Sunday, October 3, 2010

Police, Pachyderms, and a Pickup Truck

Quote of the blog:

Sabra, on the first day of a family vacation: “By the end of this week I’m going to stop chewing my nails and get a different laugh.”


My family is a family of storytellers. We love to tell and share stories and many of our friends are the same way - and my mom’s friend Candee was no exception. Mom met Candee the second time my parents were stationed at Beale Air Force Base (AFB) in the late 70’s. From the first time they met they knew they'd be great friends, and they were. When Candee moved to Colorado she and my mom kept in touch via letters.

One day my mom received a letter (that she kept for years) that told the story I'm about to share. I grew up on this story - it's been shared for years and years and will be shared for years to come. I’ve never heard the story anywhere else, but sometimes I wonder if it has evolved into an urban legend somewhere – just because the story is that amazing and it happened just over 25 years ago. Like my mom and Candee used to say, "you can't make this stuff up."

The story is about Candee’s friend. She and her husband were dealing with some stress and wanted to take a break and get away for a while. They decided to pack their camper (the kind that attaches to the back of a pickup truck) and go away for two or three days. They did a bit of research and found a safari park that had recently opened a few hours away from their home. So off they went. They left one morning, arrived at the park, and drove around to see the animals.

While they were driving around an elephant attacked their camper and dented the side of it. It was a charge and dent and run. The couple were fine and the camper was drivable. They went to the manager of the safari park and reported the incident. He took all of their information and encouraged them to go into town and meet with a representative from their insurance company. He said if they filled out the forms at the insurance company he would be able to support the claim. So the couple drove into town, met with the insurance agent, who called the park manager to verify the story, and they were on their way.

They decided to drive down the road and find a campground where they could spend that evening. Then they would decide how to spend the next day. They pulled onto the freeway and had only driven a few miles when they heard a lot of sirens. They dutifully pulled to the side of the road to get out of the way and much to their surprise four or five cop cars surrounded the camper. They were pulled out of the vehicle, frisked, arrested, and taken to jail.

Earlier that day, when the couple had met with the insurance company, a bank had been robbed in the city. The getaway vehicle was described as a camper with a dented side. After the police made a series of phone calls the couple was released.

By this time the couple felt this vacation was more stressful than staying home. The getaway they had envisioned wasn't the kind that involved the cops. They were done. They decided to drive home, close the blinds, unhook the phone and not answer the door. Before getting back on the road the wife told her husband she wanted to lie down so she got out of the truck, walked to the back, got in the camper and went to sleep.

On the way home the husband stopped for gas. As he went in to pay the wife woke up and, seeing they were at a service station, decided to use the gas station restroom. When she came out of the bathroom she saw, to her horror, that her husband and camper were gone. Her husband had paid, come back to the camper and, thinking his wife was asleep in the back, had driven off.

There was the wife, standing at the gas station with no purse, no wallet, and no way to reach her husband (years before cell phones) and still miles from home. She walked back into the gas station and told her situation to the cashier. A man standing nearby heard her story and offered to give her a ride with him and his family. He said it was just a little out of the way and they were happy to help her. They drove her to her home, but must have taken a different route or driven faster than her husband because they dropped her off before her husband was there. Knowing that her husband was on his way she sat down on the front step to wait for him.

She didn’t have to wait long before her husband turned onto their street and pulled into the driveway but when he saw his wife waiting on the front step he was so shocked he drove right through the garage door.

How is that for a stress free weekend?


  1. Love your blog! I laughed out loud and startled my cats when I read this one!

  2. I told this story to my grandsons during breakfast this morning; they thought it was terrific and we all had a good laugh. The only story I have that comes close is when my mom went to a friend's house for a Book of Mormon informal study group and a SWAT team in full gear charged through the door. The friend's ex-husband lived in the basement and had been running some kind of betting pool at work.

  3. Wow! I laughed my head off. That is hilarious! Good story!