Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006

Make My Day

Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
Syracuse, Indiana

Printable version of this story

SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Warning: The next time you're going somewhere, before you even get in your car, call your neighbors and ask if they saw anyone crawl under the car. Next, get on your hands and knees to see if anyone is under there. Finally, ask in a loud, clear voice: "Is there anyone laying under my car?!"

If there isn't, you may proceed with your journey. If you're not sure, go back into the house, and wait until you're sure.

This is what the mother of Dustin Bailey expected a tractor-trailer driver to do. On August 12, 2000, trucker Samuel Stinson drove over and killed the 22-year-old Bailey, who was laying under the tractor-trailer. Surprise, surprise: Bailey was intoxicated at the time.

According to a story in the Charleston (West Virginia) Daily Mail, Stinson was delivering supplies to a Papa John's Pizza restaurant in Teays Valley, across the street from Rick's Pub, the bar where Bailey had been drinking.

Bailey left the bar with a 0.19 blood alcohol limit, nearly twice the legal limit. He then crawled under the parked tractor-trailer, without being seen by anyone. Bailey was killed when Stinson pulled forward to drive to the Papa John's parking lot.

So not too surprisingly, Bailey's mother Josephine is suing the former owner of Rick's Pub, Papa John's corporate owner, Stinson himself, and the truck's owner, Rollins Transportation, Inc. Also not too surprisingly, the suit does not say whether Bailey is accountable for his own death.

She wants $350,000.

Why? Because all of them, with the apparent exception of Dustin Bailey himself, failed to take steps in preventing her son's death.

Josephine Bailey's thinking is this: Rick's Pub is responsible because they served Bailey beer and mixed drinks. However, Rick's Pub is out of business, so she's suing the former owner. She's got to get her pound of flesh from them somehow, right?

She's going after P.S. Management, Papa John's corporate owner. She says Papa John's employees forced Stinson to park on the street for a short time, since their parking lot was full. And because the truck was on a public street near Rick's Pub, Bailey was able to crawl under it.

I'm guessing that Papa John's is being included, not because they did anything wrong, but because they have lots and lots of money. That 350 grand has to come from someone because an out-of-business bar, a truck driver, and a trucking company sure won't have it.

Stinson is being sued because he didn't look under his truck before pulling into the lot, because he didn't keep his truck away from Rick's Pub, and because he didn't turn his truck off while it was in the street.

Three problems: 1) Drivers shouldn't have to check under their truck for passed-out drunks; 2) how was Stinson supposed to know that Rick's Pub patrons would hurl themselves under the wheels? 3) he would need to turn the truck back on to drive it in the first place, so what's the big deal? Did Bailey think the underside of an idling truck was a warm and cozy place to sleep?

And, of course, Rollins Trucking is being sued because they own the truck in question. Since they're a business, it's assumed they must have some extra cash to dole out to families of idiots.

It's a well-established fact that most warning labels on products were made because some idiot tried using that product in that fashion, or that some lawyer was afraid it could happen. A prime example is the warning on car sun shields, "Do not drive with sun shield in place." So I can only imagine what a victory for Josephine Bailey and her greedy lawyer will have on the future of the trucking and restaurant business.

Ernie the Bartender: I'm sorry, Mr. O'Higgins. You've had several beers and mixed drinks tonight, so I'll have to stop serving you.

Burt O'Higgins: That's alright, I'm just going to go outside and take a nap.

Ernie: Just don't go to sleep under any tractor-trailers. Ha ha!


Earl Alberts: Hello Chicago Style Pizzeria manager Sven Olafsen. I'm here to make my delivery, but your parking lot was a little full, so I left my truck on the street. I sure hope no drunks crawl under it.

Olafsen: Gosh, let us clear out the parking lot for you, Mr. Alberts, so you can deliver your supplies. And remember what Sammy Safety says: Give a hoot, don't drive over drunks!

Alberts: I sure will! Hey, while you fellas clear the lot, I'll walk to my truck and start it up.

Sound Effect: footsteps on asphalt

Alberts (to himself): Gosh, that Olafsen fella sure is nice. I think I'll listen to a little public radio while I wait for them. Uh-oh, I'd better not forget what Sammy Safety says. I'll just check under my truck before I -- what the heck!

Sound Effect: "sproing" surprise sound

Alberts: Hey, mister! What are you doing sleeping under my truck?

O'Higgins (groggily): Jeez, I don't know.

Sound Effect: two pairs of footsteps running toward truck.

Olafsen: Gosh, Mr. Alberts, we heard you shout, so we came a'runnin'!

Ernie: What's going on, Mr. O'Higgins?

O'Higgins: I don't know. I remember leaving Ernie's bar over there, and I was a little tired. I saw this fella's truck parked in the public street, so temptingly close to Ernie's parking lot, I was drawn to it like Jason and the Argonauts were drawn to the Sirens.

Olafsen and Ernie: Jason and the who?

O'Higgins: Anyway, I heard it running, so I figured it must be safe to sleep under. But I wouldn't have gotten under there if it had been in a parking lot somewhere. Honest!

Alberts: Well, Mr. Olafsen, I remembered what you said about Sammy Safety, so I checked under my truck, like I always do. I found this fella sleeping under it.

O'Higgins: Boy, I sure am glad you remembered to look under there.

Alberts: So am I, young fella. So am I!

Sammy Safety: Hello everyone, I'm Sammy Safety. If only every truck driver would remember to look under their trucks for passed out drunks, the world would be a much better place. That's why I always say: Give a hoot --

All: Don't drive over drunks!

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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