Morality tale (tail?) about ditching

TV Hagenah

The local school district is attempting to cut down on absenteeism by students. They have found school runs better when students are in class.

Conversely, In the seven or eight years I was in high school, as I recall, the administration periodically tried ways of keeping me out of classes. They found that school ran better when I was absent. In fact I had a very good attendance record. I think I believed it was my responsibility to bring as much joy to my teachers and administrators as I could by my presence. I have always found it strange that my teachers did not always see it that way.

I must say that periodically they did show a certain of fondness for me. My teachers would take up collections to send me (and me alone I might add – none of this whole class stuff) on any number of private field trips. One time it was to Rock Springs, Wyo., another time it was to Yuma, Ariz., and yet another was…but now that I think about, they were always on-way tickets.

Honestly, I only ditched school one time. Missing school was a big deal in those days; not only to the school but to parents. They valued education because having gone through two wars and the Depression they knew just how valuable it was. The one time I ditched was to take a ski trip to a relatively nearby ski area, I had the good sense to go with the student body president, the salutatorian of my graduating class and the senior class president (If I was going down, the best of my class was going down with me).
We went in a two-passenger, topless, 1956 M.G. convertible that one of the guys had dug out of a pond on his dad’s farm and restored.

The car held two, but if one was willing to straddle the gear shift and put his feet somewhere near the rear view mirror, three could pull it off. If you carried skis, you needed a fourth; someone dumb enough to sit on the back of the car like some sort of human roll bar (now you know why I was invited) and hold the skis. Returning from the ski area, we had to go through “Dead Man’s Canyon.” On one side was a drop off of about 500 feet and on the other was a sheer rock wall that went straight up. It had ice on the road in July and this was February. It was at this point that we started sliding sideways at 50 miles per hour toward the cliff wall (we were teenagers so of course we were driving on ice at 50 miles per hour).

It was at this point I decided to get out and walk. I simply threw away the skis cradled in my arms and stepped over the side of the car. I immediately fell to my bottom and started sliding along behind the car as it careened toward the cliff (I have often wondered since then if someone had come along just then if they would have thought I was chasing the car in some sort of an invisible go cart).

The car smashed into the cliff face tossing one passenger onto a rock ledge on the cliff, and deposited one in a tree over the edge and the driver was lodged in the car between two trees over the rim of the drop off. I still looking like I was seated in my invisible go cart which had come to a stop in the middle of the road where I was found a few minutes later by a passing motorist.

The other students had concussions, broken arms, broken legs, broken ribs and one even had a punctured lung (every girl in high school was immediately in love with the three wounded heroes). They missed a couple weeks of school or more. I, however, had merely sanded an eighth of an inch off the nether region of my body. So for the next three weeks, I was standing in in-school suspension and every time someone walked by the ISS room and saw me standing there, I could hear their giggles.

Clearly there was a moral to the story. And just as clearly, I got it in the end.