Derek Gentile: Never fear, I'll be ready next time


The weather has been a little odd lately. And when you have a real leg and a fake one, you pay more attention to it.

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter.

I was driving home several nights ago, and it was drizzling lightly. No problem, I thought to myself. Actually, since I talk to myself in the car a lot, I probably said it aloud.

I pulled into Great Barrington, and the drizzle had, if anything, lessened. Great, I said to the dashboard.

I park in a downtown lot, which makes sense, since I live downtown. As I pulled into the lot, my car skidded slightly. Hmm, I said to the steering wheel.

I got out, and my suspicions were confirmed. There was a thin veneer of ice on the ground. So, OK, I can handle this. It wasn’t the first time I’d had to deal with this. I actually navigate pretty well in the snow and ice.

Most of the time.

I walked slowly down Main Street to my apartment. Things were going pretty well. It was a little slippery, but not too bad.

Then I got to Railroad Street. I could see the icy parts of the sidewalk, because they would reflect the street lights. On Railroad Street, there was no reflection on the blacktop. I stepped out into the road, and boom! I slid halfway across the road.

Now, this wouldn’t have been a problem except for one minor issue: My fake leg popped off my body like the head of a dandelion and skittered to the southern side of the road.

This has happened before, so I knew it wasn’t a major deal, health-wise. I wasn’t frightened or anything. It was just a pain in the neck.

But I was on my back, and the road was icy. And while it was about 12:30 a.m., there is still a fair amount of traffic on that street.

I began rummaging in my pockets for my cell phone to make one of the odder 911 calls I’ve ever made, when a young man came up to me and said, "Hey, are you OK?"

"Ah, no," I said. "I need a little help."

So the young fellow, whose name I later learned was Chris Soules, from Sheffield, made the 911 call to the Great Barrington police.

And not only did he wait with me, but he stood in the middle of Railroad Street while I reattached my leg.

(Now, I’ll bet blueberries to a barn dance you have never, ever read that previous line in your life in a column, folks.)

About 30 seconds into the phone call he said, "Excuse me, but they [the police] want to know your name."

I understood that it was for the police log, but I can remember thinking, I get along with everyone at the station, right? They all like me, I think.

They did. Two officers responded very quickly. And, after the obligatory joshing, they lifted me up and helped me to my door.

I thanked Soules, but I wanted to thank the GBPD for responding so quickly. I wasn’t dying or anything, but it’s darned embarrassing lying in the middle of Railroad Street with your leg five feet away. So, thanks, boys.

This had never happened to me before. I don’t slip or stumble, even in snow. So the next day, I retraced my steps.

What happened was the air temperature shifted from 33 to 32 degrees. It was still drizzling, but when it hit the ground, it turned to ice. And while the Barrington Highway Department keeps the main roads pretty dry, all this had happened fairly quickly. I heard sanding trucks come by later that night. I believe I had the unfortunate luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I probably would have slipped even with two legs.

But never fear, I’ll be ready next time. I still have a cane and I’m never afraid to use it.

To reach Derek Gentile:,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions