A Wheel Windfall


PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast

Update on Mishap at Diameter Park:

The installer insists fault lies with the manufacturer. The thickness of the wheel must be greater on one side and they weren’t alerted to this flaw.

The manufacturer blames the mishap on installation. Their spokesman is adamant the steel was uniform in thickness and the wheel totally balanced when shipped.

The parents are suing the plaintiffs for $3 million compensation for trauma and minor abrasions suffered when the wheel toppled as their child leaned against it. Says the father, “Our lawyer suggested a million each for us and our son, and a million for him. We’re going with that.”

Judge’s decision is pending.

I wrote this one Thursday, but my husband’s minor surgery Friday and my minor throat infection waylaid my good intentions to post it on time. However, seeing others are still posting their stories, I’ll take courage and offer my bit of fiction, too.

With profuse thanks to  Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting Friday Fictioneers and special thanks to Jennifer Pendergast who offered, and holds the copyright for, this image. I’m sure she never intended this pleasant scene to result in a law suit — but I took one look at it and just couldn’t resist. 🙂


Beware of Broken Bones!

My ONLY Chance!

We were living near Stratford, Ontario when this incident happened. It was a bitterly cold evening in January and we’d just finished supper when our thirteen-year-old daughter got a phone call. As she talked we could see by the gleam in her eye that someone was offering an enticing activity. We heard her say she would ask, and saw how excited she was as she hung up the phone.

It turns out some of the teens were going tobogganing that evening and wondered if she would like to go along. We frowned. “I just have to go,” she told us. “They hardly ever ask me.”

The temperature had been around -40 degrees that day — C or F, at that depth there’s no difference —and now it was dark. We had our reservations…

“Please,” she begged. “This will be my ONLY chance this winter. If I don’t go tonight, they may never ask me again!”

Reluctantly we agreed. After all, who were we to ruin our daughter’s social life forever for a few safety concerns? So friends who lived near us came to get her, loaded up her toboggan and drove to the hill where the activity was to take place; a number of thirteen- to seventeen-year-olds were already gathered with their equipment. One of their “sleds” was actually a tractor tire inner tube they sat on — and hung on for dear life —  as they flew down the hill.

The phone call came about eight-thirty — a friend who lived across from the hill called on his way to the hospital — saying he was taking our daughter to emergency. She and another girl were going down on this inner tube when they hit a bump and both went flying. The other girl was alright, but our daughter had been hurt. He didn’t think there was too much to be concerned about, but we’d want to come and check on her.

When the sun shines during the day and the temperature drops so low after sundown, the melted surface snow forms glare ice, rock hard. This was what she’d come down on, head and one shoulder first. She’d been knocked unconscious. The young people, not knowing what else to do, had grabber her arms and dragged her up to the top of the hill again.

Our friend told us that when she’d come to again, at the top of the hill, she was complaining that her shoulder hurt. Being dragged uphill by your arms would make for some hurts, but I immediately became concerned for fear she’d broken her collar bone. My Mom Forsyth was a St John’s Ambulance instructor for years and I learned from her that you must NEVER move a person with broken bones.

(Health fact: You can actually KILL a person by moving them when they have a broken collar bone. The broken bone can pierce the jugular vein and they bleed to death.)

Bob rushed to the hospital; I had to stay home because some girls were coming over — I forget why. He phoned later to tell me that she was still groggy and that an x-ray showed she had a broken collar bone. I fretted and fumed after the fact, alternating between thanking God she was still alive and wishing someone had known something about first aid.

It was indeed the last time that winter that she went tobogganing. It took a few weeks for her broken bone to heal. Also, we learned later that another woman, mother to some of the school children, had taken their class tobogganing that afternoon and had more or less the same mishap on a toboggan, flying off and breaking her collar bone. The owner of the property said, “Enough of this,” and closed that hill to tobogganers for the rest of the winter.


