A Life Raft in Oklahoma

Jon Boede repeats this story that a friend swears is true.

OK. Here goes. I was 17, and had mentioned to my father that I was thinking
of buying a rubber boat for use as a scuba platform. My father managed to
get me one from the F.A.A where he worked. (Don't ask, I never did).

What he brought me was one of those Air Force survival rafts that they issue
to bomber crews with up to 10 men. I couldn't wait to test it, so I called
Jason, and told him to come on over. I took the back seat out of my VW bug,
and laid the seat back down. This makes a VW bug kind of like a hatch back
without the hatch. Jason got over to my place, just as our girlfriends showed
up. They had come over to see if we wanted to go swimming. I crammed the
raft, and both girls in the back of the VW (it was really tight), and Jason
in the passenger seat up front, and took off. I got onto IH35 in Oklahoma
City to head for one of the area lakes. The windows were down and the hot
August wind was roaring through the car like a minor hurricane. My girlfriend
started complaining about the wind, and a little red tag that kept getting
tangled in her hair. I told her not to mess with the tag, but she got mad and
gave it a good hard yank, intending to throw it out the window. Can you guess
what that little red tag was for? Yep, that raft started to inflate
right there in the VW! It takes about 15 seconds for one of those things to
inflate, and for the first 5 seconds or so I was frozen with something of a
mixture fear, amazement, and a sense of this really can't be happening!
In the 6th second the raft started pushing my head down against the steering
wheel hard enough that I couldn't really see where I was going, and started
pushing the windows that weren't down out of their frames, and onto the road.
By the time I got my wits back, the raft was fully inflated.

I managed to push my head up enough to see where I was going, and hopefully
avoid creaming anyone else on the road. By this time the real chaos had
started. The girls were screaming their fool heads off, Jason was laughing
like an idiot, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrolman that had been follwing me
when all this started had turned on his siren. I finally got the car to the
center median, and stopped. I got hold of the door handle to open the door
and pulled. The door shot open, and the raft exploded out of the car pushing
me ahead of it. When I got to my feet, the first thing I saw was the OHP cop
laughing so hard he had tears running down his cheeks, and having a hard time
breathing. I managed to get the deflate mechanism activated, and the raft
started to deflate. By this time, the cop was breathing again, and somewhat
coherant. He came over and told me that was the funniest thing he had ever
seen. I asked if I was going to get a ticket? He said no, he just wanted to
make sure no one got hurt. We folded the raft as best we could, and went back
to my place. The real fun was trying to convince my insurance company that
all that glass damage really was because a life raft had inflated inside the
car. They did pay off, but only after the insurance adjuster had talked to the
OHP cop. I can look back on this now and laugh. But for about 5 years after
that happened, anytime someone (Jason usually) mentioned it, all I could do
was turn red in the face.

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