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                                   September 26, 2005

Flatbed Trailer for Sale: Real Cheap (and Getting Cheaper)

by Thomas A. Droleskey

The operative word to describe our experiences of the past few days is this: purgatorial. The hope that I had expressed that the rest of our trip to the northeast would prove less adventurous than what had happened on the night of Tuesday, September 20, 2005, and the early morning hours of Wednesday, September 21, 2005, was not realized. Yes, indeed, although this chapter in our saga of escaping Hurricane Rita will not be as long or as detailed as Better This Than Purgatory (Or Worse), a short postscript is in order, especially in light of what happened yesterday evening, Sunday, September 26, 2005.

Yesterday morning "dawned" with loads and loads of rain. Yes, Tropical Depression Rita found us in West Memphis, Arkansas, pounding our motor home and the campground with heavy rains and high winds for about three or four hours early Sunday morning. The heavy rains exposed a major problem in the motor home: leaks above the driver's seat. Let's put it to you this way: Flipper could have gone for a swim where the brake pedal and accelerator pedal are located. All to you Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.

Our dear Lucy Mary Norma wanted to look out at the rain, observing a torrent of water from the left cabin window of the motor home. She said, "I'm going to say a Hail Mary to stop the rain." She did. The rain stopped within a minute of her praying a Hail Mary. The water began to recede from the roadways of the campground (see "before" and "after" photographs below). There was a moment or two during the downpour that I thought we might not be able to navigate possibly flooded roadways to get ourselves to Holy Mass at Saint Cecilia's Church in Memphis.

We did get to Mass, offered by Father Gregory Post, and we prepared our motor home for "lift off" after we returned following the lecture I had given at Saint Cecilia's on Restoring Christ as the King of All Nations. Sharon had to drive our rental car to an office near the Memphis Airport. I led the way in the motor home, towing our new acquisition, the flatbed trailer.

All was going well on the sixteen mile journey got off at exit 23-A rather than exit 23-B on Interstate 240 near the Memphis Airport. I just assumed that "B" would come after "A" as we headed east on I-240. Thus, I had to find some way to turn our cumbersome motor home-flatbed trailer combination around to go to the Enterprise car rental office on Airways Boulevard. I spied a Church's Fried Chicken store that had a parking lot large enough to make a complete turn and wind up going south on Airways Boulevard. All well and good.

I turned into the parking lot, made my way around the store and then turned onto Airways Boulevard, curbing a bit as I did so. Content that we had gotten back on Airways Boulevard to drop off the rental car and could soon be on our way to get to Holy Mass at Saint Mary's Assumption Church in Saint Louis, Missouri, this morning, the Feast of the North American Martyrs, I was surprised when Sharon called me on her cellular phone.

"Pull over," she said." "The left front tire of the Trail Blazer just went through the wood of the flatbed trailer."

Sharon told me that wood flew everywhere. People were honking their automobile horns very loudly as the wood flew up into the air and landed everywhere on Airways Boulevard. The Trail Blazer was listing heavily to the left, its left front tire perched just above the roadway, a wooden plank wedged between the tire and a part of the flatbed trailer that had not come apart. I stopped on a overpass to assess the situation, having to steady myself as I exited our main cabin door. One false move and I could have toppled over the overpass as I exited the motor home.

The scene was comical. Sharon and Lucy were in our rented PT Cruiser. Having been informed by the Enterprise office on Airways Boulevard that there was a gasoline station large enough to accommodate the motor home while we dropped off the rental car, I decided to drive to that gasoline station as Sharon returned the car and then walked over with Lucy.

What to do? Get the car fixed in Memphis, where there is no daily offering of the Traditional Latin Mass, and junk the flatbed trailer? Try to drive the contraception as is back to the campground. "Well, it [the Trail Blazer] can't go completely through all of the wood, can it?" I asked out loud, demonstrating an incredible burst of, how you say, stupidity. Ah, yes, that's the word to describe that statement. I'm not losing my memory all at once. Good.

Sharon came up with the idea to use the steel mesh ramp on which vehicles are placed upon and off the surface of the flatbed as a resting place for the Trail Blazer's left front tire. The car would have to be lifted up and then the ramp slid underneath, covering perfectly the whole made by the wood that had flown out onto Airways Boulevard. Unfortunately, the American Automobile Association told me that it would not cover such a service call, recommending me to a tow company that would be able to lift up the Trail Blazer and slide the ramp underneath the tire, putting us back on the road on short order. I was told that we would have to pay eighty-five dollars for this service.

Our Lady had other plans for us. There were still more redemptive offerings to be given to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.

It took about forty-five minutes for the man from the towing company to arrive. We had pulled into the gasoline station around 6:00 p.m. It was around 6:45 p.m. when the fellow with a flatbed [steel, that is] tow truck arrived. I did not see how a flatbed tow truck was going to help us. We needed a wrecker with a wench that could just lift the car up and get the ramp placed under the left front tire. The towing company did not send a wrecker. It sent a flatbed truck. I knew right then and there that we were in for a long few hours and that we were not getting out of the Memphis area anytime that evening.

The driver's first inclination was to take the Trail Blazer off of our flatbed trailer by yanking onto his flatbed tow truck. Neither Sharon nor I believed that that was the best possible idea. We had visions of all of the wooden planks coming apart. Remember, there is a fiberglass plate over a hole in the wooden planks on the left rear of the Trail Blazer. Sharon suggested that he try to jack up the car and then place the ramp under the right front tire. "That might just work," the man said excitedly.

