Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Hose that Got Away

 Courtney has an old beater of a car.  She’s had it since she was 16 years old and it has served her well.  The car will be making that long and final drive to the wreckers this spring where it will be crushed into oblivion.  It is an interesting car to look at – each dent and crack tells a different and compelling tale.  A new dent was added this week.  It’s a very small dent, but probably one of the more memorable blemishes.

It was quite late in the evening when Courtney arrived home from Bible Study.  I was downstairs, but I could hear the sounds of her taking off her boots, putting her keys on the counter and closing the closet door.  I also heard another sound.  Was she crying?  I was hearing a wailing noise from upstairs.  It must have been quite the Bible study!

She came down and I braced for the worst.  

Courtney wasn’t crying though, she was laughing.  It wasn’t just a chuckle either; it was full on hysterical laughter.  After a few minutes she calmed down and the story came out.

The gas gauge on her car was hovering above empty so Courtney pulled into the corner gas station on her way to Bible study.  It’s a full serve gas station and it was recently taken over by a new family.  The gas attendant lady put $20 of gas in and Courtney went inside to pay.  When Courtney came out, the lady waved goodbye to Courtney and told her to ‘come again!’  Little did they know that Courtney would be back that night under the cover of darkness.

Courtney started her venerable Sunfire and lurched out of the gas station.  She failed to hear to clunk-like sound as she pulled away from the pump.  That could be due to the tick her car makes or because the power steering makes a whining sound or because her gas cap door does not click shut or because she had Steve Green blaring away over the speakers.  We may never know.

She arrived at the church and headed inside.  One of the other study participants, who came in behind her, asked her if someone was playing a joke on her.  Courtney was confused and didn’t know what he meant.  He explained that there was a gas hose hanging out of her car.  Courtney rushed out the door to examine her beloved car.  The rest of the group was hot on her heels.

It was at this point that Courtney started laughing and didn’t stop until she somehow fell asleep (probably out of sheer exhaustion).  When she woke up in the morning, the laughter continued, and I suspect continued sporadically throughout the day.

The Bible study group also found this to be extremely amusing, and one of the group members even got a friend to snap a picture of the gas pump and dismembered hose.  There was one person though who showed concern over the mishap.  

“Look, there’s a small dent by your gas tank.”  

If the Bible study group had been looking at the car in the light of day, this person probably would not have bothered to mention this small dent.  They say that the rings of a tree have many stories to tell – stories of harsh winters, forest fires, and bug infestations.  Courtney’s car is like one of these ancient trees of the forest.  There are plenty of dents, scratches and cracks and each one has a story to tell.  The complete lack of hubcaps does not help the situation either.

After Bible study, Courtney jumped in ol’ faithful and roared off for the gas station.  It’s a good thing she wasn’t pulled over on her way back to the gas station. She was still laughing hysterically at that point and was approaching butterfly net territory which probably would have netted her into a padded room.

Thankfully for Courtney, the gas station was closed and she could drop off the gas hose and burn rubber out of there.  In all fairness to Court, it wasn’t her fault.  The new owners of the gas station had waved her off after she had paid up inside and so she thought her car was ready to roll.

Her car must have been quite the sight though as she cruised through Vineland that evening with the gas hose swinging behind her like the tail of a kite.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Reading while Driving

School is a short ten minute drive away now, but for the last two years, I had an hour drive to and from school.  I had to traverse the 403 and 401 from Hamilton to Woodstock which is probably the straightest and most boring stretch of highway on the planet.  People often pitied me for my long drive, but I actually grew to love zipping down that highway and now find myself missing those long drives.  In fact, I enjoyed the drives to and from school so much, that I would sometimes go around the block once or twice just to prolong the drive.  Why?

Audio books.  I was addicted to audio books.  My favourite little library in Paris had an aisle full of them, and I made full use.  My drives to school would fly by as I flew through chapter after chapter.  Sometimes I would get to school and not really remember a single detail about the drive.  Sometimes that scared me.

My favourite audio books by far were Jan Karon’s Mitford books.  The Mitford series is about a minister named Father Timothy who serves Lord’s Chapel in the small Mitford community.  Mitford seems like an idyllic little town in the foothills of North Carolina, but it quickly becomes evident that Mitford is not immune to the human condition of depravity.

Father Tim lives a quiet bachelor life but his life quickly changes when a dog named Barnabas, who is the “size of a Buick”, starts following Father Tim.  Next a small boy named Dooley Barlowe shows up one day at Father Tim’s office and announces that he needs to ‘take a dump’.  Father Tim let’s him use his bathroom, and the story of Dooley’s downtrodden life quickly unravels.  Father Tim eventually takes Dooley in and becomes a father.

The cast of Mitford characters are quite colourful – from his opinionated secretary Emma Garrett, his storied parishioner Miss Saddie Baxter, the joke-telling Uncle Billy, to the staid doctor Hoppy Harper.

The Mitford series contains 9 books and two novels – that’s a couple of month’s worth of audio books.  By the time I got to about book 4, I would catch myself praying for the characters in the books.  That’s when I decided that it would be best to take a little break from the Mitford books for a couple of weeks.  

And then there were Peter Mayle’s books on Provence, France.  Mayle and his wife, who were from London, England decided to retire in Provence.  Peter Mayle decided to write about his experiences on the ground – tasting the food, travelling around the countryside, meeting some colourful Frenchmen, and many other cultural discoveries.  The books were very funny and extremely interesting.  My stomach would start drowning out the audio book when he started describing all of the French restaurants he would frequent.

When I would reach my destination – and it didn’t matter where it was – it was always disappointing to get out of the car after hearing about sunny, beautiful Provence.  I decided it would be best to take a little break from his books too.

Don’t get me wrong though – I am thankful and do enjoy being close to school, but I do miss the Paris Library and my storied journeys.