Tuesday morning, bright and sunny.  Woke before the alarm went off. Prepared for the day and loaded my equipment onto the truck. I started the truck and the radio sprang to life with the strains of “Today Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube.  I pulled out into traffic and merged into the lane of south bound traffic.  BAM!  *&%$#*@! 

I had rear ended the car in front of me. It had stopped abruptly after rear ending the car in front of it. The car I hit was that Swedish make known for its on road safety, which apparently is no joke.  It was like running into a brick wall. After checking with the other drivers to make sure everyone was uninjured, I surveyed the damage to the truck.  A dint in the front bumper and grill that was not so bad, but I noticed radiator fluid bleeding onto the road. Great. Just what I needed. The truck is a 1996 model and originally belonged to my daddy.

My Daddy had always wanted a pick-up truck and purchased one after his retirement. He proudly drove it until his illness prevented him from doing so.  After his death in 1999, it became the go to vehicle when someone in the family needed a car. That truck verified he is still taking care of his family and I had just mortally wounded one of the last physical manifestations of his love and protection.

The driver of the middle car in the accident took it upon himself to call the police, out of kindness and because his was the most expensive vehicle of the three.  As insurance information was exchanged between the appropriate drivers and we waited for the police officer, he asked, “Are you a Vet?”  He had noticed either my embroidered work shirt or the signs on my truck.  I answered in the affirmative and he went into the usual routine of telling me about his current pets and pets throughout his life as we began the long wait for a police officer. My responses to his conversation became reflexive as my mind was occupied with other considerations and concerns.

By the time it found its way down to me almost 4 years ago, daddy’s truck was pretty run down mechanically and aesthetically, so I began the process of putting it back together a piece at a time. When I determined daddy’s truck would be great for my house call practice,   I topped the repairs off with a bright new red paint job. Throughout most of my guardianship daddy’s truck sipped gas and ran like a top. daddy’s truck became a crimson icon of me and my practice: mature and worn from the trials of the world, but genial with poise and strength. Despite my best efforts, over 350,000 miles takes a toll on any vehicle and daddy’s truck started having one mechanical problem after another. It had reached a point the needed repairs were cumulatively more costly than the value of the truck. My mind was reeling with the realization I had probably killed my daddy’s truck.

The police officer finally arrived and my fellow accident victim’s pet stories were interrupted.  My attention returned to the reality at hand. The accident investigation wrapped up quickly. Initial accident reports were given to each driver, and no traffic citations were issued.  As I got into daddy’s truck to depart the accident scene, the police officer asked, “Are you a Vet?” and proceeded to tell me about her pets.  I abruptly cut the conversation short by handing her a business card and stating I was late for patient appointments.

I slowly drove the short distance to my office and watched the engine temperature gauge climb and remain in the “hot” zone while the check engine light came on. Upon completion of my appointments, I rearranged the remainder of my day’s schedule. What had been heralded by Ice Cube as   “…a Good Day” ended very late that evening with my trading in daddy’s truck for a new SUV.

Even though everything turned out for the best, I felt bad about the accident and trading in my daddy’s truck. I reluctantly reported the events to my sister who disseminated the information amongst my siblings.  In hind sight, I began to feel better about the events of that Tuesday, realizing and appreciating that my daddy was still looking out for me. He had provided a vehicle which saw me through a rough time in my life and career, helped me start a business, kept me safe in an accident, and aided in a down payment for a replacement vehicle. Thanks Daddy.

The day also resulted in a much unexpected bonus. The owner of the car I rear ended and the police officer called to make appointments for their pets with my practice.  I have got to work on my marketing techniques.

Dr. Pierre B. Bland is a small animal practitioner who offers office and house call appointments to his clients.  His offices are located at 3225 N. Andrews Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL and can be reached at 954 673-8579.