Issue 252 — The Paregien Journal — January 26, 2012
A Rude Awakening at 70 mph
by Stan Paregien Sr.
Picking up from my last blog, . . . our son and his wife and his son Daniel (a senior in high school) and his girlfriend Haley and Peggy and I grabbed a quick bite of breakfast at our motel in Branson, Missouri in the wee, dark hours of Saturday, December 24, 2011.
We had been there for two days and nights, attending shows and kicking around town visiting antique stores and such. It had been a very nice, relaxing time. But now it was time to saddle up and head back to our son’s house in Waterloo, Illinois (across the state line from St. Louis, Missouri). There were early afternoon appointments and obligations to meet, so hi-ho, hi-ho, off toward their home we did go.
And then one of life’s many unexpected and unwanted incidents happened on the dark and deserted interstate as we headed north from Branson to Springfield. At about 6:38 a.m., approximately two miles from downtown Branson, a deer ran across the highway and directly into our path.
Wham! And it was all over.
Stan Jr was driving and only had a fraction of a second’s view of the unfortunate animal as it jumped out of the darkness. Stan Jr automatically drew upon his military training about driving through danger and held their van steady in our lane of traffic. I was sitting in the front passenger seat and saw only two or three deer hooves flash by the bottom of the front windshield. And for a few seconds I was dealing with my fresh cup of hot coffee that spilled over my shirt and jeans. I thought, briefly, that it might be some other kind of warm liquid but, no, it was my coffee.
No one saw anything more of the deer. We did not feel it rolling under the car, nor did we see it go up and over the front windshield. But we found patches of hair on the back on the van, so we assumed it was thrown over the van. We did not stop because it was coal black and our radiator was spewing steam all over the place. We knew we could not get very far.
Fortunately, there was an exit about one-half mile up the road. Stan Jr guided the wounded buggy down the exit ramp with the steering starting to lock up and the radiator steam still gushing. He hung a left and stopped at a convenience store/gas station just a quarter-mile further. Turns out that store was across the street from a big shopping center with a Best Buy store at the end, if you’re familiar with that area.
We parked the van away from the front of the store. Then all of us walked briskly in the morning freeze into the convenience store. There we met a very helpful clerk named Cindy. She checked to see whether anyone was hurt (no one was), then told us to help ourselves to coffee or other drinks. Then she offered to call the police and a wrecker and a car rental company. And, more than that, she offered her sympathy and her concern.
“We have a club room back here in the back for some fisherman, so you just unload your van and sit in there as long as you need to.” Wow, she was an angel.
Becky, our daughter-in-law, called her insurance company and reported the accident. They said they would contact a local wrecker to pick up the car, probably in 45 minutes or so. It turned out to be “or so” plus another hour. She finally called the insurance company back, to ask when the wrecker would arrive, and the new rep could find no record of the original report or of any wrecker being called. That was not what we wanted to hear.
Meanwhile, our new friend Cindy got off her night shift and was replaced by a young man named Joe. Turned out that Joe, the son of the owners of the convenience store, was genuinely concerned about us, too. Thank you, Lord, for two very nice folks to help us through a very stressful four hours.
Being on a Saturday and the day of Christmas Eve, the car rental did not open until 9 am. But when it did open, our new friend Joe drove Stan Jr and Becky a few miles to the car rental office. The place was jammed. They had only one van available (and we had six people and lots of luggage), and we got it. Thank you, Lord, for that “coincidence”.
Finally, the wrecker came and hauled away the damaged van. The driver told us he sees the end result of deer-auto accidents on a fairly regular basis in that area. He offered his personal assessment that the repair shop could fix the bumper, radiator, hood and various belts and pulleys. He did not think the van was totaled. And, as it turned out, he was right. The van was ready a week later and it “only” cost $4,800 to patch it up.
We finally left the city limits of Branson, Missouri more than four hours behind schedule. Somehow those important appointments back at their home just didn’t really matter much, not really. We just thanked the Lord that we were all safe and still able to travel together.
By the way, some of you will be glad to know that the son of the late Roy Rogers is still performing in Branson, though the Roy Rogers Museum & Theater vanished with a few strokes of the auctioneer’s gavel. Roy Rogers Jr (aka Dusty Rogers) and his son Dustin and their band now perform at the The Mickey Gilley Theater, while the historic group Sons of the Pioneers (a group that Roy Sr helped found in the 1930s) now perform regularly at the Shepherd of the Hills in the Pavilion Theater.
Oh, one more thing. I have had fun a couple of Sunday mornings playing the part of “Cowboy Casey” for a pre-school class at our church. Each time I have ridden my stick horse, “Happy,” several laps around the small lake (i.e., blue sheet) there in the class room. They really like to do the cowboy yell, “Yee haw!!” Lots of fun for all of us. One more Sunday morning to go.
Gotta go for now. See ya soon.
–Stan Paregien Sr
QUOTE FOR TODAY
Verily, when the day of judgment comes, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done. — Thomas A. Kempis, German theologian (1380-1471).