An Atheist Brush With Death

I grew up a Harry Chapin fan – one of the many things I owe to my father.
Harry had a song called 30,000 pounds of Bananas – certainly not his most popular song, like Taxi, or Cats’ in the Cradle – but I always loved it.  It was the story – Harry always sang stories – of a truck driver hauling 30,000 pounds of bananas into Scranton Pennsylvania.  As he’s coming out of the mountains heading into Scranton – he finds out, at an inopportune moment, that he’s lost his brakes.  Harry sings:
He barely made the sweeping curve that led into the steepest grade.
And he missed the thankful passing bus at ninety miles an hour.
And he said “God, make it a dream!”
as he rode his last ride down.
And he said “God, make it a dream!”
as he rode his last ride down.
And he sideswiped nineteen neat parked cars,
clipped off thirteen telephone poles,
hit two houses, bruised eight trees,
and Blue-Crossed seven people.
it was then he lost his head,
not to mention an arm or two before he stopped.
And he slid for four hundred yards
along the hill that leads into Scranton, Pennsylvania.
All those thirty thousand pounds of bananas.
That’s about what I felt like today outside of Scranton Pennsylvania.  My wife and I were returning from Syracuse New York.  We had dropped off our 20 year old back at school following shoulder surgery – he wasn’t in a position to drive himself back to school.  So we’re heading back home to Maryland afterward, driving the I-81 to I-83 South as we’ve done so many times before, when we were run off the road by a flatbed 18 wheeler!
Here’s the situation.  We’re coming around a bend, we’re in the right lane, car passes on the left, we move into the left lane behind the passing car – we’re both passing the flatbed truck that’s in the right lane.  The car in front of me clears the 18 wheeler – I’m almost to the cab when I notice his turn indicator come on – he’s coming over and there’s at least 25 feet of flatbed along side of me!  I lay on my horn – drive left onto the very small shoulder when I hear Ellen scream and I realize that unless I commit to the median the flatbed is going to wipe out the right side of my car – which happens to contain my wife…
A portion of the median we traveled on today, only snow covered!
Now I’m in the median – it’s about 30 feet wide between the north and southbound lanes of traffic.  We’re in the mountains – on a downward slope and it’s covered by about 4-6 inches of snow.  I’m doing about 70 miles per hour!  The view in front of me is a bumpy white blanket of snow.  I’m pumping my brakes, but all that I’m getting out of that is a fishtail – my back end starts going left and I’m sure the car is going to catch a bump in the ground and send us toppling over.
As I regained control of the car – straightened us out and came to a slow enough speed to get us back on the highway it dawned on me – I never once had a passing thought about god – although I truly thought this might be it.  Unlike the truck driver in the Chapin song – I never thought about praying for supernatural intervention – I just trusted in my ability to navigate the terrain and get us out of the situation safely – not a clear proposition for a good 15 seconds by the way!
So the point of all this is really two-fold.  First and foremost – it’s to draw attention to the truck driver that ran us off the road.  Over half the people that visit my blog arrive here through google searches!  We were able to catch up to the “gentlemen” in Scranton and found that he drives for S. L. Presley Trucking.  His trailer had Pennsylvania license plates PT-05682L.  His rig was licensed in New York, AE-13025.
S.L. Presley has one employee – making it an owner-operated company belonging to one Steven L. Presley, who operates his business out of his home at 11251 Anthony Highway, Waynesboro, PA 17268; with a phone number of 717-765-8054.
I called that number this evening and spoke to a man claiming to be his brother.  He became extremely belligerent when I accused his brother of running me off the road and almost killing my wife and I.  I informed him I would be contacting the US Department of Transportation, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and whatever other agency I can possibly contact in order to get him off the highways of Pennsylvania. 
I’m hoping that anyone that googles S.L. Presley in the future finds this blog prominent in the returns and finds that Mr. Presley is a reckless driver that is unworthy of their business.
But on top of all this – both Ellen and I were amazingly reassured in our views towards a supernatural deity watching over us!  Neither of us, when faced with a no kidding moment(s) of death, thought to reach out to a “god” to save us.  Call it our Hitchen’s moment – that period of time when death is hanging right over you and you think – man, I better cover that base, just in case…
Maybe if only the Broncos would have beat the Patriots Saturday – I might have changed my tune…alas, order in the universe was restored.  Tebow sill threw for a 3 and a 1 and a 6, only it resulted in 136 instead of 316.  Patriots won and there is still no god…:)
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One Response to An Atheist Brush With Death

  1. Sean Asbury says:

    Mission one of the blog was accomplished! We received the following e-mail last night!"My wife and I were right behind you (in a blue Suburban) and saw the whole incident today on I-81. We are very glad to hear that you are okay. Our family was horrified by the way that truck ran you off the road and then kept going. We noticed that he had been driving aggressively and erratically for several miles. We caught up with the truck immediately afterwards and called 911 and were put through to the state police who took down the license number of the trailer as well as the name of the trucking company. We later googled the name of the trucking company and that lead us to your blog.For what it's worth, we happen to be Christians and did say a quick prayer of thanks to God that you were able to bring your car under control. It looked pretty dicey there as we watched the incident unfold.I would hope that the state police would follow up regarding this incident. We gave them our cell number, but let us know if you ever need us to provide a witness report. The driver should definitely have his license revoked."

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