‘…You say you hit a pergola?’

Last week, a semi-trailer truck clipped a corner of the historic downtown Pioneer Square pergola in Seattle. Luckily, the pergola wasn’t badly damaged and only needed some paint touchups. It was a far luckier outcome than what happened back in 2001 when a semi-truck driver from Greensburg, Pa., also clipped the pergola and caused the entire structure to collapse in ruin in the wee hours of the morning.

Last week, a semi-trailer truck clipped a corner of the historic downtown Pioneer Square pergola in Seattle. Luckily, the pergola wasn’t badly damaged and only needed some paint touchups. It was a far luckier outcome than what happened back in 2001 when a semi-truck driver from Greensburg, Pa., also clipped the pergola and caused the entire structure to collapse in ruin in the wee hours of the morning. Here’s what happened following that one:

The phone rang and a Greensburg housewife walked across the room and picked it up.

“Hello?”

“Hi, honey, it’s me.”

“Pete?”

“Yeah. I’m calling from out in Seattle.”

“Is everything okay? “

“Yeah, pretty much. Except that I had a little accident out here this morning.”

“In the truck?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you hurt?”

“No, I’m fine. But I knocked over a pergola.”

“A pergola?”

“Yeah. A pergola.”

“Do you mean arugula – that stuff they put in the salads down at the Greensburg Denny’s?”

“No. The cops just keep calling it a pergola. All I know is that by the time I climbed out of my truck to take a look, it just looked like a big, twisted heap of metal and glass.”

“Oh, I think I’ve seen a picture of that thing in a magazine article about Seattle. “

“You have?”

“Yeah. Except that in the magazine it was called the Experience Music Project.”

“I don’t think that’s what I knocked over. It didn’t look like a project, just a pile of junk.”

“Then what’s the big deal?”

“I don’t really know, except that a whole bunch of cop cars and news crews showed up, all saying that I had knocked down a city landmark.”

“Oh my God, Pete! You didn’t tip over that Space Needle thing, did you?”

“I don’t think so. I didn’t see any sign of a restaurant. But it was really dark outside, and they’ve got so many lights turned off these days in Seattle, it’s hard to see landmarks until you’re right on top of them.”

“But I still don’t understand. How did you run into that pergola thing? Was it in the middle of the street?”

“Uh, no. I had to drive up onto the sidewalk to do it.”

“You drove onto the sidewalk, Pete? What were you thinking?”

“Look, this whole thing has been embarrassing enough without you piling on, too.”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”

“That’s okay. To tell you the truth, it was something one of the cops said that really stung.”

“What did he say?”

“He said it was too bad I wasn’t driving around that same neighborhood a few years ago. I could have knocked down the Kingdome and saved everybody a lot of money.”

“That was kind of snotty.”

“That’s what I thought.”

“So anyway, Pete, when are you driving back home?”

“Just as soon as I sign a few more legal papers here. I’ll call you in a few days.”

“Okay, Pete. And pick me up some of that yummy salmon that they throw around over at that Pike Place Market.”

“Will do.”

“But don’t take the truck over there. We don’t need you knocking that landmark down, too.”

“Good idea.”

A few days later, the phone rang again and the housewife answered it again.

“Hello?”

“Hi, honey. It’s Pete again. I’m calling from South Dakota.”

“That’s the state just below North Dakota, right?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Well, why are you calling?”

“I’ve had another little accident.”

“What happened this time?”

“Have you ever heard of Mount Rushmore?”

Pat Cashman is a writer, actor and public speaker. He can be reached at pat@patcashman.com


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