Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Astonishment (02/02/12)
TITLE: The Yellow Tie
By Dannie Hawley
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Bumping along the narrow eastbound highway in my treasured blue and white ’56 Chevy Bel-Aire, I tried to keep well-away from that broken white line separating me from westbound traffic. The Interstate was not yet functioning in our area. This was the only route across the fourth largest State in the US of A. Radio reception had been lost from the local stations long ago and even Eight-Track players had not yet been added to vehicles. It was just Bel-Aire Benny and me on that endless straight stretch. Heading home for the last couple of weeks of summer vacation, my mind began to drift.
“A real learning experience,” Pam’s oft used phrase echoed in my ears. At nineteen, I was beginning to classify my entire life with that one expression! Nothing ever worked out the way I thought it would. My college roommate and I had driven the 207 miles over to Spokane in search of summer jobs. Ha, what a joke! We spent three weeks on high backless stools, assembling latex gloves in folded paper wrappers to be sterilized. We cleaned motel rooms during the regular housekeepers’ vacation. Sitting by the bed of an elderly person while he slept filled in the next couple of weeks; but, when we were heading for the Quickie Box Factory to join the line of people robotically pounding nails into new coffin crates, we knew it was time for a change in job hunting strategies!
Aunt Mary had been a Registered Nurse like forever. She had been telling us we could work at a nursing home if we would just let her teach us what we would need to know. It was time to sit down with Aunt Mary. Our last job that summer was, indeed, as aids at a nursing home. Don’t think it had to do with the calendar, though. The job ended when dear old Mrs. G went for my throat and everything went black. Time to move on.
My review of the summer came to a halt when I found myself behind a heavily loaded 18-wheeler, moving at a snail’s pace. Soon there was a long line of cars right behind me. It was not possible to see around the tall truck so I waited for the driver to give me the signal. It is often a tense time for the first driver because the others can also see the trucker’s arm. They may not wait their turn before pulling out of the line and around the truck. At last, there it was and I pulled into the left lane, parallel to the truck.
I gave him a quick wave as I pressed down harder on the accelerator. To my horror, Benny did not speed up; in fact, he began to drop his speed. The trucker had noticed the oncoming car and was waving frantically at me to get around him. I was trying but the needle on the speedometer just kept falling. A quick glance back confirmed what I had already suspected; there was no way to return to my place in line. The driver that had been behind me did not see my distress and would not move back.
I shook my head at the panicked truckers desperate urging, pointing to the speedometer needle, which would soon be resting at the bottom of the gauge.
“Just relax,” I said right out-loud, “you won’t get hurt as badly if you just relax.” I had heard that drunk drivers often are not hurt in collisions where others die because they are extremely relaxed. There was just nothing I could do about my position. I was going to be hit, head-on. The last thing I saw was the man’s bright yellow tie as I let out the deep breath I had been holding, speaking His name, “Jesus.” I took my hands off the large steering wheel and waited for the impact.
When I opened my eyes, my hands still in my lap, I began trembling. The truck and long line of vehicles was a far distance ahead. A look in the rearview mirror let me know that the man with the yellow tie was nearly out of sight in the westbound lane. Benny and I were resting off the road on the eastbound soft shoulder. How had we made it to the right side of the road from that left lane? The Hand of the Lord had lifted Benny and me to safety. Totally awesome!
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