The look of shock on the children’s faces showed that they had never in their young lives seen anything like this. Of course, not too many people had. I mean, it’s not often that you’re rolling along in the back of your parent’s station wagon, breaking up the monotony of a long winter drive with an intense game of Slug Bug, when something like this catches your eye.
The kids, a brother and sister around the ages of six and eight, gaped in amazement as they peered out the side window of the family Buick. Mom, oblivious, carried on her in-depth monologue about the perfect cranberry relish, while Dad, equally oblivious, hummed and nodded in vacant agreement, all the while keeping his hands in the perfect 10 o’clock – 2 o’clock position, intently concentrating on the icy road ahead.
It was November. Better yet, November in Montana. The “Chains Required” sign posted on this stretch of highway had probably been up for a good couple of weeks. Of course, those signs only apply to those who actually adhere to such requirements. Apparently, it did not apply to the two twenty year-olds cruising alongside the family Buick. Sure, if they had the money to buy or rent chains they would have done the sensible thing. But a blown water pump in Minnesota had set them back so far that they were down to counting change at gas stations. If they were going to make it to Washington state by Thanksgiving, and back home to California by Christmas, well… Chains were a luxury they’d just have to do without. Besides… With such a flat, straight stretch of highway under their tires, chains didn’t really seem as “necessary” as the Montana Highway Department had deemed. Not necessary, that is, until this particular stretch of I-90 sloped into a slight down grade. That’s when the Pinto started to drift. Just a bit at first, but this was becoming an increasingly full-on slide. At about the point where the Pinto was getting close to perpendicular to the properly equipped Buick, the children shifted their attention to the two young men staring nearly straight at them. The kids gasped! The dudes high-fived. As the Pinto, through luck, fate or hand of God, finally straightened out, the driver casually dialed the volume knob to the right. Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” blared. The Pinto ventured on.
The story above is true. How do I know? I was there. I was the “dude” behind the wheel of that slip slidin’ Pinto. In fact, not only did this event actually take place, it’s turned out to be quite metaphoric. Looking back, I’ve always felt my whole life has gone the way of that early 80’s road trip I took with my best buddy. Yeah… Once in a while things might get a little out of control, but everything straightens out in the end.