Not long after our family moved from the city into an old farmhouse, in the mid-’80s, my parents realized they needed a truck. Their budget being what it was and my father being extremely handy, they were quick to answer an ad for a fixer-upper that read: “Old truck. Runs! $60.”
When my grandpa caught a glimpse of my dad coming down the driveway in this $60 jalopy, he doubled over laughing. What did it look like? Let me put it this way: In my first-grade class, I did a crayon drawing of it. When my teacher commented on the orange polka dots, I piped up, “That’s the rust!” This truck was exactly what the ad said it was: an old vehicle that still ran. And that was the absolute best thing you could say about it.
But as I said, Dad had a way of fixing just about anything. Thanks to his ability and plenty of prayers, the old heap held together for a surprisingly long time. I have fond memories of riding in the bed, bumping along, being careful to avoid the particularly rusted-out places so I wouldn’t fall through.
Eventually, after decades of hard use, the old beast finally arrived at a point where even my frugal parents had to admit it wasn’t worth fixing anymore. They bought a newer truck, leaving our rusty old friend parked in the weeds alongside the barn for quite some time.
But a day came when even Dad said it was time to say goodbye. Still as frugal as ever, he didn’t like the idea of paying to have it towed, so he headed outside with his tools in hopes of getting it running. Big mistake.
He lifted the hood and leaned in for a good look, then immediately leaped back. A neatly coiled snake stared up at him from atop the air filter assembly. But despite his momentary shock, Dad was undeterred. He shooed the snake away and dug into the engine compartment. If only he’d taken the snake as a hint of what was to come.
To his credit, Dad did manage to get the truck started. Then he hopped in and drove off toward the junkyard. But before long, something fell smack into his lap from under the steering wheel. He says he nearly jumped out of his seat, even though at that point he didn’t know what it was.
But he suspected. Steeling himself, he glanced down, and sure enough, it was another snake! He flung the snake off onto the floor and started stomping. This compounded the problem, because my dad is big and strong enough to stomp a hole right through the rusted floor of a truck. Which is precisely what he did.
Fortunately, despite a gaping hole between his feet and a snake slithering who knows where in the truck cab beside him, Dad managed to pull the truck over. That’s when he found a whole pile of baby snakes wriggling around under the seat.
After strongly encouraging all reptiles to leave the truck and checking to make sure they were gone, Dad proceeded to do the only thing he could do: He got back in to finish the drive. You’d think after all that, he had earned an uneventful end to the trip, but no. Just short of reaching the junkyard, the old truck died, and died for good.
May it rest in peace.