People on the Highway

My senior year of high school I was working an after school job at a fried chicken place in a mall food court.  Shifts would generally end after 11:00 and I would be home, very ready to sleep, by 11:30 or midnight (depending on how poorly I cleaned up before close).  Because it was a night shift far from home I drove myself to and from work in my beloved POS car, a Ford LTD.  The LTD died dramatically.  Just an awful death caused by awful engineering.

For a couple of nights getting to and from work though, my dad let me borrow his fancy schmancy sports car.  A zippy Toyota MR2.  It was sleek, greenish I think, and so low to the ground it was almost terrifying.  One night driving home in my dad’s beloved vehicle I was being tailed like none other.  Guy behind me is so close I can only see head lights.  It felt like the darkest midnight ever and here I was driving by a cemetery in near sunlight.

I thought, “this dude* is going run into my dad’s car and no matter what I am a dead man.”  (*I didn’t call him ‘dude’).  So I did what any 17 year old in a sports car would do; speed up to 50 to ditch to tailgater.

Not a second after hitting the 50 MPH mark the car behind me lit up the entire city with red and blue lights.  Cop.

I have not borrowed one of my father’s cars since.

Today, I saw a kid taking a borrowed car to school and I saw a story repeated time and time again.

Today’s tale: Ten and Two

 

Rusted and dented, the blue Ford F150 Ranger is a perfect first car.  Too beat up to care about, sturdy enough to survive pretty much anything, and too old to manage a cross country escape; the truck is perfect for what appears to be a 12 year old driving to school.  Obviously, the kid is not 12, but I have my doubts.  He’s a newbie for sure.  Trusted with the keys to the truck his father inherited from his father.  He’s under strict rules; drive to and from school, no passengers, not even Maria. No, especially, not Maria.

I doubt his father is one to make idle threats either.  Bumper stickers plastered across the car read “PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals”, “RoadKill” and the requisite second amendment skull and crossbones sticker in the back window.  When the kid pulled in front of me I was listening to “When Rhetoric Dies” by BoysSetsFire, so I imagine the kid’s dad and I would have some fun conversations.

The kid is white knuckling the steering wheel.  He had to go through three driver’s education courses before his parents trusted him behind the wheel.  He knows what he’s doing, but there’s a healthy dose of fear in him.  He’s hiding his eyes behind sunglasses, but his brow is raised like he’s watching a horror movie he does not quite yet understand but knows something is going to happen at any moment.

The light turns and he heads left to school.  The engine rumbles and shakes my car a bit.  He’s off to learn about civics and chemistry and all the fun stuff that makes up grade 12.  He does not care one bit about any of it.  He has his old man’s truck and at lunch he can go wherever he wants.  Today, he’s thinking a trip to Subway is in order.  Rules be damned!  He’s going off campus and Maria is going with him, if she wants, you know, no big deal (which is actually a very big deal, but he won’t let on).

There’s freedom in the truck.  He can go explore the world or at least a twenty mile radius that the engine can put up with before requiring more oil.  He just really hopes his parents do not find out.

 

 

Thanks for reading!

There’s a whole book of these too.  Click here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VUE2OQS

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