Famous Last Words (I Have But One)

(the first part of this story is back here)

We hopped into the car and I aimed it south toward home. In three hours, I’d be rid of Pickles. He’d go off to make someone else miserable. I’d have two glorious days off. Two days off to savor the little victory I’d won by restraining myself from snapping at him.

Highway To Fate (public domain image via wikimedia)

Then the unthinkable happened.

Pickles and I didn’t know it, but we were about to come face to face with Fate. Yes, I met Fate on Interstate 40 West. I can tell you that he looks horrific.


I was driving, Pickles was in the passenger seat. I was eager to get home and be rid of him. If I were to guess, I’d say that he felt the same way about me. I was at the limit of my tolerance for him. He had exceeded his quota of “well, actually” lectures. He was also at his limit for telling me what to do. Admittedly, two weeks of not expressing my irritation with him had made me unpleasant company.

Maybe I’m the only one that does this, maybe not. Sometimes, when I’m driving, I see a truck transporting something very large and I think about how bad it would be if that big thing fell off the truck. But that never happens, does it?

Well it happened to me and Pickles.

Deutsch: Ein Bulldozer basierend auf dem Trakt...

It looked like this, but brand new. And then…(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Interstate 40 West, we came up on a truck with a flatbed trailer. On the trailer was a bulldozer. It was brand new, with bright yellow paint and not a speck of dirt on it. We approached it from behind, it was going slow and I was driving at a speed commensurate with my desire to rid myself of Pickles.

Pickles and I had just a radio battle. I was driving and listening to music. He reached over and changed the station. No discussion, no “do you mind?” Click, new station in mid song. Civilized persons will recognize this as a clear violation of natural law. I changed it back to the station I’d been listening to. He started to reach again. I looked at him, he pulled his hand back.

It was at that point that we came up on the truck. I looked at the bulldozer and had my little “what if” moment. I can report to you that if a bulldozer falls off a truck at 55 mph it bounces.

Yes, it happened. I saw the bulldozer fall off the left side of the trailer. There was no traffic between our car and the truck, just open road and not much of that. The big machine bounced and when it hit the pavement for the second time it came apart into a blizzard of yellow metal parts. I’ve seen a lot. I have been scared. I have never seen anything that scared me more than the bouncing bulldozer.

Why Deny The Obvious, Child?

Pickles and I did not die that day, though I think that we were both certain we were going to. If we had, these would have been our last words:


I remember being terrified of the bulldozer, yet infuriated. I wasn’t mad at the truck driver, as I jerked the steering wheel to the left and hit the brakes. I was furious at Pickles, as the bulk of the machine slid by to our right. I knew that I should stop. I did not need any help with that decision. Nor did I want to be under the bulldozer. Once again, he was telling me what to do. I couldn’t stand for it and out came the word.

So, at the moment that I was sure I would be leaving this life, I had a last word that I am not proud of. I was raised better to tell anyone to shut up. Yet, on the day The Grim Reaper dressed as a flying bulldozer, not only did I say shut up, I screamed it at the top of my lungs.

I’m not proud of my last word, but I deny responsibility for it. Pickles made me say it. Every man has his limit. Mine is two weeks of that guy and one flying bulldozer.

Post Script

Since I know that a bulldozer can fall off a truck, I have prepared a suggested script. I’d like each of you to rehearse this in the event we encounter a tumbling bulldozer while I’m driving you somewhere.

Please practice your line at top volume.

  • You: Hey O, you’ve got this!
  • Me: I appreciate the affirmation!

I took the liberty of creating this visual representation of the flying bulldozer incident. Click to enlarge.


31 Comments on “Famous Last Words (I Have But One)”

  1. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    And, yet, I bet he didn’t shut up. Perhaps you had a small reprieve while he whimpered in the car after the incident. You must not be so hard on yourself, though. It takes a big man to avoid telling the truly annoying to shut up. It takes a big man to create a fake accident so that he can tell the truly annoying to shut up. You’re not only brilliant, but brilliantly devious. I stand/sit in awe.

    • omawarisan says:

      That’s it! The accident happened to give me relief! I thought it was bad luck.

      I go by that spot whenever I visit my son on campus. I still get a chill there. I can’t believe I saw that, I can’t believe I’m here to tell about it.

