Friday, August 17, 2007

Endangered Bales

The other day at Ten Thousand Villages, I worked with a 15 year old girl who is just starting driver’s ed classes. Several people were offering her advice. It got a little bit funny after a while. I told her that it would have been quite intimidating for me to have had to learn to drive in a city. It reminded me of my first driving experience.

I grew up driving tractors and old pick up trucks on various farms (my grandparents’ farm, my uncle’s farm, my parents’ farm). My earliest memory of driving is in a hay meadow. I must have only been about five or six years old. I was a scrawny kid and could not have weighed more that thirty-five or forty pounds at the time. My grandfather had an old ’49 or ’50 model pick up. The hay had been baled into square bales that probably weighed about fifty pounds each. Someone had to drive the truck between the bales and get near enough to them so that they could be thrown into the back of the truck without having to carry them more that a few feet. This meant that someone had to be constantly getting in and out of the truck. The whole family was working that day so that meant that my brother, a toddler, and I were taken to the meadow with our parents. We were in the truck. One of the adults got the idea that I could drive the truck if they put it in granny gear and let me stand on the floor and look between the top of the huge steering wheel and the dash. I was supposed to depress the clutch when they yelled “stop”.

So off I went at about five miles an hour. “STOP”. I put my foot on the clutch and mashed down as hard as I could. The truck showed no sign of stopping so I put the other foot on the clutch as well, stomping with all my might. Surely that bale of hay in front of me would stop this thing. No, it ran over the bale of hay. By that time my father or grandfather caught up with the run away auto and jumped in to save the day, not to mention all the rest of those hay bales.

If I could add a sound track to this post, it would be something from from one of those great Austin bands Haybale or Stop the Truck.

Photo of bales from:

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