Taking accident prone to the extreme

Cartoon image of two cars in an accident with the word CRASH written above it

“A plane crash, a boat crash, a car crash, and an earthquake – these are just some of the reasons why you shouldn’t travel with my mother.”

That’s the first line from a speech that my son gave at a public speaking competition.

While I’m happy that some of my life experiences provided him with award winning material, I really wouldn’t have minded not experiencing some of them.

I was in a plane that didn’t stay up. I don’t like talking about it because I don’t like remembering that experience. The only thing I’ll say is that going down an emergency evacuation chute isn’t as much fun as it looks. Thankfully, I survived relatively unscathed and none of my fellow passengers were critically injured. (Ever since then I’ve had to fly with the help of prescribed narcotics. I’ve been able to fly all over the world … in a chemically-induced happy place.)

I suffered worse injuries when my body slammed at high speed into some very solid wood. Several decades later, my hip still painfully complains about that experience. I was flung out of a boat when it was driven at full speed into the side of a boathouse. I’ve been told that I did a spectacular gymnastics routine in mid-air before I hit the boathouse wall and then slumped into the lake. (All I remember is seeing the boathouse coming at us fast and screaming “Slow down!”. The next thing I remember is the brothers of the girl who was driving the boat jumping into the lake and lifting me out of the water.) I fared better than our boat – it sank because of the 4x4 piece of wood that broke off of the dock and pierced the hull.

My ribs and neck took the beating when I was in a terrible car crash. My broken ribs healed, but my neck still gets grumpy from time to time. I bet you didn’t know that a big old Chrysler Newport can break in two. I found out the hard way that it can if a speeding driver T-bones it at just the right angle.

My knees were badly scraped when I got knocked down inside a collapsing restaurant during an earthquake in Acapulco, Mexico. They stung for a while after that. It was my nerves that took longer to settle down. I still feel a tremor of fear whenever a heavy truck shakes the ground as it drives by.

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About a month after his award winning speech, I took my son on a trip to Australia. We went camping in the spectacular Kakadu National Park south of Darwin in the Northern Territory. That’s where we learned that saltwater crocodiles can jump really high! (My son likes to loudly reminisce about that portion of the trip whenever there are new people within earshot, saying “Remember that time you almost fed me to a saltwater croc?”)

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After the Kakadu we flew over to Broome on the edge of the Indian Ocean … just in time to experience the worst cyclone to hit Western Australia in almost a century – category 5 Cyclone Rosita. 


There have been trips without any catastrophes. Just last summer we drove the breathtakingly beautiful  North Coast 500 up around the northern tip of Scotland. The road was unbelievably twisty and rarely wide enough for two cars to pass each other – yet nothing bad happened to us. The fact that my son and his best buddy (a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force) wouldn’t let me drive might have had something to do with our accident free drive.

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I guess it’s no big surprise that I made Lee a bit accident prone, huh?