FRIDAY: The Trip to Texas


Copyright is held by the author.

FOR SEVERAL years since retirement, I have travelled primarily by cruise ship to various ports in the Mediterranean as well as to Alaska, Hawaii and the East Coast of Canada and the United States. Once, I wanted to see the town of Waco, Texas, because of a home improvement show on television where they take a cheap old house and transform it into a modern beautiful place. So I decided that there was no reason why I could not drive from my home in the small town of Simcoe in southwest Ontario through Detroit and into the heart of America.

Despite arthritis in my knees and hips, with the use of a cane, I was able to walk a fair distance and driving a car was no problem. My old car was in good mechanical order and had an overhaul at the garage before I, armed with maps, headed out. The drive south was pleasant and when I began to feel tired, I stopped for a break and always checked into a hotel when it was close to dinner time.

Before I knew it, I had arrived in the outskirts of Waco. I was stopped at a red light, waiting to make a left turn. I was glancing down at the map on the seat beside me, when suddenly my foot slipped off the brake and my car began to roll forward and gently bumped into the BMW in front of me.

“Oh bloody hell,” I thought, “why did I ever think that at my age and all alone, I could manage to drive from Simcoe to Texas without incident?” I quickly put my car into park and reaching for my cane that sat propped up again the passenger seat, I lifted it up and over the dashboard, so I could use it to ease myself out of the car door. As I struggled to get onto my feet, I caught the glint of something shiny and looked at the other driver who had jumped out of his car and was standing in a stance that you see on a TV cop show — feet spread shoulder width apart, arms stretched straight out, hands together — and the shiny thing was a pistol.

Here was this old coot of a man, with wild white hair, aiming a pistol at me. Well, actually he was trying to aim at me, but with the way he was shaking, he looked like he had an advanced case of Parkinson’s. Why the hell was he driving to begin with?” I thought.

Without being told, I put my hands in the air, but of course, forgot to drop my cane, so it was two hands in the air along with the cane pointing straight up. Now I was shaking just like him but my shaking was from my balance problems. What a pair we made!

“I am so sorry that I hit your car,” I said, “my foot slipped off the brake pedal.”

He looked at my upraised cane and the obvious swaying, and he lowered his gun. “I’m sorry Ma’am. When I saw you lift your can, I thought it was a rifle.”

“A rifle!” I exclaimed, “No, I am Canadian.”

“Well, that explains it,” the old man replied while looking at his bumper. “Looks like the bump didn’t do any damage, Ma’am, so I think we should just call it a day.”

My trip back to Canada took only 30 hours driving straight through.

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  1. Besides the stereotyping in this story, I didn’t buy into the part about making the trip back in 30-straight hours……alone.

  2. Waco is an Anglicized form of the Spanish word, “Hueco,” which mean “hole”. An accurate description of Waco, Tx and absolutely no reason to visit the place. I don’t know if this story is fiction, non-fiction or a combination, but somehow you telegraphed the climax, as Jan says, by stereotyping the antagonist. The story left me wondering whether to believe you or not.

  3. Nice, simple story. I liked the 30-straight hours as a punchline, underscoring the driver’s sense of vulnerability and of feeling grossly out of place. I had a long lunch time chat with a group on a job site in NYC about 15 years ago. I was the lone Canuck and they were grilling me about Canada. At one point, discussing gun ownership, I said something like, “…for example, most of you guys are probably packin’ right now.” I secretly believed that maybe one or two were “packing” (a word choice I later regretted; it was so obviously plucked from too many episodes of TV crime drama). They all nodded at once, looking at each other and shrugging their shoulders (“Yeah, so?”) and then stared at me with curiosity, one of them saying, “you’re not?” I can still relate that personal experience to the non-pistol-packin-mama with a cane and so it worked for me.

    Stereotyping comment is worth some thought. (Says the aging, white dude who no longer cares to wear a red ball cap.)

  4. This is fiction, but partially real life in that I was subjected to road rage in Mississauga, Ontario by a 30ish screaming man who demanded cash when there was no damage to his car. This tale was triggered (sorry for the pun) when I read that there are 600 Million guns in the USA. I am an old lady who walks with a cane but have never driven to the US.

  5. In storytelling, it doesn’t matter whether a story is based on a true incident. What matters is whether the story feels truthful, even if all the facts behind the story are lies.
    In his great novel, “The Things They Carried,” Tim O’Brien’s narrator reveals that all the stories he told were lies, but each story is soaked in truth.
    The reader decides, not the author, whether the world created, characters depicted, and dialog spoken feel true? If not, the story does not hold. The center collapses.

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