Last week I was talking with some teachers from another school in my district about the friendliness of our various school office staff. During our discussion, I remembered this particular incident that is funny now, but wasn’t at the time.
In the early 90s, my dad bought a brand new Ford truck. It was huge, and it was his baby.
This truck was purchased for two things – to pull my parents’ fifth-wheel camping and to pull the horse trailer to horseshows. It was quite a step up from his previous truck as this new one had a full backseat which sat 3 and 2 additional wheels.
For some reason, once I turned 16, I wanted to drive this truck. To this day, I don’t know why. The only thing I can think of was that he always told me there was no way in hell I would ever drive it. So maybe that made me want to.
After moving back to California from the East Coast and starting my job as a teacher I lived at home for about a year and a half. My dad was retired by that time and his truck was his primary vehicle. However, it was big and if he had to go anywhere far it guzzled way too much gas. My dad would usually take my mom’s car on those occasions. On one such occasion during my second year of teaching however, my mom needed her car. I, too, drove a smaller car so he had two choices. One was to drive the giant truck out of town and pay a lot of money for gas while the other was to switch cars with me and let me drive the truck to work, which was only about 2 miles from our house. He reluctantly chose the second option.
Even as an adult with a new career, I was giddy being allowed to drive the giant truck. My dad made we drive with him the night before so he could be sure I knew how to turn and park such a large vehicle. I passed, and we switched keys.
The next morning I grabbed my lunch and teacher bag and skipped out to the truck, excited to be driving it on my own for the first time. The drive to school was a pretty straight shot – only one left turn and one right turn into the school driveway. Which was no problem.
Once into the driveway however, there was a right turn into our parking lot. Our parking lot had a security gate with a key pad on a large metal pedestal. In order to get to the key pad, I pulled up real close to it. Leaning out the window the code was punched in and the gate opened. I rolled up my window and pulled into the parking lot.
Now, please notice the wheel wells on this truck. Seeing that it was a dually (two back wheels on each side) the wheel wells stuck out further than any other part of the truck. Please keep that in mind as you read the rest of the story.
So, as I pulled into the parking lot the wheel wells got a little too close to the key pad pedestal. By the time I got in the parking lot, there was a giant hole ripped into the wheel well and the pedestal had been knocked over. In my defense, with the window rolled up, I had no idea that any of this was happening until it was all said and done, completely inside the parking lot.
I realized what happened when I noticed the cars lined up on the other side of the security gate. They were not able to get the arm to lift since the key pad was torn out of the ground. Mortified, I quickly parked. I was so scared to get out and look at the damage I had done to the truck. Yah, it was a giant jagged hole across the entire wheel well.
I apologized to the other cars as I ran through the parking lot to the school office to tell them what happened. The friendliness of the office staff at my school at the time was much to be desired. On most days they just ignored the teachers and parents waiting to ask a question to finish their own personal discussions. On this particular morning, they were having a very important conversation about massages. I waited for a moment, bouncing up and down trying to quietly get their attention. That didn’t work so I tapped my hand on the counter and blurted out, “Excuse me! I’m sorry to interrupt but I just crashed through the parking lot gate and no one can get in!” They looked at me with annoyance that I was interrupting their massage conversation. “The gate is broken?” one of them asked. “Yah! I broke it, no one can get in.” Once they realized I wasn’t just bothering them with trivial things like needing new pencils, they got on the walkie-talkie and sent the custodian out to open the gate.
Anyways, that was one of the longest days of my life. Every time I thought of the hole in my dad’s truck, I got sick to my stomach. I drove home after school and waited for my parents to get home. My mom arrived first. She didn’t believe me when I told her. When I walked her out to show her she said, “Oh no.”
My dad arrived home later. I nervously said, “Um, Dad, I got in a little accident with your truck today.” He chuckled and said, “Yah right.” He too didn’t believe me until I took him out to see it. When he saw the hole he looked like he was going to throw up. He didn’t though. He actually handled it MUCH better than I thought he would.
After a couple weeks of dealing with insurance and the harassment by my dad’s friends, the hole was fixed and it was as good as new. After the incident though, I never asked to drive the truck again.
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