I grew up visiting my Grandad on his farm in South Texas, and have lots of stories to tell. I recounted this one during a writing class last year and thought I’d share!
I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw the reflection of our old pecan tree. I better not hit that, I thought as I gripped the burgundy leather steering wheel of my grandad’s pickup. I was sitting in his lap, not yet old enough to reach the pedals. My granddad put the truck in reverse, and I apprehensively guided it backwards down the driveway.
“Watch out for that tree!” my grandad exclaimed. His gruff voice brought me back to the cab just as I backed safely past the tree. Granddaddy, I am nowhere near that tree! I retorted, eyes rolling dramatically. My grandfather’s warning to not hit the pecan tree was something of a family tradition. He said it every time we backed a car out of the driveway, without fail, and I think my mom and brother were almost disappointed if he forgot.
(Never mind the fact he had a huge dent in the bumper from his own incidents with that tree.)
We pulled out onto the dirt road and eased past the house and barns. While I manned the steering wheel, he manned the brake and gas, setting a molasses-like pace which was also his signature.
I looked out the open window at the freshly plowed rows of red dirt. In the background Johnny Cash’s voice bellowed through the cassette player, “when Jesus was our Savior, and cotton was our king.”
The tires hit a bump, and my grandad cautioned, “Stay in the road!” This warning was another family tradition I could always count on. I turned the steering wheel so that the piece of tape my grandad had used to mark the middle was back in line with the road.
I checked the rearview again and saw Lucy, our corgi, standing on the toolbox and peering in at me through the back window. I knew what she was about to do. She was just letting me know.
Thump! Lucy landed on the roof with a thud, her little nails rattling the top of the truck. We could make her get down, but we knew all too well that she would get right back up there. With a corgi atop our truck like a roof ornament, we ambled on like a strange version of the Beverly Hillbillies. When we reached the county road, we came to a halt slow enough to keep our dog from catapulting off the roof. A shiny new oil truck was barreling towards us and we waited for him to pass.
Meanwhile, In the Oil Truck
The truck driver stared down the county road, fuzzy dice rocking back and forth and the CB radio chattering. Another day, another dollar. Nothing special to report about this day! he thought. He would barely have noticed the truck in the distance, except that it had an odd shape. He squinted, trying to make out its form.
Is that a dog? On the roof?
He looked in the cab and saw three people smiling as if this was normal and there was nothing to be concerned about.
And is that a ten year old behind the wheel?
With that, he gave two loud honks to acknowledge this unusual spectacle.