      And the thing is, he didn’t shut up. A few miles down the road I threatened to leave him on the side of the road. I’ve never ever done that to anyone else.

  2. “I looked at him, he pulled his hand back.”—Please post a picture of this look. I’m going to start flashing it around when I need it. I haven’t mastered that look yet. My look usually gets this response: “Are you angry? Cute!”

    So glad you survived the bouncing bulldozer!

    • omawarisan says:

      I’m kind of a low key guy, but I need to have some of that non-verbal communication stuff in my tool kit for work. Try this, it works for me. Look at your person and think as hard as you can “one of us needs to change your behavior”.
      Think it. THINK IT!!!! Yes, there it is!

  3. AiXeLsyD13 says:

    Incredible story, artfully told! I was wrong on my guesses. I had thought it was going to be “Pickles” or a swear word. Ha ha. I did not see “shut up” coming, and I didn’t see a story that was going to play out like a Final Destination movie trailer.

    Sometimes, when I’m driving, I see a truck transporting something very large and I think about how bad it would be if that big thing fell off the truck.

    I think about that too. Especially trucks with big logs or pipes.

    He reached over and changed the station. No discussion, no “do you mind?” Click, new station in mid song. Civilized persons will recognize this as a clear violation of natural law. I changed it back to the station I’d been listening to. He started to reach again. I looked at him, he pulled his hand back.

    This is a major pet peeve of mine. Messing with a man’s radio is like reaching over and grabbing the family jewels. Only acceptable if you’re the wife or a supermodel.

    I love the graphic, and now knowing that bulldozers bounce.

    “…on the day The Grim Reaper dressed as a flying bulldozer…” Classic!

    Fantastic tale, I’m glad you lived to tell it.

    • AiXeLsyD13 says:

      Also, I was clipped by an 18-wheeler on an icy highway once in the wee hours of the morning. Did you see everything in slow motion? I did as I was spinning around like a pinball. Crazy. It’s like you have time to see it happen, but are useless to react. I like your script for encouragement. Perhaps if rehearsed, it could help out many others in the future.

      • omawarisan says:

        I’ve had a number of slow motion moments, it’s actually a documented thing that your body does. Supposedly it is good…except when you’re spinning and it feels like it takes 10 minutes to stop.

        Yes, you just don’t change the music on someone. If you don’t like the song, there is one coming right after it.

        • AiXeLsyD13 says:

          It’s a documented thing? I did not know that. Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader ought to get on this. It’s where I get all of my usefully useless information.

  4. Lenore Diane says:

    Holy dirt digger, Batman! That was scary! No more – no more will I think about ‘what if’, because I have wondered what would happen if the ‘Over-sized Load’ went kerplunk-kerplooey.

    And “shut up”? Oma, if my Mom ever heard her kids say ‘shut up’, we would get in so much trouble. She tolerated many things, but she did NOT tolerate ‘shut up’. Had I been Pickle, I would have responded with, “A woooo wooo… I’m telling Mum, and you’re gonna be in trou-ble!”

    • omawarisan says:

      Your Mom too? Shut up was on the list of things that were not said. We called them s-words because so many of them started with s.

      I’m going to go call my Mom and apologize for this post, even though it wasn’t my fault. Pickles is just stupid…oh no, another s-word!

      • Lenore Diane says:

        Ha! We were not allowed to say ‘stupid’ either.
        The only ‘curse’ word I heard my Mom utter – ever – was, and it was said this way… “ssshhhh’ugar.”

  5. Laura says:

    Well, actually, “shut up” is a two-word phrase.

    Once when I was a kid, I was riding in a car on, I think, a 4-lane freeway. A little ahead of us in the lane to our left was a big flatbed truck carrying a huge pile of metal pipes (each pipe was almost as long as the truck bed). And then the truck went around a curve and tipped over (to the left, away from us), and all the pipes rolled off. At least one of them hit a car and left a huge dent in the roof. No one was actually hurt, but it was pretty spectacular. It was the first time I’d experienced that thing where time seems to slow down.

    • omawarisan says:

      Well actu….hey, wait a minute…

      When I drive next to those pipe trucks I think about the sound it would make. If I’m honest with myself, I know it’s not like 30 foot long wind chimes.

      The slow down thing is real.

