Workin’ for the FBI

Did the song pop into your mind?  The Hollies had that great ballad decades ago, “Long Cool Woman.” I looked up the lyrics when the song played in my head thinking about this post and realized I didn’t know half of them.  Did I ever know it was about bootleggers?  Sorry, this story is not about a black dress, or a gray musical memory in my mind, but a white “Trooper Truck” and a rather memorable run-in with the FBI.

One of the strangest, most embarrassing days of my life was not as bad as it could have been.  I hit a pedestrian with an SUV.  Well, I hit his arm with my right outside mirror.  He walked away…but the story gets a little stranger.

This vehicle was an ’87 Isuzu Trooper, and yes, it was a stick shift. We affectionately called it the “Trooper Truck” The two child car seats and a child in-between them fit comfortably in the back seat.  I was driving to church across town with my daughter on a Sunday morning.  My wife was staying home with the other children; the boys had pink eye.  Snaking through town to avoid the tolls on the highway, I was cruising at the speed limit on a tight curved uphill road that I had been on hundreds of times before, and maybe thousands of times since.

Not mine, but pretty close. Ours was white, too. I seem to remember that we had taller side mirrors that could be used for towing, but it’s hard to recall. You had to stop to change into 4WD, and stop and reverse out of 4WD. Fun vehicle!

Smack!  I saw the reflection of a man in a t-shirt and shorts tumbling into the ditch.  My right-hand side mirror had struck something and when I saw the person who had been struck in that same mirror, it took my breath away.

I hadn’t fallen completely asleep, but I was a little groggy.  Was this my fault?  I barely remembered having seen him, and it was a very tight space on this two-lane winding road in one of the wealthiest parts of town.  I have struggled at various points in my life with how to stay awake while driving.  I knew I had to stop, help, and deal with whatever consequences would result.

There was no room to pull over, so I turned into a driveway on the same side of the road about 30 feet ahead of the incident.  My daughter was worried but respectfully quiet.  I told her I had to help this man and make sure he was okay, and that we would be fine.  And that she could pray. 

I stepped out to see what I had done. He had already righted himself and was shaking himself off.  Thanks, Lord, I still had a perfect streak of not killing anyone!  I walked with him back to the Trooper.  He was visiting from out of town and had been jogging.  There were no sidewalks and lots of cars on this artery of the city; yeah, he was from out of town.

(I have not seen joggers or cyclists on this stretch of road since.  On that same road, near that spot, one bicycle rests against a tree with flowers on it, memorializing a situation that must have turned out worse.  I remember being on that road one day years earlier with my bicycle, pedaling into town with a couple of high school buddies.  It would be hard to walk along this route now, much less jog or bike.  Or maybe that’s only my perspective after this harrowing episode.)

I offered to take him to the emergency room, but he declined, only asking that I take him to where he was staying.  I was also thankful for the man whose driveway I had pulled into, because he had a unique driveway that went through to the road behind his house. I guess if you’re going to do something like this, do it where folks are wealthy enough to have great solutions!

We chatted as we tried to get him back to the home he was visiting.  I think very few had cell phones at this time, so we were hunting for his friends’ house.  As he began to share his background, I wondered if I had fallen into a ditch myself.  This visitor, this stranger, this jogger who I had just run off the road, was an FBI agent from the DC area!  Real, or surreal, this turn of events had my mind spinning, not knowing how this would end.

He explained that he worked on white collar crimes, mostly bank fraud.  His spirit was surprisingly upbeat.  We found his friends’ home, and I made sure we exchanged names and phone numbers.

I can’t remember if we made it to church; I think not. I called my insurance company that afternoon and explained the situation.  No harm, no foul, no police record.  The agent I spoke with seemed to think that all would be fine, especially since no one needed repair.  We did hear from his insurance company a few weeks later, but I don’t know how he fared.  My daughter was a little shaken; I think she was six or seven at the time.  I don’t think she was scarred for life; she’s now the happy, healthy mother of three.

It’s a great conversation piece, isn’t it?  “I hit an FBI agent!”  Very few have that on their resume. Did it have anything to do with my ASD?  Decision making, sleep disorders, response time could all have been factors.  At least I didn’t “run.” Not only is “hit and run” highly illegal, but I think facing mistakes and mishaps as they occur is a policy that works best for me.

The Mini helps me stay out of trouble. The clutch, the AC, the radio, the size, and the fun driving experience all factor into why this car works for me.  I will eat or drink something on trips over 20 minutes.  Getting off caffeine about a year ago, I have eliminated this typical pick-me-up that most drivers rely on.  It’s a little tenuous on occasion, but I simply pull in somewhere and walk around, or keep changing stations if I get sleepy.  This part of my life seems under control, but I need to stay vigilant. 

I may not be able to easily shift out of every situation.  Actions, even mistaken actions, have consequences.  I’ve had worse situations than hitting a federal agent with my car.  Sometimes, shifting isn’t available; I have to stop the car and get out.  Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People said, “Admit your mistakes quickly, so that they have less influence over your future.”  That, and grace, are keeping residual trouble at bay, even with those who are workin’ for the FBI.  Sing it, c’mon, it’s a great song…

#ASD #Autism #WorkinfortheFBI

Published by Bart Shoaf

Blogging about victories and challenges as a middle-aged man with a late diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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