This Lesson Really Stings, Part 3

, , , , , , | Legal | April 17, 2021

I have submitted a few stories about my father-in-law, including this one. My father-in-law is a pretty smart man, especially when it comes to anything construction, and the company he has worked with for several decades really values him.

My father-in-law is tasked with transporting a rather large piece of construction equipment to another part of the state down an old highway. It has to be loaded on a heavy-duty tractor-trailer; it’s huge, tall, wide, and expensive. My father-in-law prefers traveling late at night where there isn’t as much traffic and there’s a lower chance of ending up in an accident. Because of the size, he is required to contact the state Department of Transit (DOT) and get permission to go down the highway so as to make sure it can safely pass under the bridges on the way. My father-in-law takes time to measure the height and width at least three times.

So, he starts off. About four hours in, around 2:00 am, he comes upon one of the lowest bridges on the route. The bridge has a sign on it saying the height is 13’6″, which is about 6″ higher than the equipment he is hauling. He knows it is going to be a tight fit but feels confident he will make it. You already know what happens. Yep, he crashes right into the bridge. He calls the state police who show up with a DOT inspector, who just happens to be an old friend of my father-in-law.

Inspector: “Man, [Father-In-Law], you did a number on that old bridge. I am awfully sorry, but I am going to have to hit you with a number of fines and this could affect your license.”

Father-In-Law: “No, no, don’t apologize. This is my fault. I screwed up. You gotta do what you gotta do. I just don’t understand it. I measured carefully and I usually don’t mess up like this. Thank God there weren’t any other cars around. There is at least $20,000 in damage to the equipment and I don’t even want to think about the damage to that old bridge.”

As they are inspecting the damage, my father-in-law notices that one of the state troopers almost falls off the side of the road because it is high up. He begins looking up at the bridge and down at the road. He turns to one of the state troopers and asks him if he would mind measuring the height of the bridge from the road.

He does, and it comes out as 12’11”, a whole 7″ shorter than the measurement on the sign and the paperwork the inspector has. My father-in-law points it out. The state police begin measuring all along the road under the bridge. It comes out the same. The inspector is completely confused. My father-in-law calls him over to the edge of the road.

Father-In-Law: “I think I know what happened. Look at the road here and the layers of asphalt.”

The inspector comes over.

Inspector: “Looks like fresh asphalt. Yeah, they just repaved the road, but that doesn’t add 7″ to the road.”

Father-In-Law: “Yeah, but how do they normally pave a road?”

Inspector: “They scrap up the old pavement and…”

He trails off, rolls his eyes, and lets out a cuss word.

State Trooper: “Could y’all let us in on it? What’s the problem?”

Father-In-Law: “The way you are supposed to pave a new road is you tear up the old pavement and then put down the new asphalt. It’s what they do on the interstates, but this is an old highway that’s been here for over seventy years and they tend to not be as thorough.  They just lay down new on old and…”

State Trooper: “…build up the height of the old road.”

Father-In-Law: “Yeah, it’s not uncommon on these backcountry roads and this one has about seventy years’ worth of layers on it. I just have never had an issue before now.”

The inspector and state troopers stated that my father-in-law was not at fault. However, from then on, my father-in-law sent a lead vehicle two hours ahead of him to measure every bridge he had to go under to make doubly sure that it was safe.

Related:
This Lesson Really Stings, Part 2
This Lesson Really Stings


This story is part of our Best Of April 2021 roundup!

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