If you ask a lot of people what the stupidest thing they ever did in their life was, most people are going to have to stop and think about it. Some people won’t know.
For me, it’s easy. As a matter of fact I could probably list one through ten without much thought. Let me tell about number one.
I live on a farm 20 minutes north of town. It was a weekday night in February 1998. It had begun to snow in that sad sickly way that starts with freezing rain. There were important things going on at the office the next day and more snow forecast, so I planned on driving my 1979 Chevy 4WD.
This truck is equipped with a plow.
The hydraulic lift on the plow has a leak.
Driving this truck in the best of conditions ain’t exactly easy. It used to be an automatic, now it has a Ford 3 speed manual jury-rigged into it. The clutch mostly works, and it sways like a drunk over the slightest bump. With a plow on the front, it’s as scary as hell. Not only does it catch all the wind, and push you around, but the leaky hydraulics mean that at any moment the plow could fall down and catch pavement at 60 mph. I call this effect “unintentional braking.”
To avoid this, I decided to load the plow (all 300 pounds of it) into the back of the truck. No weird aerodynamics and the added weight would give me stability.
In the driveway I unhooked the plow, turned the truck around and backed it up for easy loading. I tilted the plow face down so the open end was on the ground and started to lift one side. In spite of the slippery conditions I got one end into the bed of the truck.
At this point in time I went around to the other side of the plow and performed the single stupidest act of my entire life.
Anybody who knows how to walk will understand that the only thing that kept the plow from sliding off the truck was the friction of it’s edge against the blacktop. As soon as I lifted there was no more friction.
With almost casual disdain the plow slid off the truck, pushed me over backwards and pinned me against the driveway, covering my entire body neatly in the concave space between plow and blacktop. From tips of toes to shoulders I was pinned. Though unhurt I coldn’t move.
I laid there face up to the freezing rain which produced a maddening itch on my nose. For 20 minutes or so I was able to reflect on my stupidity, and idly wonder if it was going to finally kill me. The pressure was such that I couldn’t even wriggle. All I could do was murmmer “…help,” while the dogs watched me disinterestedly.
Finally my wife came out to see what I was doing. After 3 years of trying we had just learned she was pregnant.
“Are you ok?” she asked.
“…help,” I said.
“What are you doing?”
“Are you stuck?”
“How did you do that?”
“I can’t move that. How’d you get under there?”
“I’ll go see if Woody’s home.”
Walking carefully across the ice she goes up to the house and futzes around for a few minutes, before getting in her car to get the neighbor.
I stare at the rain.
Five mintues later she comes back.
“There’s nobody home, but I called 911. Somebody’s coming.”
“…please,…help,” It’s hard to breathe now. My legs and arms have pins and needles in them, I feel sleepy.
“This is your own fault. How did you get under there?” She studies me for a moment, and for the first time looks concerned. “I’ll be right back.”
She goes into the garage and returns with a tow chain. She hooks one end to the plow hookup and the other to the truck hitch.
“I’m gonna pull it off you.”
She gets in the truck, puts it in gear, and drags the plow ten feet down the driveway.
The problem is I’m still under it, just worse for wear for having been dragged 10 feet under a 300 pound plow.
“Are you okay?”
“You’re really stuck. I don’t know what to do.”
At this point, and I swear this is true, my wife comes up with an idea.
“Your heads still sticking out. I could tie your head to a tree or something with a rope so you won’t get dragged, and pull the plow off.”
My teeth are tingling now, and the whole thing seems kind of silly. It’s hard to breathe, and even the rain doesn’t bother me.
A short time later, probably no more than a few minutes, suddenly I can breathe. Then there’s pain as the full weight of the plow settles back on me. It wakes me up to full alertness. I realize that there’s an excellent chance I’m about to die.
“I can’t go any higher. It slides.”
My wife has placed the truck jack by my shoulder and lifted the plow a few inches before it slid again.
“Don’t do that.” I say. “It hurts.”
She leaves, and comes right back. She starts with the jack again.
“Shut the fuck up!” she says. She never curses.
She jacks the plow up a little, and props scrap wood she got from the garage on the edges. She goes to the other end of the plow and jacks it up.
I try to wriggle and push but I can’t get any purchase.
She comes over, sits behind me, puts her feet on the plow and grabs my head. She pulls, I wriggle, and little by little I come free. It took the Fire Department another 10 minutes to get there.
I wanted this to be funny, but I guess it’s not. Anyway, that’s the stupidest thing I ever did. Feel free to share your stupidity as well.