August 2015

Typically in this blog, I try to provide readers with something useful, upbeat, or just plain fun. But this time I’m steamed and have to get something off my chest. Thanks to anyone who stays with my personal venting. I do believe, however, the experience I’m about to share is a classic example of the how our society and government agencies are now operating. I sent the following to my local newspaper and the editor immediately contacted me to tell me my letter will be in the next edition. I simply thought I would share my experience. Thanks again for letting me vent.

My letter:

On Sunday, July 26, my wife and I were driving home from lunch with friends. While on the highway we normally drive, I noticed a car driving erratically and tried to avoid it. At one point I decided to pull off the road when I determined the male driver was intentionally trying to cause an accident.

After a while, the other driver then pulled his car off the road until we passed and continued behind us. When we reached our turnoff onto a narrow two-lane road, he once again followed. For our safety, I again pulled off until he passed. As we continued, it became more obvious he was trying to cause an accident so we called the Highway Patrol. While on the phone we made it clear it was an emergency and they needed to respond before he killed someone. Just as we made those comments, the driver veered completely head on into the oncoming lanes. His deliberate action forced at least three cars to leave the highway in order to avoid him. Fortunately, none of the cars flipped over as they went off the road.

While still on the phone, we tried to follow the driver, but he realized what we were doing and began making u-turns to try to lose us. We gave his description, his car make and model, and his license plate number to the Highway Patrol while still on the phone. We never did see anyone respond so we decided to continue on home in the hope they would find and stop him. Almost there, the driver, who must have been following, flew past.

A day later, not hearing anything, I called the Highway Patrol. Despite two phone calls, I was told they could not give me any information. Over the next week, fearing this crazy was out there and was trying to kill people, I called my Board of Supervisor’s office three times to ask if they could find out if anything had been done. No call back each time. I finally went to the office and was told no one could discuss it and because there was no evidence, nothing could be done.

“No evidence?” How about two eye witnesses? How about our phone call and my wife’s recorded screams as we watched him cross the road sending cars flying? If this had been someone walking along the highway with a gun, a SWAT Team would have responded. If someone had pointed a bow and arrow at a lion, the national media would have shown up immediately. This individual was intentionally trying to hurt and/or kill people with his car. We tried our best.

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One of the challenges of aging is to live the best we can looking toward the future and not living in the past. While we are obviously the sum of our experiences, dwelling on our “glory days” is not particularly productive.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treasure our memories and be grateful for the good times and learn from the difficult ones. My wife and I have been very blessed to have lived very active lives, full of great adventures and activities, and also experienced our share of life’s challenges. From time-to-time, we reflect on some of our more special memories.

A couple of days ago, my wife and I were watching a baseball game and a former player by the name of Jimmy Piersall was mentioned. My wife wasn’t familiar with the name so I briefly described Mr. Piersall’s career for her. Baseball fans will recall his struggle with bi-polar disorder and his more than colorful career. His on and off field antics made him a bit of a legend. On one occasion he hit a home run and slid into each base on his way to home plate. When he hit his one-hundredth home run, he ran the bases backwards. There were arguments, well documented fights, firings, and more. He once brought a water gun to bat and sprayed home plate. On another occasion, he climbed to the stadium roof to heckle the umpire. He even donned a “beatle wig” and played “air guitar” in center field during a game. And at one point in his career, he was institutionalized for his emotional problems. The movie Fear Strikes Out was made about his life and he wrote his own story in The Truth Hurts. Despite it all, he was a darned good player, baseball executive, broadcaster, television personality and actor. He was even inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

So, why was I so ready with the story of Jimmy Piersall? Well, he gave me one of my fondest baseball memories. As a young teenager, my friends and I would somehow find our way into Dodger Stadium almost every summer night. Don’t ask how we got in. At that time the Los Angeles Angels played their home games at the stadium and Piersall had joined the team. On one summer night, the game had gone into extra innings and by that time my friends and I had made it into the front row next to the Angel’s dugout. In the 17th inning, Piersall, who had had several hits in the game, was on deck. When he was announced, he began to walk to home plate but his knees began to wobble and the fans laughed. He turned, handed me his bat and motioned for me to take his turn at bat. The crowd loved it. So did I. It was a summer night at the ball field and a memory for life. Some memories are definitely worth reliving.

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