Pardon me while I interrupt this week of news with a bit of personal adventure.
I was in a traffic crash Tuesday.
No injuries, thank God. Both drivers escaped with only frustration.
I’m not blaming Chipotle, though I was headed there to grab a photo in the moments after it opened on Main Street in Inverness.
While I am not a Chipotle person, I’ve heard from plenty of Chipotle people to realize this was a long-awaited day. Just Wright Citrus had to capture the moment for history’s sake.
There was a backup on S.R. 44 as cars turned into the parking lot and I was in the center lane near the school board. Someone wanted to turn left onto 44, so I waved to let her out. Two cars stopped to give her space, she pulled out, I pulled in, the first car stayed stopped, the second one didn’t and there you go.
I got out, made sure the other driver was OK, then called 911. We moved our cars into the school board parking lot, which was a good thing because — I’m totally serious — passersby were yelling obscenities at us because the wreck blocked the S.R. 44 eastbound lanes.
Hey, I totally get the inconvenience, but what kind of life are you leading that it’s OK to yell at people who just had a car wreck?
The deputies were super nice and efficient, and somehow we managed to avoid any serious rain while out there. My wonderful wife Deb came from work to wait with me.
And…I was cited. I’ve been to enough of these things over the years to know about who has the right of way and, in this case, it clearly wasn’t me.
The Just Wright Citrus fleet sustained damage to the front end. I drove it to the County Commission meeting and pondered what to do.
One idea came to mind: “That’s not so bad. I can drive this Malibu with the crunched front end and everyone will think I’m making a statement. They’ll ask, ‘What’s your point?’ and I’ll smirk and say, ‘Isn’t it obvious?’”
(No, I didn’t hit my head on the steering wheel.)
I’m extremely grateful no one was hurt. I’m definitely going to slow down and pay better attention to my surroundings.
And, yup, I got my Chipotle photo. Because the news doesn’t stop with traffic crashes, buster.
— Totally unrelated but a little transparency:
Tuesday’s news that Tampa General Hospital bought the company that owns what we know as Seven Rivers Hospital certainly brought back a flood of memories.
That Tampa General will own a Citrus County hospital and it’s not the one in Inverness is indeed an eye-opener.
And, yeah, I know that history.
But I’m not touching it.
Someone who shares my last name works at HCA Florida Citrus Hospital. When Deb was first hired there about 13 months ago, I decided simply to keep the hospital out of the blog. I mean…what are the odds I’d run into some political issue involving HCA Citrus?
Then Tampa General enters the picture and we hit that threshold. So, clean I come.
If you really want to know the Tampa General/Citrus Memorial Hospital story in Citrus County, ask Gerry Mulligan. He’s the one who forced me to write all that stuff a decade ago.
You’re not missing anything by me not tiptoeing down that memory lane. It was reporter hell. I remember my late colleague Pat Faherty looking at me one day with the newspaper in his hand saying, “You know, the only people following these hospital stories to the jump page are their friends and relatives.”
He was right. They don’t hand out award hardware for “Best Reporting of Contentious Four-Hour Hospital Board Meeting” stories.
Like I said, though, I’m leaving this one on the sidelines. I’m confident both hospitals will continue to serve our community in exemplary fashion.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m headed back toward Chipotle. Can’t find my headlight.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.