The poor driver, though, who is really a hard worker who tried to figure out every which way to help us, didn't have the right equipment on his truck. The poor man wasn't even given a jack with all of its proper features. He had to switch directions on the jack by using a wrench that he had borrowed for us. He had to do this throughout the nearly three hours that he worked on this dilemma without assistance from anyone else, trying to figure out different angles from which to jack up the Trail Blazer.

An initial attempt to jack up the car (there were about thirty attempts in all over the course of three hours) was a non-starter. The wood in the middle of the flatbed gave way and started to crack. The car, which had been lifted up considerably by that first jacking up, fell through the hole once again, the first of three times that it did so during the the hour offering to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.

The man tried jacking up the car by using one of the planks of wood that had been cracked by the tire as a platform from which to give the jack greater leverage. The car crashed through the hole a second time after having been lifted up.

The man tried jacking the car by going over to its right side. Nothing of substance occurred. Well, the car did not go through the wood again, thankfully.

I kept Sharon and Lucy informed as to what was happening outside as the early evening turned into the darkness of night. Drenched from heavy rains, Sharon suggested that I use my Mets' cap to shield myself from some of the downpour. She also suggested that the driver use one of the steel mesh ramps as a base for the jack. Alas, the driver just did not have the right equipment with him. He tried and tried and tried. He even telephoned for a backup from his company to come out with a stronger jack. "All we need is a wrecker with a wench," I kept saying, "and we can be on our way." It is evidently the case that the tow company in question only has flatbed tow trucks. No wreckers with wenches.

Another hour passed. The backup had not arrived. Apart from the frustration he felt at not being able to help us, the driver discovered that he was in need of the backup flatbed tow: his own truck's battery died while he was assisting us.

Picture this, therefore: a motor home that had taken on a considerable bit of water about twelve hours earlier is stopped at a gasoline station in a questionable part of Memphis as the flatbed trailer it was attempting to pull is sporting a Chevrolet Trail Blazer that has its left tire situated below rotted pieces of wood. That combination of vehicles sits just ahead of a flatbed tow truck that is unable to move and a driver who is trying to figure out how to get lift up the Trail Blazer just enough to slide the ramp underneath the left front tire.

All to you Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love. Save souls.

Sharon asked me at around the two hour mark what was going on. "You don't want to know," was my response. "You don't want to know. We are awaiting a backup tow truck. The battery on the driver's truck has died."

The backup tow truck did not materialize for a long time. "My company is on Memphis time," the driver told me, "not regular time."

Unsure as to month or the year in which the backup tow truck might arrive, I tried using the Onstar feature in the Trail Blazer, climbing up on the fender over the right front tires of the trailer to try to grab the rear view mirror to make the call. The Onstar call mechanism did not work. I had to get their number from "toll-free directory assistance" and place the call on my cellular phone, which was almost out of battery power by this time. It took nearly twenty minutes for an Onstar representative to get back to me as to whether our initial one year road assistance program covered this kind of service call (the man thought at first that we were not covered). However, a representative from Chevrolet roadside assistance said that they would pay for a wrecker with a wench to come out to assist us.

"One way or the other," I told Sharon, "we should get out of here while it is still September of 2005."

The backup flatbed tow truck arrived about twenty minutes after I had gotten off of the phone with Onstar and Chevrolet roadside assistance. A driver had a heavy duty jack. It was placed in the left center of the flatbed trailer. The Trail Blazer was lifted up, successfully this time, and the steel mesh ramp was placed under the left tire. The ramp was placed just above metal beams beneath the wood on the trailer, therefore making it unlikely, we hope and pray, that it will come a tumbling down to the ground as had the tire when I made that turn out of the Church's Fried Chicken parking lot.

I paid the money to the towing company, filled up the flatbed trailer's tires with air (the tires had very low air pressure), and decided to return to the campground in West Memphis for the night. Tropical Depression Rita was still hitting the Nashville area pretty hard when last I had looked at the satellite image on my computer. I had no intention of driving through possibly tornadic cells. The prudent thing was to stay even though this meant that we will most likely not be able to get to Holy Mass on the Feast of the North American Martyrs. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.

There is no way that any of this can be made up. If, however, there is anyone who wants to buy a flatbed trailer real cheap (and getting cheaper all the time), please do let me know.

Seriously, our current plan is to continue north to get the Trail Blazer's damages estimated by an insurance claims adjuster. Our Lady wants us to keep close to her, never taking anything for granted. It is our privilege as her consecrated slaves to give her these offerings. Our dear daughter is learning at an early age that there is nothing we can endure in this life that is the equal of what one of our least venial sins caused Our Lord to suffer in His Sacred Humanity on the wood of the Holy Cross and that the graces won for us on that same Holy Cross are sufficient to handle all of the crosses we encounter in our own lives, bar none.

Keep praying for us! We need your prayers very much right now.

A blessed Feast of the North American Martyrs to you all.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

The North American Martyrs, pray for us.

Saint Jude, pray for us.

Saint Philomena, pray for us.



The torrential rains of Tropical Storm Rita, 8:00 a.m., Sunday, September 25, 2005, West Memphis, Arkansas

This picture was taken just one minute after the first one. Lucy had prayed her Hail Mary in that one minute! The view above is of a "roadway" in the campground in West Memphis, Arkansas.

Another photograph of a campground "roadway" after the storm's heaviest cells had moved through West Memphis, Arkansas.

Flatbed trailer, anyone?


By the way, wood is not included in the deal if you want to buy the flatbed trailer.

This beauty could be yours for the asking.


Giving a progress report to the troops inside of the motor home.



An onlooker stops by to inspect the scene early on during last night's adventure.


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