OPINION — People cope with stress in various ways, and the past several months have been pretty stressful, what with all the riots going on, and the presidential campaigning, and Amy Coney Barrett’s SCOTUS confirmation hearings, and my missing sock, and some random guy flying around near the Los Angeles airport in a jetpack. He’s back, by the way. The pilots of a commercial jet saw him last week, about 6,000 feet up. Or maybe now there are two of them, which would be great, especially if they get into a dogfight. Kind of a real-life Iron Man thing. I’d buy a ticket.

This corona mess doesn’t seem to be going away, either, and now there’s talk about a whole nuther virus, which is supposed to be way worse than Covid 19, that might be coming to a town near you. Maybe if we all had jetpacks 2020 wouldn’t seem like such a train wreck.

Speaking of wrecks, a fellow in Detroit recently coped with his particular level of stress by jumping his car over a drawbridge. The Fort Street bascule bridge, spanning the Rogue River, had started to rise as he drove onto the bottom of it, and instead of stopping, as your normal, sane, not-high person would do, this guy punched it. And he made it. In a Dodge Stratus. And he didn’t die. Which, you have to admit, is pretty impressive.

Bridge operator Andre Locke watched the entire event as it unfolded, and later described the incident to police: “I looked, I said, ‘No, he ain’t!’ Over he went, blew out all four of his tires, and then he crashed into the other gate. That’s a first for me.”

The unnamed bridge jumper was arrested and charged with malicious destruction of property, for some reason. Police suggested he might have been under the influence of whippits. Which is apparently another way some cope with stress, inhaling nitrous oxide, usually from a can of whipped cream. Like the way Mark Wahlberg knocked himself out when he was playing the part of Bob Lee Swagger in the movie ‘Shooter.’ But he didn’t jump any bridges. That I know of.

Some, of course, don’t need to engage in recreational Cool Whip to have fun. For example, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana student recently stole a school bus and led police on a 13-mile joyride while laughing and making obscene gestures at the officers as they tried to persuade him to stop. A local woman managed to video part of the chase on her cell phone, which eventually ended when the thief crashed the bus into a tree, and the cops nabbed him. He was eleven. Years old. Really.

11-year-old boy crashes stolen school bus after 13-mile police chase

The kid was so small he had to stand up to reach the gas pedal. In a recent column I wrote that my choice for 2020 couple of the year was Randy Cooper and Kristen Begue, for running into one another while both were driving stolen cars, but I now wish to retract my previous endorsement. I don’t know this kid’s name, but whoever he is, he gets my vote for 2020 poster boy, hands down. A pint-sized, 11-year-old, arrest-resisting school bus thief is worth any two regular carjackers.

But my favorite car story of late is the one about the graffiti artist who painted the wall of a building to look like a tunnel, the way Wile E. Coyote used to do in the Roadrunner cartoons, back when it was OK to let kids watch the really good, fun, violent stuff on TV. The story sent to me by an alert reader said a driver mistook the fake tunnel for a real one, and drove his car into the wall. Unfortunately the story turned out not to be true, which is a real shame, if you ask me. I can’t imagine a better way to relieve stress than sitting in a lawn chair watching cars run into a fake tunnel.

A graffiti artist painted a wall to appear to be a tunnel

A graffiti artist painted a wall to appear to be a tunnel

But then, I have to admit that one hits a little too close to home, since I once tried to drive a 12-foot-tall truck under an 11½-foot tall motel awning. That didn’t work quite as well as I’d hoped, and created some stress for the motel owner.

About forty years ago I was driving a truck out of Brownwood, delivering agricultural products all over the southeastern part of Texas, and I pulled into Gonzalez late one evening looking for a motel for the night. In my defense the awning looked tall enough, and I was only going about five miles an hour, but the crash was fairly impressive, all the same. I said, ‘Ruh-roh.’

A small, dried-up old guy came running out of the motel office, shouting at me in some foreign language, and if I could’ve driven away I probably would have, but the truck was kind of stuck. The only thing the man said that I could understand was, ‘THIRD TIME THIS MONTH!’ But it all worked out fine in the end. The guy got a new awning for his motel, and I got to quit driving trucks for a living.

Truck Driver Life

Truck Driver Life

On second thought, maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea for me to have a jetpack . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and minister who once wiped out on a skateboard going thirty miles an hour. Write to him at [email protected]

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