Dangerous Assumptions


Back in the 80s as a teenager I worked summers driving a delivery truck for Tarheel Lumber company here in western central NC. It was a great job for burley teenager, carrying hundreds of pieces of Sheetrock, plywood and every other building product known to man. My family was steeped in the building business, both my dad and grandfather were general contractors. Taking raw materials and producing a home for someone to live in still intrigues me. It's very american!

My delivery job took me all over our county and to numerous job sites. The most coveted delivery were the simple ones. A bundle of OSB sheathing was my favorite. 60 pieces of 4x8 plywood all wrapped in a bundle. Easy delivery for the driver. Wrap a chain around the bundle, secure with a "dog" come-along, raise the bed and watch drop off the back of the truck....then pull away and head back to the shop, too easy.

However, sometimes things go awry. One day I delivered a bundle of this stuff to a contractor down on Lake Norman doing a remodel on an older home.The house set up on a hill with a long driveway and a sweeping yard that led down to the lake. It's a beautiful spot.

That day was normal, a hot summer day. The job-site was busy with workers and the homeowner was there watching his dream come to life. The contractor as well was there, an old friend of the family.

I backed up the long drive way in my 1972' Chevy 600 flatbed dump truck ready to re supply the engine of America. Everything was normal, I dumped the load, it all looked good. I undid the come along that held the chain tight around the bundle of plywood. We did this to keep the material from flying around like a deck of cards. Normally you could simply pull the chain out from under the bundle due to some strategically placed 2x4s underneath, but sometimes the chain would get pressed by the weight of the plywood. This was the case that day.

Simple problem to solve, just take the hook on the end of the chain and fasten it to the bed of the truck and drive away, no problem. I followed the SOP, but this day I noticed in my rear view mirror the bundle moving with the truck. I deduced that the hook on the other end of the chain had just gotten lodged on the bottom edge of the plywood, much like catching a large rectangular fish.

Then some events were set in motion that bring us to the climax of this story. I pulled up the parking break with the motor still running and the truck out of gear. We were on the slight hill of the driveway. I eased my foot off the brake, but the truck did not move. My assumption....the brake is holding.

I exited the truck and walked to the rear and noticed the chain was quite taught. Upon further examination my initial conclusion was confirmed, I had indeed hooked the plywood. So with my big steel bar, used for tightening the strap ratchets, in hand I simply tapped the hook at the end of the chai. And it disappeared under the plywood!

My mind shifted in to "oh no!" mode! I looked up and saw my driverless truck rolling down the driveway ever gaining speed. You see, the only thing holding that truck in place was the chain, precariously hooked to the corner of the plywood. One of the carpenters leapt into action trying to board the vehicle like cowboy trying to slow an out of control buckboard. I have a distinct memory of his cowboy boots dragging thought the gravel driveway kicking up dust as he tried desperately to rescue the truck.He failed miserably having to combat roll into the grass. I could only watch in horror.

The truck now gaining great speed aided by gravity was heading towards a 150 year old white oak tree. I prayed to a God I didn't know....Please don't' let it hit that tree,

Prayer answered! Due to the motor running and the power steering still active the right front tire eased off the driveway and the slope of the yard caused the wheel to turn ever so slightly as to avoid the impending collision with the tree.

For a brief moment my spirits raised but reality dashed my hopes on the rocks of despair as the truck now traveling about 30 mph was suddenly headed toward the cool waters of Lake Norman!

But that would not be the fate of the big white Chevy, instead in its way was a brand new 1986 F150 pickup truck, which my truck hit head on with a thunderous, sickening crash. After dispatching the ford, the behemoth lumber hauler then, as if it were driven by the devil himself, then hit my customer's jeep wagoneer that had his bass boat on a trailer fixed to the back.

Finally after the smoke cleared, there were 4 wrecked vehicles all within about 15 seconds. I found myself standing next to the homeowner, who called me names and decorum prevents me from quotation. The contractor who was the family friend also reminded me of how brilliant that move was. I then got to call my boss and hear another litany of profanity laced insults. Not my best day.

Looking back now, it's quite hilarious.

So, is there a moral...you know there is, probably a bunch of morals. But what has struck me the most over the years is how this story illustrates the danger of assumption.

I made a lot of assumptions that day. I assumed the parking break was working. I assumed the truck was secure. I assumed that tapping that hook would do nothing.

Assumptions can be destructive.

I've heard it said that assumptions are the termites of relationships. I agree

Be wary of making assumptions in your marriage, on your job, or in your friendships about people. In many ways, you'll think the parking brake might be on or that the hook means nothing.

And sheer destruction can follow with a simple tap....if our assumptions are not based in fact.

I'm assuming you'll think about this as you go about your life today!

All for now, more to follow!

AYE

Comments

Jim Pemberton said…
I was taught early on by a wise, retired substitute teacher not to assume. It wasn't a big life lesson. She simply wrote it on the chalkboard and it made sense. A few years later the family situation changed and I had a new authority figure that always assumed that I had the worst motive for everything. I could ask for something with a good motive and this person would assume that I had a bad motive. I learned quickly that if I wanted something, I was better off inventing a more believable lie than simply telling the truth in order to get it. In this way children can be exasperated into following the temptation to sin.

This holds true for adults as well in various situations. The key is whether the one in authority can foster an environment of trust. The problem with sin is that it destroys trust. Develop trust and you can combat sin in community. So with my own kids I assume that they are sinners in every way in general, but in particular I give them the benefit of the doubt. When they sin, while it threatens our relationship, it will not break it. They know that they can trust their mom and I to deal with them in a way that they can repent well, because they know that I live in repentance too. We can assume that God is true to his promise of forgiveness and that we are in need of it. Otherwise, I choose to assume that my kids are on the up and up until it is proven otherwise. So they usually come to us with their indiscretions or confess when checked up on. I do the same thing with people at work and church.
Brad Borders said…
Well said Jim
Daniel Roberts said…
An excellent, fun story with a great moral. Thanks!
Brad Borders said…
Thanks Dan!

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