Saturday, August 28, 2010


I have never been one to have bumper stickers on my vehicles. I sometimes enjoy them on other cars but never really felt the need to express myself on my bumper. The majority of the bumper stickers I see are rather lackluster and unoriginal. It seems to me that bumper stickers have lost their appeal and that there are very few good ones about anymore. I do have a few favorites and a couple of them are below:

The more people I meet the more I like my dog

People who think they know it all really annoy those of us who do

What Would Scooby Doo?

I did make my own bumper sticker once but I never put it on my car, although I did hang it up at work for a very short time. It read:

People Against Dead Drivers

Many years ago, my wife and I lived in Anchorage, Alaska. We lived in an apartment complex on the corner of a busy road and a fairly quiet cross street. We parked our cars at an angle on the cross street at the side of our apartment. The City of Anchorage had a lot across the side street that was a parking area for snow plows and other heavy equipment. There was a garage on the back of the property for maintenance work. The front of the lot was all gravel and was usually empty in the summer. There was a 6 foot chain link fence around the property and a gate across the entry way. The gate was always closed and locked. One summer night after midnight I awoke to some loud noises. I didn’t recognize the sounds. I then heard a car racing up the side street towards our complex. I heard some crashes and an engine roaring. I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen window. Bright headlights were shining directly into the apartment from the city lot across our side street. I could still hear the car engine roaring. I looked out the window and behind the bright headlights I could see dirt flying out from the spinning rear tires of the vehicle. I put some clothes on and went outside. Another man had stopped and run up to the vehicle and turned the engine off. The vehicle was a taxi cab and the driver had been shot and killed. We called the police and they showed up instantly. They cordoned off the area and interviewed everyone around. No one there had seen the assailant, or anything unusual prior to the noise. After a couple of hours the police came back to our apartment and said that the cab had hit our car before turning across the street, breaking through the fence and then looping back towards our apartment. The cab hit a fence post squarely or it may have come right into our kitchen. The damage to our car was minimal. Estimates came to about $600. I contacted the cab driver’s insurance company and they said they would take care of everything. So I filed a claim with them and waited for a check.

A couple weeks later I received a call from them. They told me that they were not liable for the damage. There was no negligence on the part of their insured. Bottom line for them was that a dead person cannot be negligent. Our conversations became somewhat morbid as we discussed when the cab driver actually died. Did he die before he hit my car and then make a turn away from it through the fence across the road and then back towards our apartment? Did the shooter pull the steering wheel to the right? I was 25 or 26 years old - pretty naive. The world hadn’t kicked me around too much yet, but something didn’t make sense to me. I called my insurance company and discussed the accident with them. My agent said that the cab’s insurance company is dead wrong, (pardon the pun). They should be liable for the damage regardless of the timing of the driver’s death. He told me to file a claim with them, fix the car, and then my insurance company would sue the cab’s insurance company for damages in the amount of their claim plus my deductible. This made sense to me and this is the path my wife and I took.

I waited a couple months and hadn’t heard anything from my insurance company. I called, talked to my agent, and then a claims adjustor. When I asked about my accident, he laughed and said that they would not pursue such a small claim. It was less than $300 paid by the insurance company. I told him what I had been told about recovering my deductible I had paid. He laughed again said that my $300 deductible paid was not a concern of theirs. I won’t mention the name of my insurance company, but I canceled my policies with them and vowed never to do business with them again. And told them I surely didn’t feel like I had been in good hands. My only recourse was to create my own bumper sticker. It hung in my cubicle at work for a very short time, there is more to that story, but I can't go there.

