I Probably Wouldn’t Save You If Your Car Was Hanging Off An Embankment

Sure, I’ve fantasized about it.

There I am, driving down a darkly-lit mountain road, and as I come around the twisting corner I notice a car halfway off the embankment, having crashed through the guardrail. I quickly pull over, jump out of my car and run to you where I risk life and limb to reach out and pull you back from the chasm that would have claimed your life. I rescue you, you embrace me, and the news reports it as so.

Sadly, though — if it really happened I probably wouldn’t save you if your car was hanging off an embankment.

In the fantasy, I don’t put too much thought into the fulcrum your automobile has created on the wet, crumbly earth. I don’t worry about insurance issues, my bad knees (which would obviously bear the brunt of your weight), the rusty sharp edges of your mangled car, whether or not there’s more than one person in that car (often people and cars that shoot through the guardrails are piloted by more than one person) and a variety of unwanted drama that would obviously come out of me saving you, the whole news thing, and really do I need all that unwanted press?

But above all, what the hell am I doing driving around on some twisty, dark mountain road in the middle of nowhere?

First and foremost, I don’t camp. I’m not a camper. I don’t like going to the bathroom in the wilderness, I don’t like cooking powdered eggs on Coleman portable stoves and I hate the feeling of waking up in a sleeping bag, on the hard ground, in a cold tent. I just don’t. So I’m definitely not going to be driving up some twisty mountain road in the first place because I’d never be caught dead camping.

On top of that, I’m not a mountain climber or a sightseer. I don’t have any desire to go hiking in the middle of the day or for a weekend retreat. I’m not going to get myself sent to one of those leadership challenge courses or volunteer as a camp counselor at one of those “kids less fortunate” kind of “get out of the urban jungle and into the real jungle” kind of things that take place on the side of a sheer mountaintop. I also would never get caught dead driving around alone up some twisty mountain road because I’ve seen The Vanishing and I know that there are people out there like Jeff Bridges waiting at gas station rest stops who just want to shove chloroform in my mouth and bury me at the first chance they get.

So, yeah — I wouldn’t be driving up any mountain road.

Now that we’ve established that, the potential for me to be driving up some mountain road and come across you and your car hanging off a cliff, teetering on the edge — well, it’s probably pretty unrealistic. And with that being the case, the reality of me actually having to be put in a position where I would have to decide whether or not to save your life, well…is pretty slim.

But. If it did happen. I probably wouldn’t save you.

Some people hear my argument about never being put in a situation like this and they say, well OK, what if you were hanging out on the top roof of your office building and some guy had been standing on the edge thinking about killing himself, changed his mind, but then slipped and fell and was hanging on by one hand? Would you save him then?

Well, first of all — I don’t work in an office building. Second of all, you all know very well that those rooftop doors are always locked from the inside. So the last thing I’m ever going to do is go up to some rooftop just to hang out or smoke a cigarette (which I don’t do) to put myself in a position where I would come across some guy hanging on for dear life by one hand. It just wouldn’t happen. Same goes for someone hanging onto the edge of a girder (I don’t do construction) or having slipped and fallen into some big vat of taffy in a candy manufacturing plant (which I would also never find myself in since the Oakland, California Jelly Belly Factory Visit Incident of ’84).

But I’m not talking about people hanging off the sides of buildings, here. I’m talking about cars, embankments, chasms, teetering on the edge, fulcrum-stuff and rusty and sharpened edges of guardrail-smashing automobiles.

Which, faced with such facts, I still wouldn’t save you at all.

Know that this has nothing to do with you, your car, your potentially great promotion that you were on the way to claiming when you were picking your nose and not looking at the road thus smashing through the guardrail and over the edge of the cliff, or anything else.

Look, it’s me. It’s not you.

Have some faith in that fact, okay?

28 comments on “I Probably Wouldn’t Save You If Your Car Was Hanging Off An Embankment

  1. Keith - February 28, 2006 at 9:14 am -

    Dude, there’s plenty of precipices (precipii?) in the L.A. area. You don’t even have to go camping to have the opportunity to pull someone off an embankment, just drive down from the Valley to the Westside over Beverly Glen. But the fact that even then you might not save me just reinforces my belief that going to the Valley is a bad move for me.

  2. Hilary - February 28, 2006 at 9:22 am -

    Wait a minute–it’s plausible Pauly. Don’t you ever drive through Laurel Canyon? Twisting, winding roads, cliffs, darkness–it could totally be you!

    But yeah, what Keith said. Apparently 818-ers just don’t care about saving people. And I thought you were a friend Pauly.

  3. Pauly D - February 28, 2006 at 9:26 am -

    Guys – There are no CLIFFS on those canyon roads. There are houses on all sides. Now, saving someone after they crashed into someone else’s cliff house — okay. But chasm? No thanks.

  4. Hilary - February 28, 2006 at 9:44 am -

    Whatever mean 8-1-8 er! There is plenty of open space, sans houses, on Laurel Canyon. And Topanga Canyon. Mulholland. You could totally drive over a cliff there.

  5. The Centaur - February 28, 2006 at 10:38 am -

    I would actually take it a step further.

    Not only would I not help you, but I would curse you for being a moron and slowing up traffic while everyone weaves around your wreckage. If your call fell from the ravine into a fiery explosion, I would smile and call it poetic justice for making me late to work.

