Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Big Red and Me: A Hate Story

Yesterday's introduction to Big Red, the pick-up, reminded me of a tale of shame that I thought you might all find amusing. Because I know you like to hear about when I make an ass out of myself, right?

One day in late winter, when the sheep were still eating hay, A. asked me to take Big Red for the day so I could stop at the feed store to pick up more hay. I HATE driving Big Red. I avoid it at all costs. I never really learned to drive a standard until I drove this truck, and I've still only driven it maybe a dozen times. We don't have a good history, Big Red and I. But the sheep needed hay, and A. had to go to work, so I reluctantly agreed.

I reversed in the driveway, got down to the road, pulled out into traffic, and made my merry way towards the feed store, all with no trouble. I was feeling pretty cocky, thinking what a bad-ass I was, driving around in this big truck, shifting gears and listening to country music like a real redneck chick. Snort.

I decided to stop at our mechanic's on the way to the feed store, to see if he could fix the driver's side door so it opened. So I pulled into his parking lot, set the parking brake, and went inside. He fixed the door quickly, and then I got back in the truck, trying to hurry because the mechanic was waiting for me to move the truck so he could pull in another car. I released the parking brake, put the truck in gear, pushed in the clutch, then applied the gas and started easing up on the clutch. And the truck started bucking like a damned saddle bronc. Then it died. This happened four times. The mechanic was sitting there, 20 feet from me, watching this fiasco. And I was getting more and more flustered, which wasn't helping matters.

Eventually, I jerked my way out of the parking lot and managed to get to the feed store. There they told me to bring the truck around to the loading bays on one side, which required reversing and angling the truck in correctly. And once again, we repeat the shameful bucking, the stalling, the whispered cussing on my part, and the open amusement of the feed store owner as he watched this stupid woman try to maneuver a truck that is clearly too much for her. I finally managed to get to the bays, only to have the guy tell me, oh sorry, you'll have to go around the other side, there aren't enough bales here. And I'm thinking, "You have GOT to be kidding me, jackass." But no.

More reversing, more angling, then pulling in between a large horse trailer and a brand-new truck, more stalling and not-quite-hidden amusement at my expense. They loaded the goddamned bales of hay that I had been sent on this hellish errand to fetch. And then. Oh, and then. I had to back out of this area, boxed in by trucks and trailers, with not one, not two, but THREE people standing there watching me. I managed, with more of my trademark bucking and stalling, but I overdid the gas and very nearly took out the sign in the front of the store. Then I drove away while all of them laughed. Openly.

And hey, have I mentioned that the truck bed was full of scrap metal? And the tailgate was broken and couldn't be put up? Yes. The feed store guy had to shove the bales of hay behind the metal, right on the edge of the lowered tailgate. Because you know what would make this whole thing MORE FUN? Worrying about flying hay bales. JESUS CHRIST.

Next I had to go to a friend's house, who also got the great entertainment of watching me try to back up out of his driveway, jerking and stalling and looking, as I had for the previous half-hour, like a complete fool. This time I missed nailing a stop sign by about a foot AND almost landing in the ditch. GO ME.

AND THEN I had to stop in the village, where I stalled in the middle of the road trying to get out of my parking space. Three times.

By the time I got home, I was shaking and swearing, at myself, at the truck, at the sheep, at A. for making me drive this piece of shit. And at all the men that day who had watched me make a complete moron of myself and thought it was funny. I definitely re-enforced some gender stereotypes. I called A. at work to tell him exactly what kind of nightmare he had forced upon me. He laughed at me, too. But at least he apologized for making me do it.

The next day, he came home from work and told me the truck was still not driving right. He asked if I had put the parking brake on the previous day. And I said of course, isn't that how you keep a standard from rolling? Well, he replied, I forgot to tell you (italics mine) that the brake doesn't disengage properly on the truck. So the parking brake was partially engaged the whole time after the mechanic stop.

I felt vindicated, relieved that it wasn't all my fault for being such a complete idiot with a stick shift. But it took me a long time to forgive him. And I haven't driven Big Red since.


Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother said...

And how long did it take A. to go around and find everyone who saw you driving that day and explain what had happened? 'Cause if that had been me, I'd have used him to chock the wheels until I had signed affidavits from each one of them that they knew the real story.

Actually, I'd have known something was wrong, because I do know how to drive a stick. But I'm a man, so I was born with that knowledge. Or rather, I was born with an unshakable belief that if I can't work a machine, the machine must be broken. Surely you've noticed this?

SaraPMcC said...

At least you know how to drive a standard (sort of).

Tina Post said...

See, this is fundamentally why you're a better person than I am. I would have had all the same flustering and swearing (G.D.M.F. would have been my muttered string of choice). But then I would NEVER DRIVE THE TRUCK AGAIN. I don't know if you know this yet or not, but there's a streak of stubbornness to back that up, too.

Have Mark and I tell you the story of the Second Battle of Wounded Knee fight someday. It's a good one.

Anonymous said...

Drew Kime

Your unshakable belief, which I share with regards to myself is reflected in the electronics industry with two phrases.

If it works it is out of date.

If it needs an instruction manual it is broken.

MsPicketToYou said...

i am totally with drew kime on this one. on all accounts.

MsPicketToYou said...

ps: something for you on postpicketfence

Anna said...

I grew up on a farm and never learned how to drive a standard very well. Once when I was 16, Mom "let" me drive her Kia into town and then proceeded to yell and scream at me when I the car kept dying and rolling backward at a stop sign. Hence why 1) I hate driving with my mom in the car, even if it's an automatic, 2)Why I definitely never drive a standard with my mom in the car. What's funny though is that I can drive a standard just fine without her in the car!