Friday, July 9, 2010

Car Jack

The heat in the Pacific Northwest is cooling tonight.

It's not as hot here in the boonies where I live.... which is across the water from the big cities where PI's like me find most of our business.

I take a boat every day from my predictable, isolated, little beach house...
to unpredictable heated streets where people get smashed, tempers flash and vehicles crash into each other all day, every day, day in, day out.
In the city, angry horns toot, guns shoot. Life's a crap shoot

It's like the the Wild West with a technological twist when you work big cities like Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue...
and some of the most rural areas imaginable.
Some of the places I go are like being in a Norman Rockwell painting.
Others are like being in Deliverance Land.

The minute my Trailblazer exits our nearly mile-long dirt road headed to the highway and the 7 minute drive to the ferry, my mindset immediate flips and the mood slips into a whole new trip.
The tree-hugger becomes the road warrior.
All senses go on high alert the minute I cross the soothing and surreal Puget Sound for the concrete seas called I-5, 405, 167 and all the numbered freeways I have come to know like an archeological grid.
It would all be fine and dandy were it not for the fact the roadway is a minefield filled with missiles,
Only these mines are visible.
So if you keep your eyes open, mind alert, both hands on the wheel... and pedal not too close to the metal, you got a fairly good shot of survival.

Today was unusual in a business that is always unusual...
except the "unusual" part was a personal case, not a business one.
Here's what happened.

I had to be in Seattle, then south, back up north and ultimately east.
The GPS and I figured maybe 120 miles round trip.

I launched on the first boat this morning when everyone was just waking up.
Including the sun.
First stop was a luxury I have been denying myself lately.
Starbucks drive thru.
Venti vanilla latte, two shots less vanilla, one extra shot expresso.
Then to work...
which began with a stop by one law firm that trusts me enough with a set of keys to drop off cases when they're closed.
I took the photos I needed at dawn.
Measured and sketched a scene before the traffic and the street people found their way there.

I stopped by one closed business to photograph it, it's exterior surveillance system and the building itself.

When I headed home, the ferry line was huge because my homelands are a tourist destination. The heat was an annoyance more than a problem, my car is always an office when there's a long wait.
I came home to an empty house and happy animals, ready to decompress when a knock came to the door.

It was friend of my ours, though really my husband's friend, who came by to borrow some tools.
He's one of those rare mountain guys, mostly ex-military or ship workers, who live by themselves on the raw and rugged Olympic Peninsula about 45 minutes to an hour away.
When they pass through they come by.
Unfortunately my husband was gone and he left his cell home.
The two couldn't connect so I opened the garage and helped him gather the tools.
When I asked Mark (a pseudonym) how he was, I got two words.
"Not good."
I gave two words back.
"What happened?"
"Just found a buddy of mine this morning dead under his truck this morning. He was all the way under it, damn jack failed."
"Whoa..." I said, "I'm so sorry. How old was he?"
"25 goddamn years old".
It is the silence, the truth usually emerges.
We waited, he talked.

"You know, the kid was like an apprentice to me. Knew him forever. And if there's one thing I said to him is this:

"You NEVER get under any car or truck that's jacked up WITHOUT your spare wheel in place against the frame in case it slips. The kid had nothing there. Just one flimsy floor jack. Hell, I even use a jack stand. I have one, he could've used mine"

"But noooo" Mark continued, "Instead of changing the tires in his own yard the right way, the kid did it the wrong way. He took a short cut. The car fell on him, crushed his rib cage, his sternum, and who knows what else. They found him three hours later."

"Rigor set in when they found him," Mark continued. The kind was totally blue. His legs were curled up underneath him. There was nothing they could do. "What a waste," Mark said as he lowered his head and shook it from side to side.

There was nothing else to say except, "I'm so sorry."

Mark thanked me, told me he'd  known the kid since his single mom moved into a trailer next door. Mark said the victim was an only child, who left the area for the city, but then returned and stayed close to home to take care of his aging mother.
It was her car she was fixing.

The lesson is this story is obvious.
Take every safety precaution possible to protect your very fragile body.
Because we only get one body, one life.

It's ways wise to expect the best and prepare for the worst.
All it would have taken to save the young man's life was the rubber tired he removed placed against the car frame.
He knew that.
Why he did not do that will remain a mystery.
Though I think it had something to do with being young and feeling invulnerable.

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