No one ever plans to get into a car accident. You also never know where and when you will need the advice and sage knowledge of an expert.
In almost 40 years of driving, I am fortunate to have been involved in only a few minor bumper taps. None involved an injury more significant than being shaken up a bit. This is a true blessing considering all the miles I’ve driven as a salesperson in the Midwest, covering Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan for many years.
My wife Shelley was not so lucky the other day. She had a front-end collision with a panel van while merging onto the interstate not too far from Prairie’s offices. The cars ahead of her stopped abruptly. She couldn’t stop in time, resulting in a crushed front bumper and engine compartment. The car was inoperable, but she and the other drivers were fine.
Shelley called me, and after the police left, we transferred the contents of her car to my car while we waited for the tow truck. Within a few minutes, a flat bed from Tom’s Towing pulled up. A very large man in a grease-stained yellow safety vest hopped out of the truck, landed with a bit of wobble and introduced himself. His name was Lamar.
“Don’t worry,” he said in a muffled voice, “I know I’m a big guy, but I don’t bite.” We laughed (a little nervously). “Let’s get you off this road.”
Shelley left in my car and within minutes Lamar had the car up on the bed of the truck. I climbed in the passenger side and asked him to drop the car off at the parking lot of my office, while I waited for the insurance company instructions.
“Why you gonna do that?,” he asked. “Who’s your insurance?” I told him. “Naw, naw. You ain’t need to do that.” He shook his head as he used his diesel horn to get into the middle lane. “Lamar’s been towing metal for over 30 years. I know ‘em. You take it where you want. They’ll come there.” He said I would probably be charged for the tow if the car was towed to my office, and then to the body shop.
“Don’t want to pay for that, do you? That’s why you got the insurance.”
I agreed. He seemed to know what he was doing and I didn’t really want to tell him he was wrong. I asked him to take the car to the body shop just a few doors from our warehouse in the business park.
Since I had not been in an accident like this before, I was a bit unsure what to do, but Lamar knew the drill. He also took an exit that I had never considered, made a few unfamiliar turns and beat the early rush hour traffic. Before I knew it, we were at the body shop.
“Go on in and tell them we’re here. I know where to put the car.”
Lamar could not have been more correct. I spoke with the insurance company and they assured me they would take it from there. The rental car was even arranged.
“C’mon,” Lamar waved. “I’ll drop you off. It’s on my way.”
Lamar - big, greasy-vested tow truck driver. My new best friend.
During our 10 minute drive, he went on to tell me how he knew that stretch of interstate well and towed at least 2-3 cars a week out of the same area. “You know what they need to do?” He proceeded to tell me how the lanes should be reconfigured and 50 feet of ramp added.
“You need to head down to the state capital and tell the Department of Transportation,” I said.
“You think they listen to me?” he laughed as we bumped up and down in the truck. Well, they definitely should I thought. Lawmakers don’t experience what Lamar does.
We reached the rental car company and I thanked Lamar for his help and advice.
“Been doing this too long not to know what to do. Just trying to help out.” Lamar pulled away with a jerk of the gear and a blast of his diesel horn.
As we head into the fall show season, whether you’re a seasoned trade show and event professional, or new to the industry, accidents happen, even on the most familiar of routes. Do you know all the rules, regulations, shortcuts and nuances involved to implement a successful trade show program?
If you need advice, look to the professionals for help navigating through the process. From trade show account managers with years of experience (like Prairie,) to logistics specialists and EACs, they are your true advocates on the show floor.
Just as Lamar was for me on the busy expressway. “Don’t want to pay for that, do you?”