About three weeks ago, I learned a few very important life lessons. Sometimes the Universe or whatever has a way of getting your attention in pretty dramatic ways. For me, that occurred while driving my little truck/camper in the middle of the night through Mendocino County on the extremely winding Highway 253 from Ukiah to Boonville.
Severely startled and filled with adrenaline, I was crashed, with my truck laying on my driver’s side. As soon as I realized what had happened, I rapidly turned off my engine, and my lights, fought my way to climb through the jumbled mess in the truck cab, and climb up and out, pushing the passenger door up, and then walking along the truck’s passenger side to get to safety. Moments before, I had simply been driving around a corner, glanced at my phone to check something, looked up, and realized I was careening off the road.
Life Lesson 1: Screens, whether phones, GPS devices, navigation systems, stereos, etc. are very dangerous, even if they are hands-free.
Life Lesson 2: Campers do not handle like lightweight, half-ton trucks. I truly made the mistake of driving my truck like I used to before I had added significant weight with the camper, and the contents.
Life Lesson 3: Driving in the middle of the night while tired, is just plain stupid.
Life Lesson 4: Cell phone service is far more critical to safety than I ever imagined before. If I had not chosen to drive 253, I would have taken another highway that has no cell phone service for nearly 45 minutes worth of driving.
Life Lesson 5: The road less traveled is probably traveled less for good reason. The shortest route, is not necessarily the best. I have since stopped driving such “severe” roads in the name of shorter distances and/or faster routes. And, I am now sticking mostly to straight, smooth highways whenever possible, even if the mileage and time driving is more extensive.
The corner had rapidly become much sharper than I had thought. My camper was too heavy to stay on the road without flipping. I slammed on my brakes and tried to stay on the road and shoulder. I skidded for about 30 feet, but then hit wet gravel. I slowed to about 5 or 10 miles per hour before hitting the embankment. The point where I hit was a pretty steep slope. So, my vehicle basically was tipped onto its side.
The impact was so minor that no windows were shattered. And, only my driver’s side mirror was crushed. Even the damage to the truck and camper was at first quite minor. And, the damage to me, I didn’t even realize until the next day which was only a little whiplash and muscle strain.
I was fortunate enough to have cell phone service. And, after a couple hours of waiting and reflecting, the police, and AAA had made sure I was okay, and had gotten my truck on its wheels again. However, the damage done in dragging it to get it to a point where it could be raised upright was quite extensive.
As I waited for AAA, I thought carefully about my children who I had just dropped off a few hours before. My little truck was simply too small for my growing children to ride with me comfortably anymore. And, after driving for 5 hours, and both of them trying to sleep in their very cramped seats, I had realized that my “camper” was no longer really viable for us to travel together. And, I was so profoundly thankful that they had not been with me in the crash, in such an older vehicle, with so much less safety equipment.
So, sometimes you really shouldn’t even go back to the drawing board, and instead, take a long break, get a coffee, and think completely out of the box. In business, there is something called the Sunk Cost Fallacy. The basic idea is that individuals will continue a course of action that is almost certain to fail because they can’t let go of how much time, money, effort, and resources have already been “invested.”
Yes, it hurts to know that my camper, which was very much a labor of both desperation and love, and that I had put considerable time, effort, and money into, really just needed to be set aside. In the end, my truck still has thousands of miles left in it. And, that’s okay. That little truck is still awesome, and pretty unbelievably “bulletproof,” even if it does have some severe body damage. In time, I’ll fix it.
So, I decided that it was instead time to use some resources I had very recently acquired, but had intended to leave alone for quite some time, and make a few drastically different investments. And now, I have a pretty beautiful, awesome, fuel-efficient, hybrid, minimalist little crossover SUV, that is probably the smallest “RV” you could imagine. Yes, believe it or not, it’s actually fully self-contained with a toilet, refrigerator, space for sleeping, and more. And most important of all, so much more comfortable and dramatically safer for my children to travel with me.