My house has a driveway DOWN to it. Almost a 40 degree angle drive down the lane to end in a parking area beside the house. Downhill. Like, if you come here and it rains or snows or your tires are bald...you'd better have brought jammies and plan on spooning with a dog.
This driveway has given us a ton of problems. None so much as we had the other day.
Fade to flashback.
Our 1979 John Deere lawn tractor has taken a shit. Not a massive one - more like little rabbit pebbles, but enough to make the lawn not get short. It needed a new belt or two - and possibly just a hug from a capable mechanic. Since I can't strap the bastard to the trunk of my Focus and my husband's little toy Sonoma is worthless in truck terms we had the option of borrowing a real truck, ramps and taking it to the shop ourselves OR paying the $30 pick up fee. No brainer. Pay the fee.
The pickup was set, and luckily my husband was home for the exchange - because he honestly would not have believed the events that unfolded that afternoon had he not been there and seen with his own eyes.
I was inside working when I heard the guy come down the drive for the pickup. Quiet. Truck starts back up. Quiet again. All is well - goodbye little tractor, we'll see you soon. Back to work.
An hour later, my husband comes back inside sweating and cussing. "He's gone and torn up the yard and gotten himself stuck." What? He's still here? I head to the window.
Apparently, the company whose charge is to repair farm implements only has 2-wheel drive vehicles and super-weight, exceedingly long trailers. A deadly combination on our property. He had apparently pulled into the yard (soaked from recent rain and runoff from the surrounding land and not drying because of the shade of our woods) to turn the trailer around. For those that have not dealt with such a thing - 2 wheel drive trucks pulling large trailers need to have traction and lots of it. He was stuck. Stupid stuck. Spinning wheels, slinging mud, stuck stuck stuck.
My husband called our neighbor who has a truck identical to the one quickly becoming a lawn ornament. Staying on the gravel pad, he was able to first pull the trailer out of the way and then the truck.
This is what was left:
At this point, the driver was flustered, but not frustrated. He remained amazingly calm through the ordeal. My husband maintained his "good-ol-boy" mode and suggested that the guy call for a 4X4 to get the trailer. The driver insisted on trying to BACK up my driveway. With an 18 foot trailer. And obviously no experience.
Holding my 9 month old child, I stand at the opposite end of the parking lot watching this inept driver nearly park a $30,000 trailer in the ravine beside my drive. He was skidding and slinging gravel all over to boot. Each time he'd come down to speed up the hill again - my husband would tell him to wait for a 4X4...again and again.
Aside from what every ounce of my being would prefer to do, I allowed my husband to calmly, yet sternly, request that the man stop tearing up the driveway we are constantly fighting to stabilize. I promised myself that if he tries one more time to back up the drive, I'm stepping in.
When he returned down the hill after his third and final near-skid into oblivion. He headed down the hill and took a wide turn in the lot and got the trailer positioned for a forward launch up the hill (mind you, our lawn tractor is still parked beside the garage). He didn't even stop. He shot up the hill. And up. And up.
Then. It. Happened.
Sweetbabyjesus - the. trailer. let. go. of. the. truck.
I had a moment of clarity - like slow motion meets McGyver - holding my infant close. My chainsaw training had not failed me this time. Rule #1 Escape roots should be at a 45 degree angle behind you. I had two options - run toward the woods through weeds or run behind the house. House = structure = road block.
I ran faster than fast. Bionic woman noises could be heard for miles.
I didn't even assess the damage. My husband (who had been standing beside me before I channeled television shows from my childhood) was going to deal with the damage. I ran inside grabbed the cordless phone which the goddamnfuckingidiot had used to call his supervisor when he tore the yard up. He was going down.
The poor soul that answered had a raging lunitic on his hands.
Me (voice shaking in the way it only does as to release the steam that would otherwise make my head explode): "Hello. Listen to me carefully. I don't know what you do there, but I need you to listen to what happened and tell the highest supervisor on duty. I don't have time to wait. You need to send a 4 wheel drive here NOW. Your idiot driver, after destroying my yard, just let a trailer LOOSE and let it come flying down the hill into my house. Now GO GO GO." Response: "ok, um, hold please"
The back door opened and the driver walked into the house and nearly demanded that I give him MY phone. Fuck him, he's busted. I toss him the phone. "Your boss is going to be on the line, it's on hold now."
I may not know exactly what to say all the time and I may stutter when I do know what to say...but in this moment the adrenaline had me covered.
I walk outside to see if there is a trailer half inside my step-son's bedroom - or perhaps the office in which I had been working and my daughter been playing before curiosity got the best of us about an hour before.
What I saw immediately made me realize that with all the events of the day, we are the luckiest people on earth. (This picture was taken after he came back out and attempted - against the urging of my husband to wait - to remove the trailer himself)
Our garden fence, planted securely in packed clay soil, had taken the entire blow of the trailer. The only damage was a couple broken pieces of siding! The point of contact with the house is less than 10 feet from where I had been working. My daughter was sitting between me and that wall.
I was relieved on the inside - and livid on the outside. My calming force, my daughter, was the only reason I didn't try and rip the guy's throat out. Even though, he STILL was calm and collected. Apologizing like "Sorry" was punctuation.
At the suggestion of the driver's supervisor, we called the cops to come file a report. The cop and a supervisor (with a 4 wheel drive truck) arrived. It was agreed that it was the implement company's responsibility to repair the damage. They loaded the lawn tractor onto the oversized and undamaged trailer and headed out.
The driver, a retired banker, no longer has a job. According to the supervisor, the driver said that he "didn't know what the chains on the front of the trailer were for." This had not been his first issue on safety.
The next week, we had a fixed tractor (no charge). The week after, we had a new fence and perfectly matched patch siding. Almost all of our tomato, pepper, and zucchini plants are bearing fruit.
We count ourselves lucky. We were all safe, the damage was minimal, and we had cold beer ready for consumption. It was a rough day, but it could have ended with much worse than a pile of wood and a few muddy ruts.