I don’t remember the impact when my motorcycle collided with the deer at 70 mph but assume the deer must have hit the bike broadside rather than me hitting it, because I wasn’t thrown forward. Instead, the bike was knocked out from under me. My first recall of the accident was sliding, not tumbling, down the highway. I saw the motorcycle scraping along beside me, sparks flying, and I thought, “This isn’t so bad.”
I was wearing leather chaps, leather jacket, and motorcycle boots that chilly morning, having put my dress shoes and suit jacket in the saddlebag. A leather jacket covered my white shirt and tie. I had three different helmets to choose from, and although my least favorite was the full-face helmet protecting my jaw, I had worn it because of the brisk temperatures.
When I stopped sliding, I sat up, shook my arms and legs, and announced to whomever it is guarding hapless souls, “I’m okay.” Then I became aware of cool breezes. I didn’t have any pants on. The 50-yard skid down the highway had stripped off the chaps and tattered my dress slacks underneath. The slide filed off the toe of one boot. The sleeves of the motorcycle jacket were in ribbons, like those of my dress shirt underneath. The jaw portion of the helmet was broken, one side completely separated and the other cracked. Apparently, I smacked my head when going down. My right knee had had a small cut that might require a few stiches but other than that and some road rash, I was in remarkedly good condition.
Call me lucky. I always thought that ought to be the title of my autobiography. I have been one lucky guy throughout my life. Being able to walk around following an accident like that was miraculous.
A car stopped moments after the crash and must have had a cell phone because minutes later the police arrived. The policeman wanted to call an ambulance. “Oh no,” I insisted, “I’m fine.” When I suggested I might even try to ride the damaged motorcycle home, he said, “No way.” You may be in shock and not know it. And as for riding that wreck, I couldn’t allow it. Please let me call an ambulance. If nothing more, just to check you over. If you’re okay, fine, we’ll send it on its way.
“Okay,” I agreed.
Then the officer asked, “Do you want the deer?”
“Yeah, the deer you killed, fifty yards up the road there. I have a long list of people wanting roadkill, but drivers get first priority.”
“Geez, no. I don’t want it.”
When the ambulance arrived the two EMTs wrapped my abrasions and bandaged the cut on my knee, and then checked my heart and blood pressure, 120 over 80. They couldn’t believe a perfectly normal reading after such an accident. However, they like the policeman, wanted to take me to the hospital to be checked over further. “And besides,” they said, “you need to get that knee stitched up.
Standing there wearing virtually no pants, I had an idea. “If you take me to the hospital, do I have to go in?”
“Well, no, but what will you do?”
“I need some clothes. Let me call my office in Columbus and have our delivery driver meet me at the hospital and take me home. Once I get cleaned up and put some pants on, I promise to drive to the hospital for stitches and let them do whatever checking they need to do.”
It was agreed. I bid adieu with thanks to the policeman, who by this time had called a body shop to haul away my bent—and later judged totaled—motorcycle to a garage. After my visit to the hospital, I went to my office. By this time, it seemed the entire company had heard about the accident. “Deer Slayer” became my new handle.
Now here’s the rest of the story.
My primary point of contact as I slid those 50-yards down the highway, was my left butt cheek. That’s where I carry my wallet. The billfold had been given to me by the Harvey Hubbell Company, one of the manufacturers our company represented. Hubbell gave wallets to its distributor managers associated with a promotion being launched.
The billfold was totally destroyed in the slide. Not only was it pulp, but my driver’s license, Social Security card, and other contents had been ground into scrap. I don’t normally carry bills in my wallet but Hubbell, as was the custom, had included a one-dollar bill and I left it in the billfold. That bill became just barely legal tender.
I sent the remains of the wallet along with the story of its destruction to Hubbell’s vice-president of marketing. The final line of my letter said, “Thank you Harvey Hubbell, you saved my ass!”
A few days later, I received a small box containing two billfolds. A note said, “Not only does Harvey Hubbell cover all bases, but in this case, both cheeks.”