through Waterville, and now only 12-13 miles from home, where I plan to have a much anticipated Pepsi and enjoy my Wendy's cheeseburger.  I'm going along about 55-60, and go through a wide spot on the road called North Brookfield.  Just driving when suddenly, BANG...WHAM!!!! The van is making this horrendous noise and jumping and veering all over the road, both lanes shoulder to shoulder. I literally thought it was going to flip over. I was surprised, puzzled, scared, outraged, unknowing all at once. I'd seen NOTHING, but something had happened, what it was I didn't have a clue.  I slipped it in neutral to try to bring the van under control and finally coasted to the shoulder after a wild ride of about a half mile. Smoke was pouring out of the passenger side wheel well, like a house afire. To give you an idea of the ride, the Equalizer lift I still had in back had flopped onto it's side, and they aren't light. Still not knowing what had happened, knowing that I must have hit something, but I hadn't seen anything, nothing, nothing at all, I couldn't understand what. Then I got a flashlight and got out of the van. The front drivers side corner was bashed in, the bumper was pushed down and against the tire, explaining the smoke.   I checked the steering wheel would't turn at all now, how I'd steered it bringing it under control, God only knows. Suddenly I saw it, on the bumper, and on the inner fender that was know resting on top of the tire. Deer hair, long winter deer hair. I must have hit a deer. I took the flaslight and walked a half mile or so back down 12 to North Brookfield, oh forgot to mention that I'd called AAA and arranged for a tow after looking at the van, anyway I'm walking along looking for a dead deer. I wanted to kick the dead corpse a few times for trying to kill me. But...nothing. No deer corpse, no skid marks, nothing. Apparently he'd (or she'd) bounced off and run away into the woods that line that part of Rte 12. A lady stopped and insisted on giving me a ride back to my van. She was very nice. She did tell me about a semi, that in that same general area was swarmed by 10 or 12 deer, and he veered off the road into a field and flipped over. She said they helped him but I don't remember if she said he was hurt or not.  So anyway, I sat in my van and waited, about half a dozen cars and trucks (semi's mostly), zoomed past. The deer had done his (or her) work that night already. Finally the tow truck, from Von Bank's  in Earlville, showed up right when AAA had said, about 1am.  He got out and looked at my van, said, "hit a deer huh?"  Literally, first words out of his mouth. I commented that it's hard to believe a deer could push the bumper back like that. He said it was far from the worst he's seen, far from the worst. Then we decided that he'd have to pull the bumper away from the tire to move the van. He put the hook that they use to winch the car onto the flatbed on the bumper and I held it until it was tight and wouldn't slip and he pulled the bumper out. When he stopped it was pretty much right where it had started from. He unscrewed the one screw still holding the deer hair covered inner fender, and I tossed it onto the passenger side in the van, he checked the steering and said it looked like I could probably drive it home if I wanted to. So I took off and he followed until I turned onto Larkin Rd. When I turned the wheels I could hear grinding but figured it was a piece of plastic that had been sticking out. Finally, got home, parked, said screw it, went in and had my long awaited Pepsi and a COLD bacon cheeseburger. There's nothing quite as bad as a cold burger as I discovered. So went a great day that ended horribly.  I woke up around 11am today, had a shower and called the insurance company who were very nice and got right on it....

Lee Murray