‘Have You Checked the Morgue?’
OpinionShaindle's Shpiel

‘Have You Checked the Morgue?’

Sometimes the need for speed creates a crisis before the holidays.

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Motorcycles at the annual Toco Hills Purim Parade are a bit more controlled and a lot more road-ready than a dirt bike decades ago.
Motorcycles at the annual Toco Hills Purim Parade are a bit more controlled and a lot more road-ready than a dirt bike decades ago.

I was never particularly enamored with convertibles.

I mean, convertibles with their tops down are fine for other people. People who enjoy wearing double-knotted scarves or head-hugging hats to keep their hair in place or do not care about hair resembling a rat’s nest. People who are not concerned with the little nose indentations caused by sunglasses being glued to your face by the wind.

I cared and care. I hate rats. I hate rat hair. I have a delicate nose.

I do like and respect speed. I don’t mind holding on for dear life to the reins of a horse when he suddenly realizes he has a speed nut on his back.

Before cellphones, there were CB radios. I loved talking to folks who were stuck in traffic with me. CBs were the original Facebook.

One of the main rules of the road for CB enthusiasts: Do not use your real name. Everyone had a handle.

My handle was the Lady Silver Bullet.

I loved talking with the truckers on my CB radio.

Truckers were the coolest people to travel with. They were always available to help, especially with directions. They were the original GPS system. When they realized I was a girl living up to her handle, they were my protectors.

I could always depend on truckers warning me about the County Mountie, the Plain Brown Wrapper or the Smokey (CB lingo for police).

When I was growing up in the Bronx, I knew two guys who owned motorcycles. I would long to ride on one, helmet on head. I did not care about helmet hair; motorcycle hair seemed so cool.

In 1970, my hubby and I and our four girls moved to Tampa. Tampa, Fla., was an idyllic place for my girls to grow up. Lots of sunshine, always outdoor play, small-town living.

So when one day the daddy of my four little girls announced he needed a motorcycle, who was I to say no way, Jose?

We decided on a dirt bike.

I loved riding the bike, and my girls and I loved being his passengers.

Dirt bikes are designed to take dirt roads with ease. They are not designed to stop short on the open roads, and certainly not on the highways and byways.

The year Rosh Hashanah fell on a Sunday evening, the father of my children determined that he absolutely had to take the bike to pick up The New York Times to read with his morning coffee.

My gentle reminder that the bike was not made for the open roads or sudden stops fell on deaf ears. Although I knew with absolute certainty, on this morning of one of our holiest holidays, there was nothing wrong with his hearing.

By the way, did you read the title of this missive? Read it again.

Vroom. Off he goes to pick up the Times.

Ring, ring. I answer the telephone. This is what I hear.

“Mrs. Shucker, Mrs. Schnick, uhm,” and strange breathing. Enough! I asked in a not-so-friendly tone who it was.

I was ready to hang up, thinking it was an obscene call, when the man at the other end said: “I am the manager of the McDonald’s. I am holding your husband’s driver’s license. Your husband was in a serious accident, but please do not come to this McDonald’s. We offered him a hamburger, fries and a shake, which he refused, and we all sat with him until the firetruck and ambulance arrived. They are gone now. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital.”

Wait! What?

I called Brenda, who lived down the street and was our beloved sitter. She ran right over.

I ran to a neighbor who was a nurse (this seemed important at the time), and she drove me to the emergency entrance of the hospital.

I could not speak, so she spoke for me, asking about a patient brought in by ambulance, a motorcycle accident.

The lady behind the glass looked through her check-in sheets and did not see his name or a motorcycle accident. “Have you checked the morgue?”

My neighbor grabbed me by the hand and dragged me up and down the rows of beds until we found him. An awful hue of green but alive. To this day, green is not one of my favorite hues.

We sold the bike.

This Lady Silver Bullet still loves speed but no longer longs for a motorcycle.

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