The Day Willy Rear-Ended a Boat

Autobiography – My Life in Vehicles Part VII

Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 11.46.31It was a classic one-sided phone conversation. Best one I ever heard.

I was in the dispatch office – a former Fleet Wing gas station on West Ninth Street, next to the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway bridge. We usually stopped there before heading out on our truck runs.

My boss, Walter Johnson, answered the phone.

“Willy, why are you calling me?,” he said. “You’re supposed to be driving to Lorain.”

Willy’s run took him from Cleveland to Lorain and back via U.S. 6, which followed the shore of Lake Erie.

“You what?” Walt exclaimed, his eyes lighting up with surprise and anger. “You ran into a boat?”

There was a pause.

“Was it in the water?”

Turns out it wasn’t. Willy, a character in his own right, had rear-ended at boat, which was on a trailer being towed by a truck.

Walt didn’t fire him. Months later, Willy quit after winning a big medical malpractice settlement — the result of his wife dying in a hospital mishap. I inherited his Lorain truck run.

It led to one of the most bizarre chapters of my life – and college.