Rant and Rave

Dear Old Dad: A Holy Terror behind the Wheel

Allen L. Powell sent the following letter

Last June my father, God rest his soul, started driving that big Oldsmobile in the sky...i.e., he died. He died at the ripe old age of 96, and continued to drive until he was 95. He could see out of only one eye and hear out of one ear. And, while I bought him a hearing aid, he seldom really turned it on.

Well, he continued to pass the written driving tests, and every four years started to study the manual (which he hid under his pillow, perhaps to learn through osmosis during his comatose times) at least a year in advance of the big day. The great state of Nebraska kept renewing his license, which he proudly showed at every senior citizens' event to *prove* that he indeed was over 65.

He hated busy streets! So, in order to avoid streets, traffic lights and all that other stuff, he would careen through the Wal-Mart (you know Wal-Mart and Kmart, don't you?) parking lot, swerving around posts and people to get to the senior citizens' Friday night dances, where he would play the saxophone. His car finally threw a rod and was towed to the rear of his house, where it lay in state for nearly two years.

Finally I bought him a car--about an '87 Chevy. I will admit, it was not the best car. It had a distinct ticking in the engine when it idled. However, when I brought it home for Dad, I knew that he wouldn't have his hearing aid turned up, and he commented how quiet it ran. Not being sure which would expire first (the car, him or his driver's license) and hoping that surely Nebraska wouldn't renew his license, I thought that it was good enough.

Dad called me at work for three weeks to get me to visit him so he could show me how terrible this car was. This time, he hit the main street in town...no, I mean literally hit it. At 5:00 p.m. on a weekday, he drove up over the curb in the small town of South Sioux City, Nebraska, swerving over the sidewalk just to reenact what had occurred to him previously. Dad was always a "lefty" braker. His right foot was always on the accelerator, left on the brake. But, because he could never actually hear the engine, he had the accelerator about halfway to the floor while pressing the brake with all his might with his left foot. It was like taking off in a jet using a too-short runway. Needless to say, after those few but harrowing moments, I drove back to his house for him. Shortly thereafter, the car threw a rod, and was also laid in state behind the garage until hauled off to the junkyard.

Dad was a great guy but a holy terror behind the wheel!

Love your show,


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