"There's a rock!" I saw it a split second before my friend, Naomi, hollered those words. In that instant I had to decide whether to smack into the rock or swerve, try to avoid it and chance slamming into oncoming traffic.
My fender and left front tire bear the marks of my decision. But at least our heads and bodies don't.
The "rock" came flying off a dump truck full of "baby surge," construction-speak for football size chunks of granite used for fill and other construction jobs.
We pulled over, inspected the damage, uttered the obligatory "I'm glad it didn't hit the windshield" and stood there for a moment. Then Naomi uttered words that were music to my ears.
"You wanna go see if we can chase him down?"
Ah, vengeance, the perfect poultice for my battered car and quaking guts. But alas, dirt road after dirt road along Ga. Highway 16 East revealed nothing. Finally, after deciding to find a safe road to pull into and turn around, there it was, a dump truck full of evidence, heaped over with baby surge, roaring down a dirt road.
By that time I had worked myself into a frenzy of revenge.
"I'm going to pull over here and block this road, when he comes out he'll have to stop," I bellowed.
It just happened to be quite close to where a skunk had recently tangled with Mr. Goodyear. The smell, the dust from the dirt road and my adrenaline-hyped state made for a quite a combination. I was determined to stand in the middle of a rural dirt road, in front of a moving dump truck and exact justice.
Yea, right. This wasn't Tianamen Square, I wasn't a protester and the truck looked larger than some tanks I've seen.
I got back on the grass. But he stopped. He was nice and directed me to an area where other trucks were dumping the vicious "baby surge."
"Wait a minute," he said. "Trucks will be coming back out. You can ask them."
I thanked him and then realized, with Naomi's help, that the "nice" truck driver was probably radioing his buddies and warning them of the two crazy women at the end of Fitzgerald Road.
We decided to take a chance and drive down the dirt road. And here they came, two dump truck drivers more than ready to show me their paperwork indicating that they could not possibly have been the culprits because of their pickup time at the quarry.
Their buddy had radioed them and told them just what to do.
We told our story, the flying rock, the squealing tires, the failure of the truck driver to stop. They showed concern for us and the damage to my car, agreeing that they, too, would want something done about such a problem. And that's when the fun really began. The men, seeing us as fragile, stupid women, offered up the knowledge that that brakes on dump trucks don't squeal, that they hadn't been radioed by the first truck driver, and that "baby surge" wouldn't break if I ran over it so what hit me couldn't possibly be what their company was hauling.
That's when the skunk smell, the dust and the insults got the best of Naomi. Neither she nor I are fragile, stupid women and she explained that to the truck drivers in no uncertain terms. And just about the time she finished setting them straight, here comes the other truck around the bend. I could tell by the expression on his face when he got out and the way he walked toward us so quickly offering his paperwork that he was the one.
He denied guilt but was much quieter than his buddies. Knowing there would never be a confession, we got in my car and drove off.
But the saga continues. Next week I'll explain what to do if something like this happens to you and it, unfortunately, happens with deadly frequency. And when you're driving around this week look to see how many trucks have rear license plates on them. You'll be surprised. I'll tell you about that next week, too.
I'm on a mission.
Tamara Boatwright is managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (770) 478-5753 ext. 272.