To this day I have not done business with that insurance company, I haven’t put a bumper sticker on any of my vehicles, I'm still an opponent of driving dead, and the membership of P.A.D.D. remains at one.
A Musing of Age

I recently celebrated the 21st anniversary of my 29th birthday. I’d heard that turning 50 is a big step in life. I do find myself reflecting on the past more often. I look at my kids and their friends and the way most of them are so grown up and mature. I remember like yesterday when they were small and needed me. Seeing them all grown up makes me feel less useful, it makes me wonder if I raised them right, if they had enough good, memorable experiences, and it makes me ask myself; “What the hell happened? Wasn’t I just 25 a couple of years ago?” My oldest son goes off to college next week. He’s 18 years old and 6 feet 5 inches tall. He’s a smart kid, he received a great scholarship, he got a 33 on his ACT test (99th percentile in the nation), and he can beat me on the basketball court. I used to be pretty good, I had skills, I was quick and agile. I used to have a decent vertical. When he was in 5th grade I dominated him, but no more.

My brother-in-law, Bill, is now pushing 50. I talked to him about being fifty years old and my concerns of growing old. I was hoping for some support. He explained to me that for many years he was always referred to as ‘Big Bill’. His oldest son, also named Bill, was either Billy or Little Bill. The years raced by and now both of Bill’s sons are taller and heavier than him. His daughter is grown and married. He no longer merits the name of ‘Big Bill’, his son is now ‘Big Bill’ or ‘Young Bill”, he is now appropriately referred to as ‘Little, Old Bill’. This was not the help and support I was looking for.

Brayden and I went salmon fishing a few weeks ago. We were walking through the woods up above the South Fork of the Salmon River. Brayden looked up and very calmly said, “There’s a bear”. I looked up and saw a large black bear strolling along about 50 yards from us. I was somewhat concerned as most black bears I’ve seen in my life typically turn and run from humans. This one appeared to be checking us out to see how fishing was going. This was also the second biggest black bear I’d ever seen, and he was much closer than most other bears I’d bumped into. I began forming my strategy if he charged, or wanted to search us for salmon. Would we stand our ground, jump up and down and scream, or would we make a run for it? I looked at the steep slope down to the river and thought that might be a good option. The bear stopped to take a closer look at us as I took his picture. I then looked to my son to see if he was getting concerned. He looked at me with a smile and a little twinkle in his eye. I recognized that look, as I had also used it somewhere in the past. It said, “It doesn’t matter which way you go Pops, I can outrun you.” The bear didn’t charge, but I had already settled on the ‘stand my ground, jump up and down and yell tactic’.

However smart and mature your kids may be, there is always room for one of life’s little lessons. Brayden’s mother had asked him to blow off the driveway with the electric blower recently. We have a large driveway with trees all around. We use a 100 foot extension cord to reach everywhere needed. Blowing off the driveway is a normal chore that even Brayden can’t get out of all the time. Brayden’s not big on doing jobs around the house. He tells me that the vacuuming really sucks, and that clearing the driveway blows. And we won’t even talk about cleaning his room. I was out working in the yard when he began blowing off the driveway. He had tied the blower cord and the extension cord in a knot to keep them connected as he tugged the cord around the driveway. As he stretched to the end of the driveway, the cord tangled with the poles on the carport and stuck. Rather than walking over to unhook it or trying to flip it free, he gave the cord a mighty yank and pulled the plug portion of the extension cord right off. The extension cord lay there on the driveway with the copper wires showing. The blower cord was still attached to the plug end of the extension cord. Lindsey, Brayden’s sister, and her friend were driving back from Salt Lake City and pulled up to the driveway at the precise moment Brayden bent over and picked up the end of the orange extension cord. He held it up and stared at the broken end of the cord, the wires hanging bare. “Einstein” then reached out and grabbed the copper wires. He shot up into the air twice as he threw the cord and yelled “ACK, ACK, ACK”. He then danced and spun around the driveway. He looked up and saw Lindsey sitting in the car watching. He yelled out at her, “THAT HURT LIKE SHIT!’ Lindsey, her friend, and I were thoroughly entertained by the whole performance. Later, Lindsey even attempted some re-enactments, although Brayden failed to see the humor. After we were all laughed out, I decided that Brayden needed to improve on his swearing abilities, as the ‘That hurt like shit’ comment is a bit troubling. Something just isn’t quite right. I could see that much improvement was needed and that I would have to call in an expert. I hope his mother can spare some time to work with him.