Yup, that's exactly what was on my mind day after day after day at about 5:30 p.m. M-F, back in the early 90's, when I was commuting from my State Farm Insurance job from Northridge to Simi Valley on the CA-118 freeway.
I don't remember when exactly I first spotted Ernie, but once it registered in my head that it was him laying there on the side of the road, I couldn't help but look for him every night after work while bumper to bumper in Caltrans' road work hell. He kind of became a mascot signaling the end of my workday. A beacon at about the half-way point on the road to home - laying just to the right of the white line.
First, a few hundred feet to the concrete lane-blocking barriers. Then, ever so slowly, everyday he was a bit closer to where the barriers started to block the far right lane, forcing all us commuters to merge left. Did anyone else see him? Did anyone even care that Ernie - our favorite Sesame Street character lay abandoned? Injured? How did he get there? Was a child heart-broken, having lost his beloved stuffed Ernie? I'd like to think it wasn't BERT's doing....?? I know they had their issues, but come on. Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck fought - and in violent, explosive ways, but they always showed up in the next cartoon. They were never missing.....
So, after a number of weeks - you know road work in California can take decades! - I finally told Phillip about Ernie and how he lay there, getting rained on, getting wind blown, getting fumed out from all the bumper-to-bumper traffic AND how someone needed to SAVE ERNIE!!!
Alas, the following weekend after spending the day with some friends in the "Valley" the four of us were on our way back to Simi - on the CA-118 freeway. There HE was. Almost up to the barriers. Close enough to save from the side of the freeway safely -blocked by the barriers. Our friend, Darrin, who was driving, pulled over past the barriers and I watched my sweetheart of a husband from the rear window, run at least 1/4 mile, on the safe side of the barriers, and SAVE ERNIE!
What a guy! Oh and Ernie only had a scraped-up (read missing) foot fabric that exposed his stuffing. Ernie got cleaned up once we got home. Then he immediately went into Dr. Phil's Custom Propmaking & Repair Center for a quick miniature leg/foot cast. Yup, a real, honest to goodness cast. Ernie was on light duty and on Monday, after his cast was cured and hard as a rock, he accompanied me on my commute to work so all my friends and co-workers could sign his cast!
Really! This is a non-fiction tale. No names have been changed to protect the innocent (crazy humanitarians).
So, it shouldn't come as any surprise that just a few weeks ago, I saved Raggedy Andy from his sad life spent in a cardboard box at the local Y-Swap Meet. $2.00 and he was mine for the taking. He, too, needed a little TLC. You see, he had suffered some sort of neck injury - dog bite, mad child, freeway car accident???
I brought him home and promptly stitched him up and adjusted his collar to hide his scar! I think he is happier now, but he's still waiting to be re-united with his beloved Raggedy Ann... Be patient Andy. Your soul mate is out there somewhere. I'm keeping my eyes open.
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