Subject: Road Warriors' Guardian
Angel Busy Again
Date: Wed, 22 Sept 1999
At about four thirty yesterday afternoon, just off to the side of
I-70 about three miles west of the Eisenhower Tunnel right on the
roof of the Rocky Mountains, and aboard a very seriously broken down
bus (whose brakes had failed, and with a six-mile downhill gradient
facing us) and with the first snow of a coming winter starting to
swirl about, things did not look at all good for us, starting out
for San Diego on a run that would take us all the way through the
Rockies, and then the canyons of the Colorado River, and finally all
the way across the Mojave Desert. We had only done sixty-odd miles
of a one thousand, one hundred - mile total, and here we were with
all our cellphones getting no signal, and awfully, awfully stranded
and vulnerable, as huge semi - articulated trucks thundered past us
on their downhill runs, each one swaying our parked home - on - wheels
sickeningly as they went, and nothing but two bits of 'fallen rock'
under our wheels to keep us from hurtling on downwards into eternity.
Thank the Big Yin for falling rocks, I say, for without them we were
surely doomed to suffer a very scary ride before careening off the
highway into the void below. However, just as we were starting to
recall bits of Piers Paul Read's book, "Alive", and tales
of the Donner Party were filtering into everyone's psyche, a freak
cloud clearance gave me a weak radio signal that allowed us to call
an emergency dispatch centre, who in turn sent a Highway Patrol car
to our rescue. Never have so many hooligans been so happy to see a
policeman in their lives, as by now it was growing dark, and the snow
was becoming a soon-to-be serious issue as well.
A good natured and thoroughly helpful chap he turned out to be, too,
and in what seemed comparatively no time, he had a giant tow truck
summoned from Denver to take our ailing vehicle off the mountain,
and a warm passenger van en route to similarly rescue its weary, wary
occupants. Meanwhile he had lent Matt, our fearless tour manager his
own warm car to dial up all the hotels he could, in that city (all
sold out due to a massive convention - except one - the most convenient
and comfortable one for us, that miraculously had just five rooms
suddenly open up due to late cancellations). I think Matt enjoyed
his little power play from the cop car, for when I went up and lent
in the window, pushing a pen towards him and intoning, "would
you mind blowing into this, sir.." he immediately adopted a very
stern and believable manner, and replied, "step away from the
vehicle, sir" and followed it up with the classic TV drama words,
"and kindly remove your hands, slowly, from your pockets!"
Of course, by now the cop was pissing himself, and I think was totally
pleased to be able to take part in our rescue.......we were his first
band, I think, although he says they have several of these rescues
every week up there.
As if all these 'lucky' coincidences weren't enough, we then heard
from the driver who took us the sixty miles back to the hotel, that
had we been five minutes later in getting through to his dispatcher,
there would have been no more drivers on duty, and heaven knows what
then could have happened to the chilled bodies of the average white
(now a bit blue) men. Hence my 'guardian angel' headline to this piece
- that's twice now in three months, if you recall the Memphis rescue
on the fourth of July.
I think we have to review certain procedures thoroughly, as we're
pushing our luck with that overworked heavenly intervenor, and I wouldn't
want to test our fortunes a third time, any time soon. We shall set
off in a few hours, in a brand new vehicle, currently speeding toward
us across the plains from Kansas City, and we will surely achieve
the fastest load-up known to man, as we have a scant eighteen hours
to make the journey to the coast, so will take turns to sit up through
the night, and day with our driver, chatting away about anything and
nothing in particular, as that is the best way to keep someone from
the eventual fatigue and loss of focus that inevitably sets in after
about six or seven hundred miles of constant forward motion. So, you
see, truth is...
How to be a successful musician........1) learn damage control 2)
never 'diss' your band members or crew - your life may depend on them
3) know how to ingratiate yourself with fire, police and ambulance
people, not to mention hotel managers and breakdown mechanics 4) NEVER
leave the whisky on the bus if you are forced to abandon ship 5) NEVER
start a journey without said refreshment in the first place - there
are no St. Bernard dogs in the Rockies,
6) be at all times totally, totally positive that you're going to
surmount ANY situation, and you surely will, and 7).....oh, yes -
it might be an idea to learn an instrument, too.
Have fun, but, you know what.........don't try this at home. For a
quiet life, see my forthcoming book about the Music business, tentatively
entitled, "1001 Much Easier Ways To Earn a Living" - Part
one: rocket science and brain surgery.
See you all on the other side of The Great Divide.