I was a bit crazy in my youth. Maybe more than a bit. Maybe a lot. Especially when it came to driving. I wrecked three cars and should have died at least once, but God had some other reason to keep me alive, and here I am to tell about it. I also was not serving God despite being raised in church, so this is not going to sound anything like my typical posts, at least not at first.
I purchased my first car from my Mom. It was a 1965 brown Ford Fairlane. The year was 1969 so it was a fairly new car. I bought it for a buck. Quite a bargain, right? It was far from a perfect car though. You see, I was driving through a shopping mall parking lot on a cold winter night. There were slick spots everywhere. I came to one of those cross aisles and a car came up from my left. I put the brakes on, but was on a slab of ice and T-boned the car. Granted, I was only going about 10 MPH, but the front end was damaged pretty good. A new fender and radiator was in the works. My mom collected the insurance and got a new car. I got the Fairlane for a buck and fixed it up. Not a bad deal.
I drove that Fairlane for several years, drunken rides, high rides, sometimes pretty blind rides. We went to concerts and came home drunk, hopped bars all night long and were not at all sober. Drove to the Cape, to the mountains, to the Canadian border. We would drive to New York on Sundays to get liquor because they didn’t sell it in Mass on Sundays. I don’t know if I ever really drove sober. I know, that’s a bad thing. But it was a different era and there was not as much fanfare over drunk driving back then. I remember once driving home from a day on the cape where we had driven to P-Town, drank beer all the way there and all the way back. We got in the middle of a traffic jam in Plymouth and the cops were right there in the middle of it. We had the floor of the back seat filled with beer cans and one of us passed out in the seat. Nothing happened, but we were worried.
I finally traded the Fairlane off for a Triumph Spitfire. This white car with a convertible black top was my dream car. Fast, maneuverable and good looking. This was the ultimate party car. We drove it everywhere in new England, flying down the curvy roads at 60 or 70 MPH, weaving in and out of traffic and just not caring a bit. I’m not sure if I had a death wish or not, but people would think so because of my driving. The times I remember most fondly are when we would have about 8 of us in the car. We folded the front seats all the way down and sat semi-circle in the car, passing beers and joints all day as we drove through the White and Green mountains viewing the most beautiful Fall scenery in the world.
One time we were driving at night looking for a friend of mine who was high and tripping out. We were flying around the countryside when a cop pulled us over. We had definitely been drinking. He came up to the window and asked what the hurry was. I told him of my friend and that I was pretty sure we could find him, but we needed to do it soon or he could fly out of control. The cop actually let us go! We did find our friend and all turned out OK.
Another time we set our sights on a vacation to the Blue Ridge Mountains. We had our stash in hand, a cooler full of beer and cash to boot. We set out in the evening only to get 90 miles down the road and have the head gasket blow out of the car. It was late at night and no one was around. We limped back home, putting water in the motor several times before we arrived at my house round noon the next day. When my mom came home from work, we were sitting on a sofa in the basement, oblivious to the world. She asked what happened to our trip, and we just groaned and said the car broke.
Yes, I had plenty of adventures and misadventures with cars in my youth, but one stands out from them all to this day. As I said before, we were speed demons in that little Triumph Spitfire. We would dodge in and out of traffic going 10 to 20 MPH over the speed limit all the time. I hated it when someone passed me. Of course, the semi drivers hated my little car whizzing up from behind them and then ducking back in. One day as we cruised down the 3 lane Massachusetts Turnpike, I was on just such a mission. I wove around several semi-trucks and was just cruising fine. I came up behind on in the right lane and screeched out from behind him to pass, only to find another semi was in the middle lane up ahead. As I went to veer into the far left hand lane, another semi came up fast behind me, boxing me in on three sides. I tried to pull out, but a fourth one came up behind, and we proceeded to go 60 MPH for about 5 miles. I was out of my mind, as was my friend. We were boxed in with no place to go. These big rigs could crush my little car without getting a dent. I seriously thought about creeping under one of them on my side, but the car was a little too tall for that. That was the most harrowing 5 minutes I ever spent in my car.
Finally the semi behind us slowed down and the one in front pulled ahead so we could get out. They all blasted their horns as we drove off up the road ahead of them. I got the message loud and clear. They were in charge of the road, not me. They had mu number anytime they wanted to, and I better remember. My days of weaving in and out of semi-trucks was over. I respected them from then on.
There are times in our lives when we are going along without a care in the world. We’re just having fun and enjoying this gift of life that God gave us. We are not overzealous, but we are good Christians doing what God has asked us to do. The road seems clear ahead and we just keep going forward. Then someone comes along and says something that offends us. We are taken aback by that, and are not really sure what to do. The good book says we should go to them and clear it up, but that seems a bit too much for this small offense. It will just go away.
This offense festers in our mind until we have to talk to a friend about it. Well, now our friend is upset about it too! They want to get back at the offender but instead they start to say bad things about them to other people. Before we know it we are surrounded by negativity toward this person, and it was all such a small thing when it started, like that first semi I passed. No big deal. It’s just one truck. But then another and another got involved, and before I knew it I was boxed in. Before we know it I was boxed in with guilt that this whole thing has gotten out of control
Now you have to do something. You feel bitterness start to arise within you, and know it must not fester. That’s the worst thing that can happen. Finally you go to the person who originally offended you and you open up to them. You tell them what happened and you apologize profusely, asking their forgiveness. You back track to everyone else and let them know the truth. This is a hard lesson, like being encircled with big rigs was for me, but you learn it well. Take care of offenses at the outset. It will pay great rewards and relieve you from a lot of regret down the road.
I have never again driven like that. I learned my lesson well. And I hope that I never let offenses go too long without taking care of them. I never want to be boxed in again!