6. I am a worry wart.

We parents were car-pooling and it was my turn so I was picking up the group of school children at 3:30pm to drive them home.  As they piled into the back seat, I told them, “Be sure and buckle up your seat belts.”

To further impress their young minds with the need for this bothersome safety device, I added, “Because if we’re in an accident, you’d go flying through the windshield.”

The one girl turned to the boy beside her and said, “My dad has a name for people like that.  He calls them worry-warts.”

I had to smile.  If I didn’t know any more than you do right now, I wouldn’t be a worry-wart, either.

Ignorance really is bliss.  But when I was in Grade 7 a carful of teens from our city went to some function at a neighbouring one and on the way home they had an accident.  We heard that one girl had flown out the front windshield and skidded some hundreds of yards along the pavement on her face.  So not pretty!

One young mother I met in my teens would have been really pretty in her youth, but skidding on black ice one winter evening and hitting a huge maple tree had done its damage.  She was thrown through their car windshield, then fell back in again over that jagged glass.  That ripped off her nose and cut her face badly.  Doctors did what they could for cosmetic repair, but the scars were still there.

So I worry when people don’t take safety seriously.  Safety devices have been developed because so many people have been killed or maimed without them.  Seat belts, collapsible steering columns, more visible signals, head rests, running lights, air bags, etc., have made driving so much safer than it was when I was a teen, but thousands of people have paid for these with their blood.  “Lest we forget.”

I also fret over the foolishness some people indulge in, stunts and practical jokes with the potential to go very wrong.  Back in Grade 7 some students asked our Home Room teacher if we could play April Fool’s Day jokes on him, but he shook his head, saying, “My sister died as a result of an April Fool’s Day joke and I want no part of pranks.”

In Ontario we heard the story of one young couple, how on their wedding day the groom played a practical joke on his bride.  As she went to sit down at the reception meal, just to be silly he pulled the chair out from under her so she fell on the floor – and cracked her back.  He pushed her around in a wheel chair from that day on.  A moment of “fun” with a lifelong price tag!

I see teens doing stunts or wheelies on motor bikes and I shudder.  One false move and that bike could scoot out from under him, he’d be lying on his back on the pavement with at least a big headache, maybe even a broken back.  Spending your life paralysed from the neck down would be a terrible price to pay for the thrill of show-off glory.

One time I pulled into a gas station and the young man attendant had just taken possession of his brand new motorbike.  He was telling me about it and eyed it admiringly most of the time he was filling my tank.  Then he asked me, “Do you know anyone who has a motor bike?”

I searched for tactful words.  “I used to know people who had motor bikes.”

He looked at me silently for a moment, then said, “They’re dead, right?”

“That’s right.”

If I had to count up all the people I’ve known who were killed on motorbikes, or who’ve had children killed on motorbikes…  Like my husband’s cousin.  He was a skilled, careful, mature biker, but his front tire blew while he was going over an overpass and he was thrown head first into a cement guard rail.  There are no seatbelts for bikers.

A few days ago I read James’ testimony on his blog* and I rest my case about motor bikes: if you can’t even SIT on one without getting killed maybe they should be banned– like peanuts on airplanes?  (*http://menofoneaccord.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/a-son-off-the-edge/  So thankful the EMTs were there to bring you back, James!)

I’m not a total worrywart.  I don’t lose sleep over dreadful things that might befall me.  I’m not especially germ-conscious; for five years I served customers and cleaned in a café and didn’t worry about contracting AIDS.  “Do what you can to be careful and trust God for the rest” is my motto; a person can’t hide in the house for fear of accidents.  (The son of a friend died at home in his own bathroom when he fell –after a mini-stroke?– and his head hit the toilet bowl.)

So buckle up.  Drive sensibly.  Take proper precautions.  Turn off the machine before poking your fingers in.  Don’t try stupid stunts.  Above all, pay attention to those little hunches or nudges that tell you to stop, turn aside, go back and check, avoid this person/street/whatever.  God may be trying to protect you from harm.

Have a good day. ☺

And I’ll say a prayer instead of worrying.