The Truck, the Tree, and the Trooper

Sometimes breaks end up needing breaks. Maybe brakes as well! You see, the world made more sense whenever I drove my beautifully rusted and scratched 1987 Chevy pickup truck. I was driving home thinking nice thoughts about supper, my family, and the world we lived in. It never occurred to me to have negative thoughts about anything. But, that was before I met the tree.

The tree was taking a walk in the middle of the road. Trees are not supposed to do that. Trees are supposed to stay off the road. When I saw the tree I knew that I was going to hit it. I slammed the brakes. I must confess that only the front brakes worked—kind of. Then, with white knuckles, I gripped the steering wheel. I tried to ease to the side as much as possible and closed my eyes. I waited. But I did not have to wait too long. The crash was deafening as the tree matched perfectly with the windshield. That was the fastest I stopped since the back brakes gave out back in the late nineties.

Suddenly I realized how quiet it was. I slowly opened my eyes and saw I was wearing the windshield. I put it in reverse, eased the gas pedal down, and slowly backed away from the tree.

Another motorist came from the other direction and stopped. He called the state highway patrol. Then we waited. They did not show up for a long time, and since I was almost to the house I decided to carefully drive home.

After I got home the state trooper stopped outside the house. I went out and told him that I was the person who had an affair with a tree. He went down to the bottom of the hill to look at the scene of my troubles and then came back.

He shone his big flashlight at the truck and exclaimed, “You really did hit it, didn’t you!”

“Yep, sure did!” I exclaimed proudly.

“I have to give you a ticket,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone. The trooper wanted to cite me for hitting the tree! I disagreed with him and was not bashful in telling him. He acted like I was hunting trees out of tree hunting season. I do not hunt; especially not trees. But what do you do when the tree steps right out into the middle of the road?

“Do you mean to tell me,” I asked the trooper, “that if a tree falls out of the sky and you hit it, you get cited?”

“Did the tree hit you or did you hit the tree?” he asked. “You may not hit anything in front of you,” he intoned.

“Well sir, if I would have only known, I would have turned around and backed into it.”

I soon saw I needed to do a little more explaining, and I knew he really wanted to know. “All I know is that I was driving merrily down the road thinking happy thoughts when suddenly this tree is standing in the middle of the road. I slammed the brakes, held on to the steering wheel for dear life, and closed my eyes.” That was the exact truth. I looked at the trooper who was thinking deep thoughts.

How could I explain to the trooper the pain I felt to see my pickup truck get so bruised. It was a great pickup. Sure, the back brakes, the right rear turning signal, and the left front turning signal did not work. But that was minor. The lights were bright enough to drive during the day, or at night if you did not go over 30 miles per hour. The power steering fluid only slowly leaked out. I only had to add fluid every few days. The springs and the frame were only broken some. The bed might have jumped up and down a little but it had never fallen off. The truck did not shake too badly unless you drove over or under 50 miles per hour. There were other minor things wrong with it–but it was my truck. And, I loved my truck. It fit like an old, worn pair of trousers. I was against trees that took walks on roads. It was not good for trucks, or the men who drove them.

How was I to know that the tree would choose to blow across the road? I am not God. I do not know these things. Now, this trooper wanted to give me a ticket for hitting the tree. That excited me a little. After I explained the event as effectively as my imagination allowed, the trooper looked at me (I was hoping he liked what he saw).

Finally he spoke, “Okay, I am not going to cite you.” (He liked what he saw.)

But my poor pickup! It got all bruised up. It was simply humiliating. Even though I forgave the tree for bruising my truck and making me wear a new coat of glass, I was still emotionally stricken. I did get even with the tree. It was cut into little pieces.

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