Field Follies: It Always Happens In Threes

Field Follies

It Always Happens In Threes


I don’t like to touch objects of impending disaster. I learned this during my budding rugby career at the international level. About a month before a U-19 National Rugby Camp, I decided to take my more-than-healthy legs for a spin on my friend’s crutches for a bit of fun. Two weeks later, and 10 days before the camp, I tore what is so far my first of three ACLs in a pick-up rugby game. I blame the injury on that needless crutches joy-ride.

I bring this up because of what happened my first weeks in rangeland at the USFS as a college student. I was unknowledgeable and inexperienced, with few skills and fewer qualifications - basically just an extra pair of hands. Armed with this extra set of hands, my supervisor tasked me with taking a blown-out tire to the shop to get it replaced and then to go pick them up in the field after they had done actual work. No problem, right?

As many would know by now, nothing in my life comes this easy. The hours at the tire shop I went to were more of a suggestion and they opened up at least an hour late.

No worries, I’ll have time.

Because they were so busy, it took them another two hours to put a new tire on. Now I’m under the pump for time, especially since I only have a circle on a map and have never been to where I’m supposed to pick up the crew. Shockingly, I get lost and add another hour. I was just in time to pick them up, 45 minutes late.

Not the best first impression, but not devastating. I had excuses.

Two days later I was going to show them what I was capable of out in the field. So I went out to the yard, hooked up the horse trailer, and thought, “What a nice gesture it would be to pick them up curbside.”

I did, and so did one of the trailer tires. The curb put an impressive slash through the sidewall of the tire. Fortunately it was in the yard and only took us about 10 minutes to fix. Not the best second impression, but again, not the worst.

Early the next week they sent me off on my own. I thought, “Now I can show them I don’t screw up everything.”

All went splendidly out in the field until I blew out a tire on the ATV trailer on the way back. I pulled over, grabbed the jack and the wrench, and went to work. One slight problem . . . the wrench fit the truck tires, but not the trailer tires. As luck always plays for the other team in my life, I also found myself in a dead spot with both my cell phone and radio.

I pouted, then walked back to flag somebody down and pick up my tire pieces. As luck would have it, the next vehicle to pass was an ADOT vehicle picking up the same rubber I was, but his wrench didn’t fit either.

Thankfully he could reach his coworker who was following him on his nifty little radio – but did he have a wrench that would fit? Luck swapped teams, we fixed it together and I continued on my merry way. That Friday, I found another flat tire, but this time on my personal vehicle.

Not a great week overall, and particularly not your first week on the job. My supervisor started to get suspicious that I just may be cursed; my new supervisor thinks the very same way.

I think the jury is still out.

I blame touching that first tire. I still try not to touch objects of impending disaster, ever! It brings on the bad . . . in threes.