Into thin air on I-70
Has anyone seen my bathtub? How about my shower?
The last time I saw them was around 9 p.m. a couple Thursdays ago. My husband Erik and I were on our way back from a Home Depot-Sam’s Club-PetSmart shopping experience in Grand Junction. We had borrowed our neighbor’s big old Ford F350 truck because we needed to get some cumbersome remodeling supplies, and we needed a longer truck bed than what we have.
At Home Depot, we located the aforementioned tub/shower combo, and got some help from a Home Depot employee who helped us hoist it into the truck. The stall was huge – about seven feet tall and at least five feet long – and it probably weighed a couple hundred pounds.
The stall stood proudly upright in the open-air bed of the truck as Erik shut the tailgate. It was a clear, windless night, but even so, Erik tied a few bungee chords around the big fixture and hooked it to the truck – just in case. That baby wasn’t going anywhere.
Erik was planning on going hunting with friends, so at Sam’s Club he piled our shopping cart with all things carnivorous: ribs, chops, steaks and bacon. I found a couple big bags of veggie chips and tossed those in. Since we had the dogs with us and didn’t want them noshing on all the goodies while we weren’t looking, we parked the pooches in the cab and loaded the meat and groceries into the tub in the bed of the truck. After making a quick stop at the pet supermarket and taking a break for dinner, we were off – albeit loaded down – and running, heading east on I-70 into a late summer night’s darkness.
About 10 minutes into our return trip, we got a little thrill as the F350’s headlights decided to randomly shut themselves off. Erik and I both exclaimed, “Holy —-!” as Erik jiggled the light knob until they finally came on again. A big semi-truck, lit up like a Christmas tree, passed us and, since the driver seemed to be going relatively slow, we tucked in behind him. If the lights went out again, we’d be able to find our way.
We thought that the headlight problem might be an electrical one, so we quickly turned off the truck radio and drove towards home in quiet, occasionally chatting back and forth. The lights did their thing once or twice more but only for little spurts of time. It was an uneventful drive. We didn’t stop once, and kept pace with the semi-truck driver, anxious to get our neighbor’s truck, ourselves, our dogs and our supplies home.
All was calm until we reached the West Rifle exit, and Erik put on his blinker.
“Holy —-!” he exclaimed once again.
“What?! What?!” I yelped.
Erik yelled another very powerful four-letter word in rapid succession (hey, sometimes, swearing can be a real tension-reliever), and proclaimed, “It’s gone!”
He was right. Our gigantic fiberglass shower/tub was gone. It was almost like a “Bewitched” episode when Elizabeth Montgomery would snap her fingers and objects – be they elephants, people, structures – vaporized into thin air.
We pulled off I-70 thoroughly floored that our big fixture was no longer with us, and we immediately started back-tracking in our minds. Did you hear anything? No! Did you? No. How could it fall out and we not hear, see or feel anything? The tailgate was still up, and there was only the tiniest of a scratch on the bed floor, indicating that something white might have been lifted out. There were no bungee chords, no meat, no veggie chips, no tub/shower.
Once we assessed this truly remarkable fact, I immediately went into worst case scenario mode. Where is it, then? Did it hit anybody? Is anyone hurt? I felt sick.
We decided the best thing to do would be to call the highway patrol and I dialed *CSP and got connected with a dispatcher.
“Has there been any reports of debris on I-70 eastbound from Grand Junction to West Rifle?” I asked.
“What kind of debris?” the dispatcher asked.
“Well, a giant tub/shower stall and a bunch of meat. The meat was in the tub.” I was just trying to be helpful.
“The meat was in the tub…” the dispatcher repeated slowly. “I’ll check.”
She came back with no reports of anything … not a shower, not a tub, not meat. We breathed a sigh of relief, but then visions of a UFO snatching the stall straight up out of the truck and then splattering it in little pieces on the side of the highway came to mind.
We figured we wouldn’t be able to see anything in the middle of the night anyway, so we drove home, and got up the next morning and drove back to Grand Junction. We eyeballed every inch of the eastbound highway shoulder, seeing plenty of garbage (it’s disgusting how some people think the planet is their own personal trash can), and called the highway patrol again. They still had not received any reports of – anything.
Finally, between Parachute and Rulison, our mystery was solved, at least partially. We spotted little chunks of white material on the side of the highway, and we pulled off for closer inspection. It was our tub/shower, or at least little pieces of it. We also found a very empty bag of veggie chips, and the remains of what was a plastic-wrapped slab of bacon. There was nothing else.
We still don’t know how a very big and heavy tub and shower stall filled with raw meat managed to launch itself out of the bed of a truck and hurl itself to the side of the interstate. Uppermost on our minds is that no one was harmed in any way – minus the tub itself – by this strange episode.
Friends and family have been equally puzzled by this tale, with reactions ranging from hysterical laughter to blame. (“Doesn’t Home Depot have some way to deal with something like this?” asked one friend. Erik and I responded that we’re likely to receive the Stupid But Really Lucky Home Depot Shopper Award.)
We only wish we could have skipped a couple of steps along the way. The money we spent on the tub came from the sale of a motor scooter we sold earlier in the week. My husband says it would have been so much easier if we could have simply rolled the scooter out on the highway and let a truck hit it.
In the meantime, you can be sure that we’ll be tying everything down that we ever carry in the back of a truck. I’d advise you to do the same.
Carrie Click doesn’t tailgate anybody. A Post Independent reporter whose column appears on Tuesdays, she can be reached at email@example.com
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This will be my 500th column — my final column in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.