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Been swamped with work and holiday and illness, too swamped to do a Lounge Episode or anything meaty. So instead, I offer up the best laugh I've had all week: the story of Manager Rob, The Turtle, and The Tree.

There are several things I must say before I get to this story:

  • Manager Rob is not the Boring Manager Rob from Jonathan Coulton's Code Monkey. In fact, he gets quite annoyed when I even call him Manager Rob. He's lead programmer on my current project; but due to organizational definitions, that makes him technically a manager. He's not happy about that.
  • This is absolutely Rob's story, not mine. I'm just retelling it because I got a laugh out of it. All credit for laughs go to Rob. If you have yawns, they're my fault, because this was hilarious when Rob told it.
  • Parts of this story are kind of vague, for reasons that will be revealed. And I can honestly say of Manager Rob that he's feeling much better now...
  • The reasons yet to be revealed have nothing to do with alcohol nor any illegal substances. As will be revealed, Manager Rob has a police report to back him up on this claim.

So one day in their reckless youth, Rob and his friend Dusty were driving home from a morning event. (I know it was morning, because they hadn't eaten their lunches yet, as will be revealed.) While no alcohol was involved, they did have the irresponsibility of youth working against them. Both were in shorts and barefoot as they drove. In Michigan, at least, that's a reckless driving ticket in itself. Neither was wearing a seat belt. That's another ticket in Michigan today, though it wasn't then.

Dusty is apparently kind to small children and woodland creatures. I know this, because I try to be kind to small children and woodland creatures, and Dusty outdid me. If I see a turtle crossing a road, I'll stop and help it across. But Dusty went much farther: when he saw a large snapping turtle crossing a nearby ballfield, he decided that turtle needed help. He determined that she needed to live in the lake near their homes. So Dusty had Rob stop the car, and he ran out to the field, picked up the confused turtle (who promptly withdrew into her shell in fright), and set her down on the bench seat between them. Their good deed for the day done, Rob set off down the road again.

Now some turtles might've continued to cower; but that's not in the nature of snappers! No, once she got over the immediate fear, the first thing she did was to stick out head and legs and scurry off the seat and into the driver's side footwell, along with Rob's bare legs and feet. Rob yelled. The turtle scrambled. Dusty scrambled after the turtle. And none of them noticed the curve in the road ahead, nor the ditch that lay beyond that curve, nor the tree that stood in wait for anyone foolish enough to miss that curve.

What happened next, Rob can't exactly say. The reason why he can't say has much to do with the head-sized dent he left in the roof of the car. Today, he's one of the brightest developers I know, so I can testify that he has fully recovered from his concussion; but as he says, some memories of that day just never got written to permanent storage. (Yes, Rob's a geek.) But as best Rob can reconstruct... When the car dipped into the ditch at 60 MPH, Dusty was leaning across the seat, looking for the turtle. The initial jolt tossed Dusty over the bucket seat and into the back seat. Meanwhile, the same jolt launched Rob into the air hard enough to dent the roof with his skull. And while I hate to discourage seat belt use, on that occasion their recklessness probably saved both their lives. While Dusty was tumbling and Rob was airborne, the car hit the tree at some significant fraction of 60 MPH. The dashboard and firewall were driven all the way up to the seat.

The next thing Rob remembers is laying in the passenger seat and realizing there was an accident. He remembered nothing, but the evidence was incontrovertible. He tried to open the door, but couldn't. He rolled down the window. He knows he intended to climb out.

The next thing Rob remembers is sitting on a picnic table bench while the homeowner asked if there was anyone else in the car. In later conversation, Rob learned the homeowner helped him out the window and to the table, but Rob remembers none of that. Rob couldn't remember who would be in the car, but he was sure someone was. The homeowner checked and said there was a blonde guy in the back seat. Rob remembers being confused why Dusty would be in his back seat. Then he remembers how comfortable the grass looked as he lay down on it.

The next thing Rob remembers is being strapped onto the gurney. The police asked him what happened, and Rob was too confused to answer. That led to an immediate reckless driving ticket. Then they took Rob and Dusty (whose nose was pretty smashed) off to the hospital.

When Rob's mom got to the hospital, she told Rob the accident site had been cordoned off as a crime scene. The police were doing a meticulous search for alcohol or drugs. With Rob's and Dusty's lunches strewn around, there was a lot to investigate. Later, Rob's mom had further news: the police were somewhat annoyed to find nothing more they could charge them with. There was not a sign or alcohol or drugs to be found. The reckless driving charge stuck, but that was it.

And she had one more bit of news. "Oh, they found a turtle under the seat." The turtle escaped unharmed.

No turtles were harmed in the making of this story...


Posted on Friday, December 26, 2008 5:34 PM | Back to top

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