423b2e
423b2e

8.22.2011

my favorite rusty truck


gay hill, tx
Minor Miracle
by Marilyn Nelson

Which reminds me of another knock-on-wood
memory. I was cycling with a male friend,
through a small midwestern town. We came to a 4-way
stop and stopped, chatting. As we started again,
a rusty old pick-up truck, ignoring the stop sign,
hurricaned past scant inches from our front wheels.
My partner called, “Hey, that was a 4-way stop!”
The truck driver, stringy blond hair a long fringe
under his brand-name beer cap, looked back and yelled,
“You fucking niggers!”
And sped off.
My friend and I looked at each other and shook our heads.
We remounted our bikes and headed out of town.
We were pedaling through a clear blue afternoon
between two fields of almost-ripened wheat
bordered by cornflowers and Queen Anne’s lace
when we heard an unmuffled motor, a honk-honking.
We stopped, closed ranks, made fists.
It was the same truck. It pulled over.
A tall, very much in shape young white guy slid out:
greasy jeans, homemade finger tattoos, probably
a Marine Corps boot-camp footlockerful
of martial arts techniques.

“What did you say back there!” he shouted.
My friend said, “I said it was a 4-way stop.
You went through it.”
“And what did I say?” the white guy asked.
“You said: ‘You fucking niggers.’”
The afternoon froze.

“Well,” said the white guy,
shoving his hands into his pockets
and pushing dirt around with the pointed toe of his boot,
“I just want to say I’m sorry.”
He climbed back into his truck
and drove away.

xxx

7 comments:

soubriquet said...

Without using those words, I have, and will, abuse other motorists,(not in a way they can hear), when they dither at junctions, brake suddenly for no apparent reason, veer about whilst messing with the radio etc.

I often, moments later, regret it, and chastise myself for my impatience, and remind myself that sometimes I am the lost, distracted motorist. Should I not be irate at myself too?
I can get mad at people, but I just can't sustain it for long, it's artificial, not my natural state. It subsides, soon enough.
How many of us, though, have the courage to go back, and say, "I'm sorry"?

red dirt girl said...

Soubry~

I'm not an irate driver. I might exclaim at a sudden move in my space. I rarely cuss unless involved in a near-miss collision. 4 way stops confound people. The person on the left goes first OR the person who arrived at the 4 way first goes first. Don't other drivers know this?? Being a not very trusting person, I always dither a bit at a stop because I don't want to be hit. I would have passed on this poem especially because of its strong epitaph which is a huge NO-NO here in the South. But the final stanza grabbed me and held me. Indeed, how many beefy, stringy haired, tattooed guys would drive by later and say, "I'm sorry."

xxx

goatman said...

Bust your knuckles a few times trying to remove eternally rusty bolts to "fix er up" and your glee may have a bit of a shadow.

Just speaking from experience.

red dirt girl said...

Goatman~

I has me a strategy: my beloved has a knack for re-building old cars (landrovers to be exact), so I'm hoping his knuckles will be doing the busting and mine will be doing the sweet sweet driving!! :)

xxx

soubriquet said...

Hah!
The mechanic's muse is required to do more than just drive the finished item. Scraping rust and old paint, for instance, is good for the soul. And the pleasures of driving something once left for dead, in a barn, a scrapyard, or a hedge, and knowing you brought it back from oblivion, far outweigh those of just driving a something someone else did.

red dirt girl said...

How about I bring you a cold beer periodically and wipe the sweat from your brow, dearest ?? Seriously, you know I'll be helping rather ineptly of course ...

xxx

goatman said...

rdg,
You can rebuild the carb -- it is an inside job and quite easy to do.
Just don't get me involved!