Found in the files of Acme Insurance Company:
Re: Insurance Claim # AGL1947293a
In response to your request for greater detail related to the above claim, I fully sympathize with the incredulity of your associates, so I will provide you with the full sequence of events that should clarify how two incidents, separated by almost 200 miles and several hours involving substantial damage to my pickup/camper and my home are parts of a single event.
On July fifteenth of this year, my wife and I were returning from a camping trip in the mountains near Lassen, California. On our return we departed early expecting to make the 450 mile drive to our new home in McMinnville, Oregon in a single day. By early afternoon we were over half-way home and felt we could take a break. My wife Anna suggested that we do so by visiting the Wildlife Park in Winston, Oregon.
It was a beautiful, warm summer day and as we slowly drove through the park a rhinoceros wandered onto the road, stopped and swung around facing us. He lowered his head and did not appear to be hostile, not that I had any idea what a hostile rhino would look like. I stepped out of the car to take his picture (photo exhibit “A&rdquo. That’s what a hostile rhinoceros looks like! Somehow my action must have provoked the beast, because as I stepped back to the pickup, he (I assume it was a “he&rdquo moved forward and nudged the front of the vehicle with his horn.
Startled I grunted, leapt into the pickup and honked the horn. The rhino grunted and hooked his horn into the front of the pickup. I honked again, hoping to drive him away, but the rhino had other ideas; shaking his head and shoulders he rammed the grill of my vehicle again, more violently, I backed up but he followed and rammed us again. Then, as if nothing of consequence had occurred, he dropped a big load of manure on the road in front of us and trotted away.
Fearful that he might return, I did not dismount to check the front end until we had returned to the entrance of the park, where I was able to assess the damage. The grill was stove in and broken in several places. The hood had been jammed back, bent in the middle, and impossible to open (photo exhibit “B&rdquo. With the engine running I could hear no sounds that indicated that the radiator or fan had been significantly damaged. The engine did not overheat so I determined to attempt to return home despite the damage. My wife was beside herself with anxiety and after making a report to the administration of the park, (a teen-age ticket seller), I continued on my way home to report the incident to my insurance agent the next morning.
Passing Roseburg a few miles south of the Winston turn-off, a sheriff’s car approached us from the rear sounding its siren. I pulled off the road to allow it to pass, but it pulled off in front of me and a sheriff’s deputy emerged from his vehicle with his hand on the pistol in his holster. He stood facing me until a second deputy arrived and pulled up behind us. When the first deputy approached us, I rolled down my window to ask what the problem was and he ordered me out of the pickup. He spread-eagled me and patted me down.
Then he demanded to know how I had damaged the front of my pickup. I explained that I had been attacked by a rhinoceros. He looked at me as if I was crazy and before I could explain further, he ordered the second deputy to cuff me. Then they made me take a breathalyzer test, which I’m sure I passed, because I don’t drink, (copy of police report exhibit “C&rdquo. Like common criminals, my wife and I were hustled into the screened rear seat of the deputy’s vehicle and carried away to state police headquarters in Roseburg. My wife by this time was too distraught to make a coherent statement. I was terribly upset myself, but I finally was able to convince a state police sergeant to call the wildlife park. The teenager to whom I had reported the rhino attack had gone home and failed to report the incident to his successor. It took an hour to confirm my statement that I had been attacked by the rhino and that I was not the driver of a recent hit-and-run incident in Roseburg, the vehicle description of which approximated my pickup and its obvious damage.
Fortunately, by the time we left the state police office in Roseburg my wife had sufficiently calmed that she insisted that she take her turn behind the wheel, as was our usual practice. Exhausted from the stress of events I decided to stretch out on the bed in the rear cabin where we slept when camping. About twenty miles south of Roseburg I felt the urge to urinate and I knocked on the rear window of the cab. Anna stopped to allow me to step into the brush to relieve myself. I left the rear door on the camper cab open. That was a mistake! As I returned from the brush, a tractor-trailer roared by and the rush of displaced air slammed closed the door to the camper. Anna, thinking I had returned, drove off before I could reach the highway.
I was stranded, but I waited by the roadside hoping she would realize that I had not gotten into the camper and she would return for me. Unfortunately that was not the case, and finally I thumbed a ride. The driver asked me what I was doing standing beside the highway in such a remote place and I began with the story of the rhino and then the incident with the sheriff’s deputies and the state police. The driver looked at me as if I were crazy, pulled over to the side of the road and simply said, “out!”
Determined that I would say nothing about the preceding events if another good Samaritan came along, I began walking down the edge of the highway and surprisingly soon I received another offer of a ride. He asked me where I was headed, and without further embellishment, I explained I had recently moved to McMinnville. He smiled and told me it was my lucky day, because he only lived on a few miles beyond McMinnville in Dundee. He said he could take me directly to my own doorstep. When we passed Salem, he explained that he knew a shortcut that would take us quickly to McMinnville. It was such a good route that I arrived home before my wife in the pickup. She later told me she did not want to make the damage to the front end worse by driving at the maximum speed limit. She didn’t attempt to wake me because the concentration on driving helped to calm her nerves.
My keys were in the pickup, so when I arrived home I couldn’t get into the house without breaking a window, so I sat down to wait for Anna on the front stoop. It was after dark when she arrived. I stood and walked to the edge of the driveway as she entered. When she saw me standing in her headlights and not in the back of the camper, her foot stamped down on the accelerator instead of the brake, and she went through the garage door and out the back of the garage into the master bedroom. (photo exhibit “D&rdquo.
Copyright © 2019 by Robert Bruce Drynan
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