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Friday, April 2, 2010

THE FLYING STIFF

A good friend of mine passed away last year, I'll just call him "Warren" for the purpose of this essay. He was a good friend and had a great sense of humor. He also had an interesting career which, among other things, he served a stint as a New York State trooper several years ago. One day we took a road trip heading north on I-75, I was driving. We talked about a lot of things, as is common on such trips, but he began to describe some of his escapades as a trooper, such as some of the whacko speeders he had ticketed or arrested over the years. It was all interesting, but he had one story which really caught me off guard...

Wintertime in upstate New York can be frigid as anyone can tell you from that area (why they call it "upstate" as opposed to "northern" New York is beyond me). It was on a bright Sunday afternoon when Warren and his partner were called to investigate a homeless person frozen on the side of a road up in the woods. They drove their squad car up into the hills where lo-and-behold there was indeed a gentleman who had frozen to death next to the road. As the passenger in the vehicle, Warren radioed back to his headquarters to report they had found the deceased and requested the Coroner's Office to send up an ambulance to take it away. They were told that due to the frigid conditions, the ambulance wasn't working and they would have to bring the body back down the hill themselves.

Their first inclination was to put the body into the trunk of the squad car, but because it was frozen solid, they couldn't bend it to fit in the trunk. They next tried putting it in the back seat, but again, because of its frigidity, it would have required them to drive with both car doors open. It was now starting to get late in the day and they realized they didn't have much sunlight left. Becoming a bit desperate, they noticed a nearby toboggan run where they commandeered a toboggan and strapped the stiff to it. Their idea was to tie it to the back of the patrol car and slowly pull it down the hill. They then proceeded cautiously down the hill which was still rather icy. So far, so good.

About halfway down the hill, Warren happened to look out his side window and saw the toboggan with its passenger running alongside of their vehicle. Evidently, the rope they used to tie it to the car had snapped due to the temperature. All Warren could say was, "Oh, oh, that's not good."

Without any brakes, the toboggan began to pick up speed and was quickly in front of the troopers before they could stop it. They then began to give chase down the hill, complete with their lights flashing.

At the bottom of the hill was a beautiful little home where the family was just sitting down for their Sunday dinner. Looking out of their picturesque dining room window, the family began to observe the commotion of the troopers coming down the hill towards them.

By this time, the toboggan had picked up considerable speed and was now racing down the hill at full tilt. As it approached the house, it happened to hit a snow bank thereby causing the toboggan to become airborne much to the horror of the family in the house who watched helplessly as it crashed through their window and into their dining room. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

When the troopers finally arrived outside the broken window, they found the flying stiff had safely landed on what was left of the dining room table (and dinner). Embarrassed by the incident, they apologized profusely to the family and assured them they would make retribution (which they did).

Somehow they managed to remove the toboggan and were finally able to transport it to the Coroner's office without any further incident. Although the snafu was embarrassing, Warren told me it took them five hours to complete the paperwork as they were howling over the incident.

As for me, I had trouble driving the car as the imagery of Warren's story had me in hysterics. I have since told this anecdote on more than one occasion to some police friends I know and they assure me such stories are common but are only known by law enforcement personnel as the public probably wouldn't understand such dark humor.

Now some people might be offended by this story but I can assure you the troopers meant no disrespect. I guess the moral of the story is simply not to visit upstate New York in the dead of winter.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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