Recently, I told the tale of how I broke my arm doing foolish things with cars. Well, today I will regale everyone with the story of how I almost broke someone else’s arm doing foolish things with cars.
The year was 1998 and my friends and I were all relatively recent licensees. One of my favourite classes in high school was Audio Visual Tech because it allowed me to play with all manners of audio, video and digital recording equipment. It was nearing the end of the semester and the big year-end project was to make a five-minute short movie.
Of course, I had no plan on what to do for my final video other than it would involve my two biggest loves – cars and music. To star in this video, I assembled a group of friends consisting of anyone that was available and willing. The plan was to head just outside of town to where there were dirt roads…and that was as far as I had gotten.
I climbed aboard my parent’s trusty 1996 GMC Safari, loaded it with gear and friends, and headed out. One of my friends, we’ll call him G, brought along his parent’s 1988 Toyota Camry and I had my first idea. The video would be some sort of car chase film, like the Dukes of Hazzard minus the cool cars, good driving, jumps, excitement or competent camera work.
I honestly can’t remember the premise of the chase, and I’m unsure I even had one back then. It just involved me driving my parent’s van with a friend, trying to get somewhere for some reason. The video was basically just a bunch of crudely cut together driving scenes with music playing in the background.
One shot I thought would be genius was for G to chase me in his Camry, like he was the police. We had one of those roof mounted orange flashing lights and another friend, we’ll call him P, had come to the shoot wearing a pair of mirror aviator sunglasses.
We quick drew up a plan for the scene and decided I would drive toward the camera, zig zagging on the road while G followed in the Camry. P would stand up out of the sunroof of G’s car and throw a donut at my van (get it, cops and donuts? We were such witty teenagers).
As we did the shot, P got ready for his part, stood up, took a big bite out of the donut and chucked it at my van. Unfortunately, at the exact moment G got a little too exuberant with his zigging and zagging behind the wheel. This caused P to lose his precarious balance and he landed back first on the automatic gear shifter. There was an audible yelp heard across the country.
He was done volunteering for the day.
A Truly Stupid Idea (And We Loved It)
Thankfully, we were almost done filming by that point. We just needed a one more shot. As I searched around, I spied an intersection featuring a massive puddle. My friend, we’ll call him H, suddenly blurted out a truly idiotic idea, and I loved it.
He volunteered to stand right beside this small ocean-of-a-puddle and have me drive by and splash him. We were only about 10 minutes from our houses, and this was the last shot of the day. He said if I drive home right after to dry off and change, he’d be up for it.
Well, you didn’t have to ask me twice to do something dumb an automotive based back then – we were going to do this. We measured the puddle very scientifically with a broken tree branch to see how deep it was and all agreed it should be ok to drive through. H stood on the far side of the puddle and I lined the van up about 500 feet away. We positioned two people at the crossroads of the intersection to make sure of no oncoming traffic.
The Big Finale
The camera man gave me the thumbs up and I set off. I wanted to make sure the splash was big enough to look good on camera, so I floored it all the way to the puddle. I looked down just before hitting it and was travelling at a speed of 60 km/h.
I hit the puddle with force. The entire right side of the van was engulfed in water. It went clear over the roof. I threw the windshield wipers on and headed back to collect H. He was dripping wet from head to toe. A last-minute decision was made to put his glasses in my van before the big splash. In hindsight this was a great idea as the force of the water probably would have blasted them 100 feet into the neighbouring brush.
I asked him if he was ok and he said yeah, he was mostly dry under his outer clothes. He climbed into the van and we headed for home. On the drive, he started to mention his wrist hurt a bit and he had no idea why. We brushed it off as maybe the water just hit it hard.
It is Not Supposed to do That
Once H had cleaned up and changed his clothes, we all gathered to watch the truly terrible footage we had shot. After a while, we finally arrived at the scene we had all been waiting for – the big splash.
It was absolutely glorious. It exceeded anything I had envisioned in my head. H was just standing there alongside the puddle when suddenly the Safari came into frame at an alarming rate of speed and hit the minor pond square on. A wave of water no less than 15 feet high shot up in the air and engulfed him.
We re-watched that clip a half dozen times before it was suggested to run it one more time in frame-by-frame slow motion. The van slowly moved across the screen one frame at a time until it reached the puddle, water began rising from the wheels as the van approached H – then we all collectively saw it.
Everyone’s faced contorted into a mixture of disgust and terror. You see, for added effect, H had stuck his arm out with his thumb up, mimicking a hitchhiker looking for a ride. That arm was the exact height as the Safari’s extra wide side mirrors. As I passed by, at 60 km/h, a bit too close to H, his right hand connected with the van’s mirror and his wrist snapped back. I mean, it did a 180-degree bend and it looked like his knuckles slapped back against the top of his forearm.
We all looked at H in absolute horror. How was his right hand still attached to his body? Or at a minimum, how was his wrist not shattered into a million pieces? He understandably looked a bit queasy.
But somehow, like often happens with dumb teenagers, we got away with it. No one ended up seriously injured. Oh, and if you’re wondering, the video did indeed suck, but I think that shot saved it and I still got an A. Smashing that wrist, totally worth it.