Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Piggy Back Ride

Cost? $105.00 per ride, half hour minimum wait in line.

Height and age are not requirements,

but you do have to have guts. It’s not a ride for the squeamish.

It starts when the tow-truck pulls up,

a big wheezing, squeaking, stinking behemoth of a vehicle.

The smell of diesel exhaust just about chokes you.

And then it’s time to enter the cab.

“Holy cow!” you think as you look at the stairway that is the step up into the cab. “I didn’t bring my mountain climbing gear!” The bottom step is more a platform than a step. There’s even a built in hand rail mounted by the door, as if they knew you’d need it.

You are no sooner up and in the cab, trying to catch your breath through the high altitude fog of diesel exhaust when the entire vehicle lurches forward. There’s no time to grab for a handhold. Motors whirr. You turn to look out the back window and see the bed of the truck moving backwards, sliding right off the truck. SLAM! It stops. More whirring and the bed tilts itself down to the ground. Whirring as it moves again. BANG! It hits the pavement in front of your car, and the entire vehicle lurches forward again.

The rattle of chains comes from somewhere behind your car. Motors whirr once more, and then, before your very eyes, you watch your car inch up onto the tilted bed of the truck.

SLAM! The truck lurches forward again. You don’t understand how the tires could possibly be gripping the ground, but it seems they are. One of these times though, those wheels may not hold. SLAM! Another stomach wrenching lurch, more motors whirring, and the tilted bed falls back horizontal onto the truck. SLAM! Gears start pulling the bed (with your car atop it) back up onto the truck. Wait! Who’s running the brake! The bed is going to SLAM right into the cab in just a second!


The bed comes to an abrupt halt only inches away from the back window of the cab … and makes the truck lurch forward once again. You’re really glad the truck isn’t parked on an incline or on a muddy surface.

You look behind you, and there it is, your faithful old friend, your car. It’s so close that it feels like it’s riding piggy back on your back. And somehow, that’s comforting. You’re relieved that you didn’t have to leave it there … stranded and alone.

The driver, a country boy who looks like he’d not hesitate to use the baseball bat that’s probably tucked beneath his seat climbs in behind the wheel. Of course, he’d be happy to drop you, the little old lady, off at her home on his way taking your car to the shop. He’s a sweet boy who learned good manners from his mamma.

He starts the truck up, reminding you that you don’t sit in a vehicle, you sit inside a living, breathing behemoth that could swallow you whole in one gulp. You can’t see how he’ll manage to maneuver such a massive thing around corners, but he does, with ease and grace. The truck pants, wheezes, and groans the entire way, as if it’s pouting and whining about carrying such a sissy load.

And then, you’re home. But gosh, the driveway sure looks empty without your faithful car in it. You say thanks and open the door to get out, and once again remember you didn’t bring your climbing gear. Must be 5,000 feet down to ground level. And It looks more like the sheer cliff of the northern face of Mount Highest of All.

But, you grit your teeth and start down, taking it slow and easy … down to camp 3, camp 2, camp 1, and finally … you reach base camp, on solid ground. You look up to see that the door you just climbed out of is now above your head, well above your head. You wonder if you will need a hydraulic arm to close it, but no, it closes without much difficulty.

And then, the truck drives off without you, your car still safely riding piggy back on it.

Your poor, poor car. You already feel naked without it. You watch as it disappears down the street, looking just like the injured patient atop the gurney, being rolled off to the operating room.

The ride is over. Hope you had fun. Come back soon.

You sigh resignedly and pray there’s enough money in your bank account to cover the repair bill.

You already know what the outcome will be. Once your car arrives at the shop, it will behave perfectly. The mechanic will spend all day long trying to figure out what’s wrong, and never be able to. In the end, you will pay the towing and “repair” bill to get your now cooperative car back. In the end, it will cost you $105.00

... $105.00 for nothing more than a piggy back ride for your car.