My daily jog through the neighborhood takes me past a deep culvert just off one of the main roads heading into town. It’s not a drainage ditch or a creek bed; it’s more like a steep embankment probably built as part of the road construction. At this time of year, the thick grass lining the sides is dry and slick and matted and brown. It looks like a very slippery 30 feet from the sidewalk down to the deepest point.
It would be so cool if I fell in and couldn’t get out.
Maybe “cool” isn’t the right word, but it would be an interesting experience. You read occasionally about well-respected citizens who go out for a drive and are never heard from again, except perhaps 20 years later when their desiccated corpse is found by a utility crew. They veered off the road to avoid a deer and seemingly vanished from the planet. Every now and then they’ll survive on rainwater and gum for several days before gaining enough strength to haul their injured bodies up to the roadside. Then after all that, they get run over. Too bad, but it does make a great story. And the family is usually relieved to have some respectable resolution.
I’ve often wondered what it would be like down there in the ditch, pondering whether you’ll live or die, close enough to civilization to hear it passing by, and yet stuck in a world that is wild and primitive. If this ever happens to me and I happen to have my laptop along (and there’s a decent wi-fi hotspot within range), I’d love to live-blog about the experience.
It might go like this:
4:07 p.m. — Oops … oh no … sheesh … owww! … oof …
4:08 p.m. — Wha’ happened? What … ? Oh, shoot, my leg really hurts. Yow! Oh, hell, I don’t think I can get back up there. Oh, jeez …
4:13 p.m. — Well, that’s just great. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. I’m like an old LifeAlert commercial. Great. How am I going to get back up to the sidewalk? Ow, my leg really hurts … I think it might be broken. What am I going to do?
4:15 p.m. — OK, try not to panic. I can still hear cars going by so I can’t be stuck here long. If I can just pull myself up this bank, I can signal for help. Guess I’ll have to crawl … ouch! Wow, I’m really up the creek. Heh, heh, that’s funny. Maybe I could blog about this!
4:47 p.m. — I’ve tried just about every way I can think to get myself out of here, but I’m not having any luck. Surely another jogger or walker will be by soon — I’ll yell out to them and maybe they can call for help. If I can find one not wearing headphones, like that’ll happen.
5:13 p.m. — This is definitely becoming a cause for concern. It’s starting to get dark. I know my wife and son are starting to wonder about me by now, but I don’t think I told them which way I was running. I need to focus, I need to think clearly, I need to concentrate on my … hey look — a squirrel with one leg missing!
5:58 p.m. — Wow, this sure does put any other problems I might have in perspective. Worrying about that dental hygienist appointment next week isn’t such a priority any more, is it? I’m going to start throwing rocks at the cars.
6:04 p.m. — Somebody stopped! Hey … help! Help!
6:05 p.m. — No, no, I didn’t mean to hit your 350Z. I was just … Yes, sir, I know I’m too old to be throwing rocks, but if you could just … Mister! Don’t leave, please!
7:50 p.m. — What are people going to think about this? They’ll probably think I’ve left the country, that I’ve got a secret second family somewhere. Jeez, I’m lucky to have one that will put up with me.
8:46 p.m. — Man, I’m really starting to get cold. I remember seeing a glove lying over there. At least I can keep my left hand warm. And … a sock!
11:31 p.m. — Getting so sleepy … What am I going to do without my Ambien tonight?
6:14 a.m. — Wow, I can’t believe I’ve been here all night. Unbelievable.
6:58 a.m. — It sure is beautiful out here early in the morning. The air smells so clean. Really makes you appreciate how nature can be close to home, and yet still exotic and wild. I think it was Henry David Thoreau who said it best, while he spent two years living in the wilderness on Walden Pond. He was fond of saying … Hey — jogger! Down here! Down here! Help!
7:26 a.m. — At least it’s getting light enough to see. Maybe I can look around and find something to eat. Is that a can of potted meat product? Maybe there’s a little left inside … nope, just ants. How can they eat that stuff? Hey, there’s a mayonnaise packet and I think I saw — yes, a grape jam packet from Bojangles. I can make dip!
7:44 a.m. — I think I smell pineapple or coconut. Oh, shoot, it’s just a discarded air freshener. I’ll hang it from this tree branch. Might as well make it things home-y if I’m going to be here a while.
8:22 a.m. — So thirsty… If I take this old sippy cup lid, and stuff a bunch of cigarette filters in it, maybe I can strain some water from that puddle over there and get a drink.
11:14 a.m. — Starting to get dizzy. Sure wish I could find something real to eat. You know, this would make a really great weight-loss plan. I’m going to try to sell something like it on the Internet when I get out of here. Wonder if ditchdiet.com is taken?
3:44 p.m. — Must keep my mind alert. Maybe if I found something to read. Here’s a cash register receipt from the grocery store. Wonder what is “FL BKD BEAN HMSTYL”? Sounds good.
4:33 p.m. — Not sure I can last another night. Thoughts turning weird … wonder if that raccoon over there would be interested in joining me in a provisional government. Man and beast, together at last, creating a just and peaceful society. Or I could club him with this stick and eat him.
4:53 p.m. — Hey, doggie! Here, boy. Come here, boy. Yeah, you’re a good boy. Here, let me attach this grocery receipt to your collar and you go tell your owner that there’s an MVP customer stuck in a gully. There’s some rewards points in it for you if you’re a good boy. Maybe even a free half-gallon of milk.
5:06 p.m. — Officer, officer! Thank you so much for finding me. I’m rescued at last! Thank God! Please, call my wife immediately and tell her I’m okay. And if you get the chance later, please check out my blog — davisw.wordpress.com.
- THAT’S ME, OVER ON THE RIGHT