Wednesday, August 8, 2012

the difference two years can make

Once upon a time {8 years ago to be exact}, desperate for a summer job, I drove a combine.

fyi: ^this is a combine. 

I also started a blog just for that summer as a way to keep in contact with my college friends who had all dispersed back to their respective home towns for the break.  I had forgotten about that blog until the other day, while driving home, I saw some combines working in the field.  I looked up that ol' blog and  happily reminisced about the most boring summer of my life.

This account of the end of my combine career was the last thing I posted on that blog.  Oh, so dramatic.
Before i can get into the story i must explain something to you so that you can better understand what happened. don't feel dumb though because only about 0.1% of the worlds population would understand without needing an explanation because 99.9% have never driven a combine.

When people hear someone say "I was going 20mph" they generally think "car" and then they think "slow", but what i am asking you to do is to broaden this view and form some new synapses in your brain. I mean if someone tells you that they were running at a speed of 20 mph you'd think "woah! that's fast!". If someone told you they were riding their tricycle at 20 mph you'd have the same reaction. Well, now apply that reaction to "I was driving a combine at 20 mph". Considering that combines are usually driven at 3.5 mph around a field, going down the road at 20mph is very fast. This is due to two reasons: (1) the turning radius is crazy on those things and they are rear wheel drive (2) the steering wheel does not pull to the center like a car does and they are extremely sensitive especially when going at high speeds (such as 20mph aka the max speed of a combine)--think arcade driving games, no joke.

so now that you somewhat understand I can continue with my story

Today was my last day at work. Actually yesterday was supposed to be my last day because my grandma and aunt came in on wednesday, but my boss begged me to stay until friday because he figured that everything would be finished by friday. i told him that i would stay through thursday but that's it. so today i went in filled with the hope and expectation of making my last $96 and then calling it quits for my combine career.

We finished up the field at about 10:45am this morning and so then it was time to drive on to the next field which was about a half an hour away. After several weeks of driving a combine I had grown accustomed to the road preparation rituals. I shifted into third gear, pulled my ladder in, and turned on my flashing lights. After we were all set, we took off. Remembering about 2 minutes into the drive that i had not buckled my seat belt (which i would always do when we'd go out on the road for fear of losing control and rolling into a ditch) i reached over to grab my seat belt. Just as i was pulling the belt out, something went terribly wrong. I'm not sure exactly what caused it in the first place, maybe i hit a bump which made my combine swerve, maybe i accidentally bumped the steering wheel, i do not know. I do know however that i quickly let go of the seat belt and grabbed the wheel and tried to correct my path so that i would not head off the road. I over corrected, then over corrected again (which as i told you before is extremely easy to do in a combine). After the second over-correction I did not get another chance. My combine was heading off the road into a ditch at 20 mph (remember, 20 mph = very fast for a huge cumbersome combine). i tried to slow down but it was of no use. my combine was off the road and tipping side ways. Everything in the combine including a cooler, which bust open spewing it's contests all over the cab, flew past me to the right side of my cab. My combine proceeded to flip past 90 degrees and would have kept going if an electrical pole had not stopped it.

Processing what had just happened, i sat/hung there sideways and slightly upside down in my combine held in place between my steering wheel and my seat. I watched as the pickup and the other combine continued driving on.  i figured they would have seen what happened and would stop, but that was not the case. They had no idea that i was now hanging from my seat with a crunched combine and a tipping electrical pole. After everything that had happened sunk in, I had to squeeze myself out of my seat and find my CB radio among the mess that was now scattered over my right window.  sitting down in the corner of my ceiling, i called the other combine driver and told her what had happened. I watched as she came running down the road and then i decided to try to climb out. However, i could not get my door (which was now on my "ceiling") to open to a point where i could hold it and climb out because the ladder was pulled in and was holding it down. at that point i sat back down on my ceiling and looked around me. it was at that point that i remembered that fudge (my childhood dog) was in there with me and that she too must have been tossed around the cab. she was standing there on one of my control panels looking at me and shaking uncontrollably. I scooped her up and it was at that point that I started crying. 

I later found out that I had knocked out all the power for Tangent, Oregon for the rest of the day.  Fudge and I were fine.  My $250,000 combine was not.  Needless to say, I did not get my summer bonus.
Hilarious now, not quite so funny then. 

This all happened on August 12, 2004.  This exact date, two years later, could not have looked any more different.

I didn't even realize these two events shared the same day until just now.
Life is funny.


  1. That's so cool that you used to drive a combine! Although I am very sorry to hear about how you ended your combine-driving career, that must have been scary.
    Funny how your wedding was exactly two years later :D I believe an early Happy Anniversary is in order?

  2. Oh my gosh! This is the best and craziest thing I have heard! What a story! I'm glad you were okay!

  3. omggggg! you drove a combine?!?! i cannot picture your pretty little self in one of those monsters.

  4. What can I say? You are a cool lady. Driving a combine is a story that you can tell to your grandchildren. Then you will be the hip granny. :D

  5. That is so funny how life works out! My twin sister has been keeping a "five year journal" I think she bought hers as urban outfitters anyway it is fun for her to tell me what I was doing last year and the year before..haha

  6. Oh my goodness.... This is hilarious- but I see how it would be nothing close to that at the time. Christine the combine driver- Who knew!? I love it. And, how terrifying to have a combine crash. Do you think others have shared this same experience? hmmm...


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