Cletus called me on my cell phone the other day:
“Bob, can you please come pick me up from St. Francis hospital?”
“I fell and hit my head. Wilma brought me down here for stitches and oxygen but she had to leave to meet the tow truck back at the house.”
“Yeah, that new pickup has some damage to it and needs to go into the shop.”
“Didn’t you just get back from vacation this morning?”
“Sure did. Took the new pickup with its extended cab and had a great time.”
“So you had an accident on the way home?”
“Nope. Had an accident right at the house.”
“Who was driving?” I asked.
“No one was driving. The trailer on my John Deere lawn tractor hit the left front quarter panel and drove the sheet metal into the tire and now it can’t be driven.”
“Okay Cletus. Exactly what happened?”
“Well, before we went on vacation I pulled the John Deere lawn tractor into the garage with the little trailer attached to the back. After we got home this morning from vacation and unpacked I went down to the garage to back the tractor out and drive it back down to the pole barn. As you know I ain’t the best at backing things out, which is why even when I drive Wilma’s little compact car that I look for a pull-through parking space.
“Anyway, I’ve been working on backing the tractor up with the trailer hitched to it and I was determined to get it right this time. Before I went to the garage Wilma said, “Why don’t you just unhitch the trailer and push it out, then back the tractor out, then hitch the trailer back and drive it down to the pole barn?”
“I said, “No, I’m going to back that tractor and trailer out of that garage if it takes me all day.”
“So I cranked the tractor up and depressed the reverse pedal and back I went…but the trailer veered off to the left. So I went forward and straightened the trailer out and then depressed the reverse pedal again and the trailer veered off to the right. So I went forward and straightened things up again.
“Before I went in reverse again I tried to recall the YouTube video I’d watched about backing a trailer up. It looked easy on the video and I was sure I could do it. So once again I hit the reverse pedal and once again the trailer veered to the left; I went forward and backward and forward and backward and forward and backward and the trailer just wouldn’t cooperate.
“I started feeling pretty sleepy, and things around me were looking a bit fuzzy. I finally decided to unhitch the trailer and push it out on the driveway. Pushing it about wore me out because I had it loaded with bags of lime for the yard. Finally I got the trailer far enough out of the garage that I could back the tractor out.
“I got back on the tractor, depressed the reverse pedal, and turned around to see where I was going when…BANG!!!! The trailer rolled down the slopped driveway and rammed the front of the pickup. The next thing I knew I was sprawled on the floor and Wilma was standing over me asking “What happened? Are you okay? I’m calling 911.”
“I don’t recall much else until I realized I was stretched out in an ambulance with sirens going.”
“Cletus…what happened to you?”
“Seems running that tractor in the enclosed space just about killed me. I fell off the tractor, cracked my head on the concrete floor. I could have killed myself…and all because I didn’t know how to drive that tractor and its trailer in reverse. Now I’ve messed my head up and I’ve messed my truck up. Will you please come get me?”
“Cletus, I really really hate to tell you this…but I’m out of town. Can I call your brother Clyde to come get you?”