Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Truck Ballet

Okay. Picture it in orange . . .

If one was raised on a ranch in Southern Alberta, one was driving by the time one could clearly see above the dashboard.
This involved getting physically taller.
Because Dad wouldn’t allow one to use the Sears catalogue for added height.
By the time I was 12, I was there.
Dad handed me the keys, took me through car control basics in a nearby empty field, and set me loose.
Oh, I wasn’t allowed on any roads.
And my driving was strictly limited to running errands to and from said fields.
But I was driving!
Oddly enough, in those early days, I never had any accidents.
Not one.
Those were reserved for after I received my driver’s license and had discovered the joys of driving on real roads.
Case in point:
I was driving a friend’s cool, orange, 1974 Ford truck.
Four-on-the-floor with a smooth clutch.
The steering was a bit dodgy. Armstrong, as we were fond of calling it.
But it was a sweet truck to drive.
We were heading to the track.
I should mention, here, that I used to help my friend with his uncle’s racehorses at the track.
It was . . . fun.
But that is another blog post.
Moving on . . .
It was time to feed and start the day’s training.
And, as is usually the custom in Alberta in February, the roads were icy.
Icy=slick.
We were coming to a curve.
Slowing was indicated.
Now I had been well-instructed by my brothers on the best way to begin.
By down-shifting.
I pressed the clutch.
Expertly shoved the gearshift into the next lower gear.
And let out the clutch.
All while driving over a sheet of black ice.
Oops.
The next few moments are a blur.
I do remember the sensation of spinning.
Because we were.
That old truck performed maneuvers that could have put it on center stage during a performance by the Royal Alberta Ballet.
Did you know a truck can pirouette?
Arabesque?
Sauté?
Well, it can.
And very gracefully, too.
Eons and multiple circles later, we finally came to a rest, parked neatly on the median.
Facing the wrong way.
We had, somehow, managed to miss three traffic signs, two trees and one astonished pedestrian.
With dog.
For a moment, we caught our breath and counted limbs.
Then I put the truck into gear and started forward.
Down off the median and onto the street.
The wrong way.
“In Canada, we drive on the right side,” my friend pointed out shakily.
Oh. Right.
I drove back onto the median and crossed over it to the other side of the street.
We made it to the track safely.
But, for some reason, my friend would never let me drive his truck again.
Even though I pointed out, rather intelligently I believe, that there couldn’t possibly be ice on the streets of Lethbridge in the middle of July.
Some people simply don’t forgive and forget.
Emphasis on forget.

19 comments:

  1. There is very little worse than the feeling of being totally out of control in a vehicle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me and complete helplessness don't get along well together.

      Delete
  2. The only thing worse than spinning around in your vehicle is to be completely stopped and seeing someone else spinning around... Toward you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gahhhh! And everything slows down and you watch them get closer and closer. AND THERE'S ABSOLUTELY NOTHING YOU CAN DO!!!
      Been there.

      Delete
  3. Spinning into a median has a way of making everything brighter, louder and more alive. The best part is being able to put the vehicle in gear and plow back onto the icy highway unscathed. I know. Been there--at least twice. Icy highways are SO unforgiving.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The absolute, complete relief to be able to continue under your own power. Yeah!

      Delete
  4. Oh Diane! You're not going to believe this, but my family had that truck . . . in orange. Crazy, but true. We lived a little (A LOT) further south, like NC, so no ice (or very little), but there was a memorable (and not in a good way) day when a game of ring-around-the-rosey/chase around that orange truck resulted in my brother having stitches in the bridge of his nose. Who knew Dad would choose the middle of the game to put the tailgate down?? I'm 5 years older than my brother and had more than a little bit of a mom complex. They wouldn't let me go back with him to get stitches, but I could hear him crying. And every time he cried, I cried harder. I'm positive that whole waiting room was eager to see us leave! Dad got rid of that truck soon after. My now-adult brain knows it had nothing to do with those stitches, but my child's brain couldn't be convinced. Then I felt guilty because Dad got rid of his truck. Wow. Hadn't thought about that in years. Your posts seem to do that to me :). Thanks for sharing and hope you don't mind my meander down memory lane in the middle of your comment section! Smiles -

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, your poor brother! Poor you! I really only want to bring back GOOD memories. Honest!

      Delete
  5. "Emphasis on forget." LOL! So true...so true.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Happened to me, too! Only I was driving a rental...a new one. I was visiting some friends in Ohio and the last I remember before shouting a few expletives, I said, "Watch this!"

    Well, although the huge parking lot looked to be smooth, I'd neglected to consider the concrete curbs, spun it around purposely about 3 times and promptly ripped the tire off of the dang thing.

    Ah, the fun days! Is that truck still around? They were made really strong back then, and I like the style.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ouch!
      I loved that truck and it sure could take a beating. But I don't know if it's still going, but it's alive in my memory!

      Delete
  7. LOL so funny...my mother was teaching me how to drive (she was driving because of the snow) a manual car and during a snow storm which wasn't that bad, instructed my sister and I on the proper procedure to slow down and just as she did she hit a patch of ice and the car swerved all over the place and we went into a ditch:) Everyone was fine but we have never let her live down that lesson in driving...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I love it! Absolutely priceless. Our family would have never let her forget either!

      Delete
  8. Trucks are so graceful. My car does no fancy tricks like that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bring it to Alberta. We can teach it some really fancy moves . . .

      Delete
  9. I too had an incident like this, but it was in a red VW bus. We ended up facing the wrong direction in the middle of a bridge with a semi-truck hauling fuel barreling towards us. The only thing that saved us was the bridge rail that slowed the truck down. The VW was totaled but my sister and I were unharmed. What an experience.

    Wonderful story, again, Diane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh. My. Goodness. What an experience! Obviously, you two were saved for greater things!

      Delete
  10. Wow Diane, that is scary... I never learned to drive... yet:)

    ReplyDelete

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