      • Laura says:

        Weirdly, in my memory it was completely silent. Even if the car windows were closed, I’m sure there would have been some sound. I think I was just completely focused on what I was seeing.

  6. Debbie says:

    Glad you lived to tell the tale, Oma! Yep, my folks never appreciated the “shut up” phrase, either. But in this case, I suspect Mr. Pickles is fortunate you didn’t say more! I think he got off REAL easy. I’ve always feared following things that are toting other things, particularly cars hauling boats, pickup trucks hauling furniture, flatbed trucks hauling logs, etc. I’ve never before heard of those things actually falling off — now I know it can happen. Yikes!

    • omawarisan says:

      Sorry to break the news to you. But if it ever does happen near you, just start yelling and drive like mad, you’ll be fine.

      I did end up saying more. I extended an olive branch a few miles down the road and got a well actually. It wasn’t pretty.

  7. Actually, knowing that the bouncing bulldozer missed you makes you saying “Shut up” really hilarious.

    • omawarisan says:

      Yeah, because if it hadn’t, Pickles would have told my mom. Let’s face it, if a bulldozer is going to hit one out of two, Pickles is the guy that walks away.

  8. My Odd Family says:

    A bulldozer bounces off a truck and flys at you while you are traveling with the companion from hell and your last words are “shut-up?” I don’t say shut up and I don’t swear but I can easily and without a doubt imagine myself adding “the” after the word shut and another very rude word before up.
    It was Pickles fault and his good fortune that you did not reach over, open his door and push him out the other side. What a great story!

    • omawarisan says:

      OK, it’s time for the untold part of the story:

      After we got back in the car to resume the trip we were quiet. I decided, given that we were both almost smashed to death together, to speak.

      I said something about how I couldn’t believe a bulldozer could bounce. He replied “fork lift”. I said “what?” He comes out with “Actually, it was a fork lift”. I told him he was wrong. He kept saying fork lift.

      I have never done this before or since. I’ve never even threatened it. I started pulling over to the side of the road to put him out of the car. He asked what I was doing and I told him. He said he would call the office and tell them what I did. I offered him a quarter to pay for the call. I eventually got back on the road. He didn’t say a word for the next 2 and half hours.

      I’m not proud of having lost my cool, I’m sort of known for maintaining it. You can’t argue with the results though.

  9. We Found Him Captain! says:

    Oh boy! Thank God you didn’t get hurt! Do me a favor and don’t ever again go anywhere with “Pickles”.

  10. Mad illustration skills, O!

    Miscellaneous thoughts from a very tired reader. . . .

    Why Deny the Obvious, Child

    I don’t know what’s wrong with me that in the middle of such a riveting tale, while you were facing death by bulldozer, I wanted to jump out of my chair, cheer, do cartwheels, and buy you the cold beverage of your choice for that comma. Thank you.

    He started to reach again. I looked at him, he pulled his hand back.

    Is it reasonable to assume the subtext of The Look was more, “I don’t expect to be treated like a fool no more” than “Don’t make me turn this car around”?

    I was driving at a speed commensurate with my desire to rid myself of Pickles
    If a flying bulldozer were to come at me, I would surely rid myself of Pickles.

    Every time I read “Pickles” in this post, I giggled. When the audio version of your book comes out, Pickles might make a fun drinking game.

    Hey, O! You’ve got this!

  11. […] Famous Last Words (I Have But One) […]

  12. The Jagged Man says:

    My Bride is the Queen of “What If…” so no you are not the only one. I now carry this thought as well By the way if something as horrifying as a bulldozer fell off in front of me SHUUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTUUUUUUUUUUP! would be , well tame to that I would have said. More along the line of “Soup Bones”………..

  13. How funny…shut up has always been unallowed in my home – the one growing up and the current one. When we were young my sister and I used to say instead, “please shut up” as if it made it okay. It was politer.

  14. dufmanno says:

    At least you didn’t say “Kurt Russell”.
    Anyway, I find it heartwarming that you feel the need to apologize for losing your cool and telling a foolish blowhard to shut up. If it were me there would have been a horrific bloodbath prior to the bulldozer incident. If that hadn’t finished pickles off, I would have used an evasive driving maneuver to push the passenger side of the vehicle dangerously close to the flying debris just to make my point. Clearly you are the better person.

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