Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Driveway Moment

I think it was NPR that coined the phrase "driveway moment". It refers to a radio story that is so compelling that a person literally cannot get out of the car EVEN when the engine's off and the car is parked safely in the driveway until the story is completed, and life resumes. Of course, NPR came up with the term to refer to stories that THEY produce, heard on NPR affiliates all over the country. I don't know about most people, but I can certainly remember many times being stopped in my tracks in just that way.
But what follows isn't really that kind of story. It's a story that takes place IN the driveways at the end of our dead end street.
We had a wedding in the family last month. In spite of hot temperatures and forest fires close enough to clog the sky with sun-dimming smoke, we were all able to make the long trip to southern California for the big event. As these things go, it wasn't that flashy but it was within everyone's means and just about all the family came. A success, for sure.
But our story takes place a week or so later, when the newlyweds arrived back here to take up the rest of youngest daughter's numerous things, along with all the wedding gifts, put it all in a truck, take the new family's car behind on a car carrier (due to lack of a second driver) and head north to their new home. They arrived on time, the truck was available, but the carrier was late several days because, they were told, the closed highway to the east (fires again) kept them from getting the carrier delivered here. Make sense?
Came the day the carrier finally became available, about a week ago. Groom brings it to our place, carrier attached. Problem. The truck was plenty large enough, but no one was quite ready to tackle the task of turning the whole thing around on our lightly traveled but DEAD END street.
They tried, but this is not something people not in the trucking business do very often, and they were unable to get the truck pointed the other way. I was recruited to help, and I shouted directions while groom was behind the wheel. That MIGHT have worked, but daughter was also advising groom, and seemed to be giving out the opposite advice that I was. This put a little...stress on the groom. He gave up for awhile, and I even caught him on the phone trying to get someone from the truck rental agency out to get the thing turned. The rental store, having been paid, wanted nothing more to do with the matter, and told him to do his backing up in a "counter-intuitive way", as if that advice could get the job done.
Then a miracle happened. Daughter realized that her skills, though broad and considerable, probably did not include the little arcane steering adjustments that would be required, and she stepped modestly away, leaving the job to the MEN in her life. I went behind the wheel and had groom shout advice while I developed a new skill set based on a complex combination of skills that was half see, half feel. It didn't hurt that the neighbors were gone, and that their huge driveway was mostly unoccupied. I called on the Force to guide my shaking hands until, finally, we wrestled the truck and carrier into submission and pointed the unit to parts unknown.
OK. I'll admit that a million people or so learn to do the same thing each year. It wasn't like parting the Red Sea. Still, the older you get, the more thrilled you are with just keeping up, and showing you're not yet all used up - not just yet, anyway.


Blogger Herman Jara Droguett said...

That was a great story, Dad. "Wrestle the truck into submission," ha ha ha. Anyway, things are going great here in EspaƱa; send me your home address and I'll send you a postcard.


12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From a trucker's daughters standpoint--that was good humor! Good story.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having seen your driveway and therefore acquainted with the "scene of the crime," I was able to get a pretty good idea of what was going on. Brilliant description of the situation...and an understanding, merciful look at the main characters.


5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

aweseome story of an everyday event. Sometimes its not the fantastic that make a story great, but just drawing someone in with a problem we've all faced. Good story and appreciate the humility.


8:54 AM  

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