Two Outa Three Ain’t Bad
Three stories of danger and suspense from my past, two of which actually happened
Ann Litts tagged me for a writing challenge:
So without further ado, three catastrophic incidents from my life, in chronological order:
- I was in a boat crash (1973). My family’s boat (30-foot Chris Craft wooden cabin cruiser) was speeding back to harbor after my father picked up storm warnings on marine radio. The day had been warm and sunny, perfect weather for impending Sturm und Drang during summers on Lake Michigan. Fog had gradually developed, but we maintained a high speed (probably only about 10 knots — those old boats were built for comfort, not speed) because we could see at least half a mile to port and starboard and we did not want to be caught in open water. What we did not realize (my father because of inexperience, me because I was 15 years old) is that fog can pile up close to shore… a fact we became aware of as the shoreline popped up less than fifty yards away. We drove into the seawall at speed; the wooden bow stove in, bringing the boat to an abrupt halt and resulting in me flying over the bow and landing on the hard sandy ground. My father impacted the boat’s steering wheel and console, resulting in several broken ribs, then a mild concussion when he hit the deck with his head. My father spent a few days in the hospital, but I was relatively unhurt.
- I was in a plane crash (1982). I was flying back to Submarine Base New London on a civilian aircraft on a dark and stormy February night (very dark, and the flight had been delayed due to a winter storm). As we made the final approach into Groton/New London Airport, we got a gust of wind up the tail (wind shear), our airspeed dropped below stall speed, and our plane (commercial eight-passenger light prop) dropped like a rock and proceeded to bounce through half-frozen marsh until it came to a stop. Despite my seat belt, I banged my head (well, my face) on the pilot’s seat in front of me; I ended up with a traumatic brain injury, broken nose, three broken ribs, broken wrist and thumb, and broken foot. The only occupant banged up worse than I was the pilot in the seat in front of me.
- I was in a train crash (2000). I was sitting next to my five-year-old nephew when the train we were riding jumped the track, hurtling across a grassy expanse and into a refreshment stand. Fortunately this was at the Dutch Wonderland amusement park, the train was actually a kiddy ride that had been going maybe five miles an hour, there was a slight upward slope that killed our speed once we jumped the track, and the ice cream vendor hustled people out of the way before the engine ran into his cart (which did not even tip over). Our nephew looked up at me and his first words were, “Are you okay, Uncle Jack?” (He is now almost thirty, and still has that concern for other people first.) His aunt and older sister (who were not on the train ride, because it looked “too boring”) were much more excited, however. The park’s medical response team showed up promptly, but no one was hurt, and we ducked out before the lawyers had a chance to make their appearance.
So! Two of the above are true, and one of them is false. Post which story you think is false in the responses, and then invite five writers to play along. Please tag me too!
Invites to Harry Hogg (Harry’s interesting life can easily provide three stories, equally implausible but all true — just pick two, good sir); Classical Sass (just to get her back writing something quick & easy on Medium); Molly Martin (because Molly tells interesting stories, so why not make one up?); James Finn (to take your mind off the world’s troubles, Jim, and because you’ve Been Places); and Clay Rivers (for all the above reasons).