Friday, April 22, 2011

airbags and art

My son Aaron and his spouse Lauren, earn their living as professional artists. They live in Portland Maine and Aaron’s sculptures are in and around many public places in that state. He even has one that greets travelers at the gateway into the US from Canada.
A short time ago, Aaron made a proposal in Cleveland to install a large sculpture. Because of airline restrictions on packages, he shipped a model of his sculpture and some presentation materials to us instead of checking them as baggage. He flew into Buffalo, rented a car, stopped at our house, and assembled the scale model of his project. Emmy and I helped him put together the presentation materials before he drove on to Cleveland, Tuesday evening. The roads weren’t very good but he made it there and back to our house by Wednesday night without much trouble.
On Thursday Emmy, I, Aaron and his Grandmother, went out to dinner. The subject of vehicle air bags came up. Grandma said something to the effect that air bags in older cars could lose the compressed air in them as they got older. I said that there was no compressed air involved, but that the bags relied upon powdered chemicals reacting like a small explosion to inflate them.
My statement was met with silence, my mother in law nodded in her non-committal way, as she often does when I speak, my son and wife didn’t say much either. I had the feeling that were it just Emmy and I in the car she would have called me a liar. I felt they all thought mine a nutty idea; as usual Terry was making stuff up.
On Friday morning Aaron was to fly out. East Coast snow storms were causing flights to be delayed and canceled. I was playing with my laptop computer while observing the news on TV. It was near the time of the anniversary of the flight 3407 crash and there was to be a ‘walk’ in memory of the victims and to further the cause for changes in airline training policies. I personally dislike flying because I feel like one in a herd of cattle. I expect flight attendants to use an electric cattle prod at any time.
I had a queasy feeling in my gut as my eyes flicked from the TV to the laptop; Aaron’s flight was on the same airline and same De Havilland prop plane that had crashed the year before in Clarence, NY. He was going to ride it twice the same day with a layover in Newark. I know there is no reason for feeling jittery, if anything, the pilots, mechanics, all involved must want to be at their best.
I insisted that Aaron call me when he reached Portland. Both flights and his wait in Newark had been uneventful. He had landed safely in Maine. My uneasiness was relieved when I heard his voice.
The next morning Aaron called again to tell me that minutes after we spoke the evening before, he and his wife were broadsided at an intersection by a woman who ran a red light. His first new vehicle, a small pickup truck just six weeks off the dealer’s lot, was totaled. Everyone involved was examined by medical personal, one woman taken to the hospital. They all escaped with minor injuries.
Word of the crash was of course scary to me, but when I saw an emailed photo of his mangled and twisted truck I felt a shudder go down my spine.
A few minutes later, Aaron called back to add a comment about our Thursday conversation concerning airbags. After the accident, he and Lauren both were perplexed by a bad taste in their mouths. The EMT told them the taste was due to the chemicals that blew up the airbags.
I told Aaron it was nice that I was right, but I wished they hadn’t gone to all that trouble just to prove my point about the chemicals in those bags.
It was a hard lesson for Aaron and Lauren but, next time my family should believe me when I make up stuff..