  6. kristine - February 28, 2006 at 10:58 am -

    um, yeah. i’m a new yorker and i was even thinkin’ what about Mulholland Drive?

    i mean, i can’t be the only one that thought that was a good movie…

  7. Pauly D - February 28, 2006 at 11:10 am -

    Kristine – No one goes up on Mullholand Drive just to go up on Mullholland Drive. I take freeways. They’re paved, safe, and there’s no cliffs.

  8. Kathleen - February 28, 2006 at 12:33 pm -

    like I need your help anyway

  9. Jerry - February 28, 2006 at 1:01 pm -

    I have to agree with Centaur. If it takes me 30 minutes to go two miles because there is an accident – ravine-related or not – and I don’t see carnage and death at the site then Damn you all to Hell.

  10. Pauly D - February 28, 2006 at 1:12 pm -

    Kathleen – You would totally need my help. I mean, you’re hanging out the passenger side door of your huge RV and…well… You’d need my help.

    Jerry – Well maybe what you could do if you come across an accident without carnage is just stand there and wait for the car to tip over into the ravine, and then you’d get what you wanted.

  11. Flower Girl - February 28, 2006 at 2:00 pm -

    Maybe I don’t want saving:
    Maybe it’s just a stunt and I’m just doing it for attention.
    Maybe it’s part of a psychological test.
    Maybe it’s an annual event and there’s a big bonfire afterward, which you’ll miss if you don’t stick around.
    Maybe I want the insurance money.

    Ever think of that? Huh?

  12. sandra - February 28, 2006 at 2:07 pm -

    What if I bribed you?

  13. Pauly D - February 28, 2006 at 2:13 pm -

    FG – Just be sure to tell me that you’re doing it for the insurance money before I don’t save you.

    Sandra – No small bills, please.

  14. Rabbit - February 28, 2006 at 2:41 pm -

    If your car were dangling perilously on the edge of a cliff, I would approach it, giving you false hope that I was about to save your meaningless life, but really I’d just be there to snatch the booze in the backseat that you were obviously drinking while trying to negotiate the dark, twisty mountain road.

    Cause I was headed to a party, you know.

  15. Dave2 - February 28, 2006 at 3:09 pm -

    Not only would I not save you, I would videotape you as you went over the cliff so that I could win money on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

    Isn’t it terrible what people find funny now-a-days??

  16. H.F. Peterman - February 28, 2006 at 3:50 pm -

    You’d feel differently if it happened to YOU! Just last week I was rescued from MY vehicle hanging from an STEEP embankment.

  17. robin - February 28, 2006 at 3:56 pm -

    Use THE FORCE! I mean..the Leaf blower! No no no, really. Use the Force!

  18. Kathleen - February 28, 2006 at 4:44 pm -

    since the Oakland, California Jelly Belly Factory Visit Incident of ‘84

    Do tell.

  19. Kathleen - February 28, 2006 at 5:17 pm -

    oh my huge RV, huh?
    well maybe you missed the side of it where it says, “GO AWAY”

    yea, Bode Miller’s RV.

    so hot right now.

  20. better safe than sorry - February 28, 2006 at 5:23 pm -

    i’ve got no mountains where i’m living, sounds like i’m missing out on quite an adventure that you’re not a part of.

  21. Michael O'Connor - February 28, 2006 at 5:53 pm -

    I gotta tell you Paul, my abandonment issues are starting to kick in and I’m feeling pretty lonely hanging down there by a thread. Are you sure you wouldn’t swing down on a rope and a prayer if you knew I had a satchel full of ideas for Friday “Words For YOUR Enjoyment?”

  22. Nicole - February 28, 2006 at 6:43 pm -

    Either I had a very vivid dream about this happening to me, or it actually happened but in my post-traumatic stress I blocked it out of memory by convincing myself that it was just a bad dream. Either way, it terrifies me more than being stuck in a car in a lake with water gushing in.

  23. Heather - March 1, 2006 at 11:09 pm -

    Bad knees, no sense of adventure (no one has to eat powdered eggs these days, or sleep on the hard ground when camping,) and lacking manly strength to pull people out of wrecked cars. I’m disappointed. I thought you were L.A.’s answer to the caped heroes of Gotham.

  24. Shevy - March 2, 2006 at 6:21 am -

    Well, at least we know where we stand. Hanging from the cliff, and looking up, we see you – and we know we are doomed for sure. Now, can you do us one small favor. Wear a name tag.

  25. cutiepie2 - March 3, 2006 at 7:14 am -

    You guys are cold! Be that as it may, at least you are honest! I probably wouldn’t attempt the rescue, but I would call for help. Whether I would stay for help to arrive…… That’s another question entirely…

  26. Pauly D - March 3, 2006 at 7:21 am -

    I would only call for help if they promised to reimburse me for the cell phone call.

  27. […] Does your car come equipped with one of those “OnStar” or “SOS” buttons inside it? The kind where, if god forbid your car was hanging off an embankment, you would press and scream into so the authorities would come as quickly as possible to save you? The kind that, without actually even having a telephone feature enabled in your car, still calls someone…somewhere, with the simple push of a button? […]

  28. […] found themselves in that situation — but WFYE wouldn’t. WFYE could be hanging off an embankment, teetering on the edge, but it would so hang […]

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