Two vehicles enable my family to remain mobile. A green Subaru serves as our main form of transportation when we travel en masse to certain events. This small station wagon is more commonly thought of as my car, since it fits my stature and the requirements of my trips into our local metropolis.
Then there is The Truck. Our farm truck was secondhand when we bought it, and unlike the males in the family, I haven't a clue about the year of its creation and its make.
Rust spots spatter its black body and eat away at its sides and tailgate. Bumps and dents from farm accidents mar its dusty form. I cannot remember the last time it was washed or waxed. But I can identify my husband's arrival by that certain rattle of The Truck when it bounces up our driveway with a load of blueberries or hay.
I gave up trying to drive this beast when the seat refused to move forward enough to allow my short legs to reach the pedals. Plus, there is the added frustration of playing "eeny, meeny, miny, mo" with the steering column as I guess which little letter to aim for with the red line. A while back, The Truck decided to ignore those letters so that I cannot even rely upon "R" to mean reverse.
Because of all these character flaws, The Truck has become the domain of father and son and their farming artifacts: extra sticky traps to lure blueberry flies, spray bottles used to rebait the traps, and newspapers to start the bee smoker. The floor of The Truck is littered with their paraphernalia, along with an occasional candy-bar wrapper.
The other night, all of us needed a mode of transportation. I assumed the car would take me to church where I was to assist with a children's Bible club. John and Carlos would take The Truck to a beekeepers' meeting held at a not-too-distant restaurant.
My well-organized supplies for the club sat on the kitchen table while John and Carlos dashed about, cleaning up for their meeting. Scrambling for their hats, they ran out the front door as I ate my meager supper. Suddenly I realized they were taking off in my car!
I sprinted toward the driveway, but it was of no use. Off they zoomed, never heeding my frantic waving.
Surely, they would be back. In five or 10 minutes, they would comprehend their mistake and return with my car.
But no cloud of dust filtered up the drive, so I turned and stared at The Truck. I felt like the bereft young lad in "The Prince and The Pauper" whose circumstances have just turned upside down.
I knew that if I skipped the meeting, my absence would leave the club leader short-handed, so I yanked open The Truck's door. Shoving aside the flotsam and jetsam, I fought for a place to sit, my feet barely brushing the pedals.
I searched the dashboard for the light switch and was relieved when the headlights actually worked. Gently I eased the gearshift down until The Truck lurched into drive, and I practiced navigating a small field by our barn.
Thinking I might just be able to pull off this adventure, I packed up my supplies and aimed for the driveway. The setting sun necessitated lowering the visor, which coated my fingers with dust. And I was supposed to show up at church with this thing?
Traveling at 25 m.p.h. down our rural highway, I crept along while the other cars roared past me. Not even the bulky size of my monster vehicle comforted me when I navigated a left-hand turn. After more than twice my normal allotted travel time, I rumbled into the church parking lot and left the keys in The Truck. Actually, I had no choice, since they refused to budge from their slot.
It was dark when two hours later I coasted to a stop in my driveway, thankful for no mishaps. About five minutes after my homecoming, while I was walking our corgi, John and Carlos zipped into the garage. Laughing and chattering, they walked up the path toward me, carrying those little white boxes used for Chinese takeout.
"AHUM", I greeted them. "Did either of you ever remember where I was suppose to be tonight?"
I shined my flashlight on the merry duo and their white boxes. "And you went out for Chinese food without me?"
Horror and mortification swept their faces.
"You mean it never dawned on you where I was supposed to be tonight?" I handed my husband the dog's leash and marched back into the house.
Two meek men quietly closed the front door. "We're sorry," they said. "And neither of us wanted to eat at the restaurant where the beekeeping meeting was held. It's too bad you had to miss your meeting."
"I took The Truck," I told them and watched their eyes widened.
"Really?" they asked.
"Really," I answered.
I'm not sure if my maiden voyage off the farm brought increased respect or responsibility. I just hope that the next time we all need to gad about, that the men will leave me the car. And when the craving for Chinese food hits, we'll all go out together.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society