They say the deadliest phrase in the English language is “Hold my beer.”
While true, a close second has got to be “Could we borrow your bulldozer?”
It was a simple question asked by a gaggle of local youth and normally, I would not hesitate to say yes, since most farm kids learn to operate heavy equipment before their city cousins graduate from training wheels – but the sideways glances and shuffling feet raised my suspicions.
“What do you want it for?” I asked.
“Umm….(insert long pause here)… to push dirt.”
“I’d love to say yes,” I told them, “but it’s not mine.”
This was true. The bulldozer simply appeared in my pasture one day while I was out walking my dog.
Things like this happen to me.
Inexplicably, odd things will appear in my shed or my yard and then just as inexplicably they will disappear.
Usually, these event coincide with the comings and goings of my old buddy Stan, who is either dropping off or retrieving some item of dubious origin.
I will not go as far as to say that Stan is using my property as a haven for stolen goods, but only that he has a unique sense of ownership and I suspect the bulldozer sleeping in my field was a hostage to some business deal gone bad.
Regardless, I had no intention of lending what I did not own to whom I did not know and for a purpose that was highly suspect.
But one does wonder…
The next day while out on my walk, I ran into a Department of Nature Resources (DNR) officer who had quite the story to tell.
Apparently, the boys had gone to an auction where they won the bid on a dilapidated Greyhound bus. Their intent was to strip the diesel engine for parts and scrap the rest, but on the ride home, inspiration struck.
Why not have a little fun first?
They were big fans of Monster Jam, an event best described as a testosterone fueled gear-head circus. It is where they witnessed a motorcycle jumping a bus.
This got them thinking; why not the other way around?
Why not jump a motorcycle with a bus and what the heck, why stop there? Why not get into the Guinness Book of World Records by jumping a bus over a long row of cars?
Thus decided, the boys scrambled to gather up every yard car in the neighborhood and soon lined up over twenty.
Eventually, a D9 Caterpiller was willingly or unwillingly volunteered to build a takeoff and landing ramp out in the nether regions of the Minnesota Mosquito Refuge.
Here it must be noted that not one of the boys had excelled at either math or physics, nor had they mastered the discipline of engineering, so the angle of the ramps was not dictated by science, rather by a familiarity with the monster truck events that were their inspiration.
In other words, they had sort of a feel for what looked right.
Soon after completing the ramps and after much hemming, hawing and beer, they scrambled aboard the old Greyhound, backed up a quarter mile and in a cloud of dust and smoke, let her rip.
Flight requires speed, so they coaxed everything out of the old bus that it had to give and the aging beast was more than willing. It shook, swayed, rocked and bucked down the makeshift runway, windows cracking, rivets popping and sheet metal flapping wildly in the wind.
They hit the top of the ramp doing a bone-rattling 85 mph and soared magnificently skyward.
As I have written elsewhere in this blog, most grand new ideas are in reality horrible ideas because they have not been tempered by the hard facts of life.
There is an arc to this realization that coincidentally follows the parabolic path of gravity’s rainbow.
It is only as the bus approached the second ramp that the boys discovered a regret for their inattention to the physics of ballistics.
They cleared the landing ramp by a generous margin and landed quite abruptly at an acute angle in the soft peat of The Minnesota Mosquito Refuge.
For much of the afternoon, helicopters from the Mayo Clinic medivacked the boys to Rochester and the next day, the DNR officer caught up with me on my daily walk.
“That’s quite the tale,” I told him.
“It is,” he said, “but that is not what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“We have to get the bus out of there before it sinks but the wrecker we hired isn’t big enough. Could we borrow yours?”
I didn’t know I had one, but I knew better than to admit that.
“It’s not mine,” I told him.