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Off Track Driving

Got stuck in traffic yesterday in the middle of Tampa's new Sinkhole District (I-4). Next to me was a car that literally sat inches from the passenger door. The occupants were probably in their 80s ... thick glasses on the driver's nose ... the top of his wife's head was just barely visible above the dashboard. My heart sunk for a minute as I glanced over. I could have sworn it was my dad.

Fortunately for the entire country it wasn't him. He was resting comfortably at Menorah Manor without access to any motor vehicle.

It wasn't always that way ... of course. And his reputation for bad driving didn't start when he was an old man. There were numerous stories about his driving. Actually ... it wasn't only his driving. When I was about 10, he slammed my fingers in the car door and didn't realize it until he drove down the street (with me running as fast as I could ... screaming). He backed over my father in law's foot when he was getting something out of the trunk. And although the cars he owned were covered with dents, he always managed to come away unscarred.

But these stories all pale in comparison to the accident he had that caused me to take his keys away once and for all.

About twenty years ago, we were visiting the parents in New Orleans. I noticed that their car was gone when we pulled up. As we sat down at the breakfast table I questioned him, "Hey Dad. Where's the Buick?" 
Dad answered ... "At the shop."
"Having problems?"
"No ... just needed repairs."
"What kind?"
"Just repairs Joel ... don't worry about it."
Mom chimed in ... "He hit a train."
Me ... "You hit a TRAIN?"
Dad said ..."ESTHER ... just be quiet about it."
Mom .... "Sam ... Joel needs to know about this. I almost DIED."
Me ... "You were in the car when he hit the train?"
Mom ...."No ... but I almost had a heart attack when I found out."
Me ... "That's a relief."

"The train HIT ME ..."
I wasn't sure how to respond to that.
"... the train hit me. It was HIS fault."
I REALLY didn't know what to say to that.
I tried anyway ...."Dad ... how could the train be at fault? If he hit you ... you must have been in his way."
"It happened pretty fast ... but he definitely hit me... and now ... THEY WANT ME to pay for the damages to the train."
I brought out a pencil and a piece of paper. "Okay," I said as I started to draw, "Here's the track ... and here's you ... where was the train?"
He drew his car ... "I was stopped in front of the electric arm ... it came down in front of me ... when the train hit my car right here (on the driver's side)."
"But that stops you IN FRONT of the tracks. You must have been on the tracks."
"I was IN FRONT of the sign and the train HIT me."

Well ... we ultimately drove to the two way side street where the accident happened and as I looked at the electronic arm ... it came to me. Dad had driven on the wrong side of the street. When he stopped in front of the sign ... he was sitting on the tracks looking straight ahead. He was lucky to be alive. That was the last time I let him have his keys.

He wasn't happy and he insisted he needed the car to get around. But my son Josh had the answer. "Don't worry Grampy ... I'll give you rides".

HIM ... I trust.


Chrissy said…
Oh my! I'm dreading the day I have to take away Dad's keys.
Joel Momberg said…
That's a loooooonnnng way away.

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