Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Boat

Copyright 2001 By Alan Burkhart

It was in 1992, if I remember correctly. I was chugging along I-70 in western Indiana, gabbing with another driver who was about a half mile in front of me. It was pretty late, probably ten or eleven o'clock. The guy was telling a joke when he suddenly exclaimed that there was a boat in the middle of the interstate. I saw his brake lights up ahead, and quickly slowed to a stop behind him and put on my emergency flashers. Sure enough, a twenty-foot pontoon boat was sitting crossways in the eastbound lane. His wife was on the CB warning other truckers of the dangerous situation, and he and I grabbed our flashlights and began flagging traffic. Someone went to a phone and called the cops, and before long two Indiana county mounties were on site with us.

The cops were as flabbergasted as we were. They sent word by radio ahead to look for someone pulling an empty or partially loaded boat trailer, and then we set ourselves to the task of shoving the thing out of the road. How the Hell anything that heavy can float is beyond me. It required both cops, the driver I was chatting with, two other drivers, and myself to finally get the boat off onto the shoulder of the road. By then, traffic was backed up for miles and there was little else we could do but sit and wait for the jam to untangle itself.

Word came by police radio that the driver hauling the boat had been found, and was under police escort back to the site of the incident. The cops onsite told me and the other driver (I can't recall his name) to wait. About a half hour later, the dude finally pulls up, acting bewildered as to how his boat could have slid from the trailer. The cops were not very understanding about it, nor should they have been. As I recall, one of them said something about writing him a ticket for "Stupid in a No-Stupid Zone".

I had thought it difficult enough just pushing the boat off of the highway. But when it came to lifting one end of the thing up onto the trailer so the driver could winch it back into place, I found out just how out of shape I was. That thing was HEAVY! We got it done, and everyone began to laugh at the silliness of the situation. The driver apologized repeatedly and promised to be more careful about tying his loads down in the future. The cops of course gave him a well-deserved citation, but he accepted it with good grace.

It wasn't until later that I began to think about how bad it could have been. What if a family had been following close behind him when the boat slipped its moorings? What if a loaded gasoline tanker had collided with it? It could have been a disaster. Fortunately it ended as well as it possibly could have, and I had yet another weird story to tell.

See y'all on the Road

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