Thursday, August 1, 2013

"I Don't Think We'd Come To The Show If You Guys Weren't Here"- Man At Intermission

Wednesday, July 31: Massillon, OH-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 32
Lot: Knights Of Columbus Grounds

On this morning's drive, about nine miles away from Minerva, my trailer came off my truck hitch.
I had just crested the top of a hill, and as my truck started to go down, I heard a loud, metallic banging noise. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a terrifying sight- my trailer starting to pass me on the passenger side.

I started exclaiming, "Oh God, oh God, oh God!", which woke Christian up from his nap in the passenger seat. He didn't know what the cause for alarm was; he thought we were about to crash into oncoming traffic.
I tried to get in front of the trailer so I could stop it with the truck, but I didn't act fast enough. The trailer continued, nose down, into the grass on the side of the road. It finally came to rest in front of a church, with the trailer hitch stopped by a little grass hill.

I pulled over to the side of the road so Christian could jump out and assess the damage. I pulled my truck into the parking lot of the little post office across the street, and then I walked over to the scene of the accident.
I am so lucky. The whole scenario could have been so much worse (a mantra that I repeated to myself throughout the day to avoid an emotional break down). No one was injured, and there was only minimal (in the grand scheme of things) damage done to my trailer. The only damage I caused to the surrounding area was some ruts in the grass and an uprooted speed limit sign.
I missed a cross in front of the church by a foot or so. Just a reminder that I owe God big time for helping me out. I think me building a few churches might just about put us even.

I called Fridman to alert him to my situation, and then I waited. A cop came by after awhile and took charge, photographing the accident scene and getting pertinent information from me (my driver's license, truck and trailer registration, insurance info, etc).
The officer had me fill out a witness statement, explaining what happened, and then he gave me a ticket for not having any chains or other towing safety requirements on my rig.
Luckily the cop was very nice, and the ticket wasn't exorbitant. (it was less than that unnecessary D.O.T. violation I got two years ago!).
Once again, things could have been so much worse.

Fridman and Castro arrived while I was filling out the paperwork, and they got my trailer level again. The crash broke my trailer jack and wiped out the front bottom corner of the trailer. The little compartment where my batteries are stored was also annihilated, and the two batteries were damaged.
Once again, things could have been so much worse.

Fridman and Castro were able to diagnose the problem for me. Last night when I was hooking up, my trailer hitch was a few inches off to the side from my truck's ball hitch.
I had Peter help me pull the trailer hitch over on top of the truck, but in doing so, the little latch that locks the trailer in place slid up and locked before the hitch was lowered onto the ball.
This caused the hitch to not go all the way down, and when I slid the pin into the latch to fully lock it, I was just preventing the connection from happening. The trailer was just barely sitting on top of the ball hitch.
When I crested the top of the hill this morning, the trailer came right off as the truck started going down the hill.
A stupid mistake on my part. A stupid, terrifying mistake.

Fridman and Castro helped me get hooked up to the trailer again (not an easy feat since the accident happened on a narrow two lane road with very little shoulder space for parking), and then I was on my way to Massillon.
I caught Alex, the 24 Hour Man, just as he was leaving the lot, and he parked me in the back yard.

I called Danny to see if I could borrow the show's flat bed truck, and then Fridman, Castro, and I went to Tractor Supply to pick up what we needed to fix my trailer. I got a new jack, chains (and the hardware to connect them to my truck and trailer), and a new battery.
We then went to Lowe's so I could get a new propane line for my water heater. In the crash, the copper tubing attached to the water heater broke off.

As soon as we got back to the lot Fridman went to work on my trailer. I turned right around and went with my friend Jeff Potts to take Polly to the vet.
Like I said in my last blog post, Polly has been acting very strange lately: lethargic and aggressive....there was definitely something wrong with her.
The folks at the vet were very helpful. The doctor took a quick look at Polly and prescribed an antibiotic for intestinal and respiratory problems.
We were in and out in no time, and at a nominal cost to me. I wish my hospital visit earlier this year had been more like that!

Back at the lot Jeff helped me crush up the pills and mix them with water, and then while I held Polly, he administered the first dosage by shooting the medicine down her throat with a little syringe.
The doctor gave me enough medicine for eight days, so hopefully by the end of that period my little duck will be back to her normal self.

Jeff brought pizzas for me and Ryan's family for lunch, so once we got back to the lot (around 2:00 p.m.), I chowed down. It was the first thing I had eaten all day, and I was famished!

Fridman once again amazed me today with his speed and talent. Before the shows had begun, he had installed my new trailer jack (a good thing, since Ryan and I needed to unhook my truck to unload our props), and had also fixed the propane line to my water heater.
I'm going to miss him and Castro next year.

Herky, a Clown College grad and former Kelly Miller clown, is always a big promoter of Kelly Miller in Massillon; he is a local celebrity.
I was supposed to have breakfast with him and his family this morning, but fate had other plans.
I felt bad that I really didn't get to see him today, but I did manage to speak with him a few times during the shows. He was on hand to guest clown at both performances.

At the first show I got to see Lori and her son, Steven, two of our fans from Massillon. They always come to see Kelly Miller, and two years ago I gave Steven a backstage tour for his birthday.

After the first show Fridman informed me that the next step in fixing my trailer is building a wooden box where I can store my batteries. There is now also a hole in the floor of my trailer from the crash, but luckily it is under a seat in my dinette. He told me that if I have anything stored under there, I need to move it before it falls out on a jump.
I remembered that I had some very valuable things (sentimentally speaking) under there, including a pair of Wayne and Marty Scott clown shoes, so I went inside to move the objects.
I opened the box to look inside and saw that it was completely empty! Apparently my face was pretty priceless, because it gave Jeff Potts a good laugh.
Finally, after a few minutes of fretting and pacing, I remembered that some of the things under the dinette I had moved under my bed, and the rest (like the Wayne and Marty shoes), I had put in Ryan's storage unit in Hugo.
Whew! Nothing like a little good news on a rough day.

Armando let me borrow one of his wheelbarrows between shows, and I loaded it up with all the broken pieces of plastic and wood that Fridman had pulled off my trailer.
Becky decided to capitalize on the occasion and snapped this great photo of me on the way to the dumpster:

It's going to be the cover image of her new tell all book, "Misery, Thy Name Is Copeland- One Clown's Downward Spiral Off The Deep End: A Love Story".

Dave Powell and his family came to see the second show. Before hand he came over to show me some snapshots of the L.E. Barnes Circus in 2001 (forgive me if that year is wrong). It was funny to see Becky, Marshall, Reyna, and little Johnny Moss twelve years ago.
Dave also showed us a photo of a painting he commissioned an artist in Alabama to do of me and Ryan. It is amazing! He is going to bring the original for us to autograph, and then he is going to make two big copies for us. I'll be sure to post photos when Dave comes back.

At the end of the day, Jeff Potts took some of us out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings. Since I had been through such a whirlwind day, Radar bought my dinner (and a stiff drink, which I definitely needed).

I am so lucky that I have so many people looking out for me, and willing to help me out on this show. The support I got today really helped keep my spirits up. Thank you so much to everyone that has helped me out; it means the world to me.

I did something stupid, I learned a lesson, and I'm paying the price for my mistake. But like a little orphan girl once told me, "The sun will come out tomorrow".
Onward and upward!

1 comment:

Don said...

I'm so glad that things turned out in your favor. We had a similar situation with one of the trailers on Big Apple Circus one year. The results were much worse...a total loss of the trailer and most of the things inside. You are a lucky man.

Glad you are OK.

All the best,

Don Covington