Alone in my metallic-brown Chrysler Newport, I enjoyed the lonely stretches of highway. My singing, file that under “making a joyful noise unto the Lord,” didn’t bother anyone, regardless of the pitch. Since I knew all of the words to every song by heart, the cassettes never distracted me from the road. Good thing, too, or what happened on this one lonely stretch of highway could have been so much worse.
Up ahead I noticed a pick-up truck, with an empty horse trailer hitched to his rig. He pulled out onto the highway. The bouncing trailer gave clear indication nothing rode inside. I tapped the brake to release the cruise control and eased off the accelerator a bit. I’d resume the handy feature once the pick-up had reached cruising speed.
I noted the three-quarter door at the back of the trailer and wanted to be sure I kept my car far enough behind to miss anything that might come flying out that open space. Not every rancher took care to secure items tossed into an empty trailer.
The cassette had finished playing and I’d turned my thoughts to reviewing the latest report from Dr. Roberts*, so I really hadn’t noticed the truck slowing a bit. His brake lights never came on, which would have taken me away from my own reflecting. Still far enough behind to avoid any accident if he stopped quickly, I chose to leave the cruise control engaged and just see if he’d speed up.
Would have been a good plan had the truck not lurched and the trailer hit a sizeable bump in the pavement. Out through that open space came a large flying object. Smack! Bounce and thud. I flipped the cruise control off again.
I decreased speed enough to see that a large wooden block sat atop my car’s hood. The windshield cracked but the pieces stayed in place. I didn’t take a single second to think it through; I shoved my right foot down on that accelerator and zoomed after that rancher.
He’d let that large block of wood bounce around in there, and I wasn’t about to have my insurance company pay for replacing that expensive windshield. Nosirree, he wasn’t going to get away from me, if I could help it.
The heavy block of wood rode the hood of my car without budging an inch as I sped along the highway. How could he not know I was trying to catch up with him? I honked, flashed my lights, and of course, shouted as loud as I could for him to pull over.
The driver might have noticed his block of wood sitting atop my hood, if he looked in his mirrors at all, but he gave no indication that he intended to stop. In fact, just the opposite occurred. Though he had a trailer hitched to his pick-up, his rig out-powered mine and he left me in his highway dust.
Finally, I came to my senses. Dr. Roberts had told me the brain-thing remained stable, but this little burst of anger threatened to put me back in the hospital. I’d surely flip the car on the next sharp curve, if I didn’t knock it off. I slowed to a legal speed for the county highway. There’d be no city or hamlet for a hundred miles, so no one to whom I could report the incident. Sadly, I knew that the repair would be on my own insurance.
Instead of allowing my anger to burn any hotter, I chose to douse those flames in the best possible way. “Thank you, God, for Your protection. That block of wood could so easily have crashed right through that glass and I’d have been a goner for sure. Thank you, too, for stopping my out-of-control speed. I’m sorry for my anger against that guy. Maybe he really didn’t see what his block of wood had done. Thank you for keeping the broken pieces of glass in place so I can drive home to get it fixed. Yes, I’m sorry that it happened at all, but thank you so much, Lord, for protecting me from what certainly could have been much worse.”
I put the music back on and returned to singing my way back home. It really served to calm me down.
“So, this big block is what did the damage to your windshield, huh?” said the man at the garage in town. “I can lift that out of your trunk and get rid of it, if you’d like. Can’t see you’d have much use for the old thing.”
“Yes, I’d appreciate that, Frank*. I thought I’d show the sheriff or someone from the insurance company, but I didn’t run into another town until I got home, so you’re right; I have no use for it.”
Frank hoisted the splintery block up and out of the trunk, adding his consolation. “I can have a new windshield here by tomorrow afternoon. I’ll get it put in right away. Come on in day after tomorrow and she’ll be right as rain.”
“Do I pay you and then get the insurance company to reimburse me, or do they pay you directly like the doctor’s office? This is my first experience with such things.”
“I’ll check with them. Let’s just get the windshield replaced and then worry about that, okay?”
Two days later, I returned to the garage for my car. Frank had replaced the broken windshield.
“Look here,” the mechanic said, pointing to the top of the windshield. “Right here in the middle where she sits in the metal frame.”
“Do you mean that dented kind of triangle?” I said, leaning over the car and pointing.
“That’s it. The corner of that big block hit right there. That’s why you see the triangular-shaped dent in the metal. Let me just tell you, it’s impossible to get a perfect seal on the windshield at that point.”
“Is that a bad thing? I mean, Frank, it looks great to me. Is it a cosmetic thing or something I need to worry about?”
“Oh, it isn’t likely to be something anyone’ll notice, but it’s gonna give you a lot of trouble in this climate. The moisture’ll get inside there and you’ll have mold that won’t quit inside your vehicle. We tried but we just can’t get the thing smoothed out any better than that.”
“Well, what can I do about it? The winter’s just beginning. I still need to drive over for the doctor to check my brain every so often, and I don’t have a garage in which to store the car during those wicked snow storms of Eastern Montana.”
“Well, if it was me, I’d sell the thing before the mold sets in. You could swop it out at a car dealers and he can move the car to another climate where it won’t matter to have that lack of a perfect seal. Get you a new car, or at least, a different used car. That’s my recommendation.”
Not a good report from Frank, but hey, the weather was still okay so no need to hurry on replacing it. I’d just let it go until my next trip back to the doctor. Dad had to work that weekend, but maybe Mom’d go with me to look at cars.
I’d figured Mom and I would just go to lunch in the city, look at a couple of used car lots for possible replacements at a later date, and just plain make a fun day together out of my car woes. No need to hurry into anything, right?
I’d soon learn Mom’s action plan didn’t consider checking out the possibilities for a later date, as well as her taste in cars. I’d always seen my mother as conservative, contemplative where big decisions were involved, but window-shopping for cars with Mom turned out to be far from what I’d expected.