I must not. Otherwise, I wouldn't share half of the stuff that I do. A messy house. Freebies of any kind. Scars in my belly button. Truant children. Well, I could go on and on.
Studmuffin shared this revelation with me when I was sharing some of the ideas I have for posts. "Babe, you have no shame." I couldn't argue with that! I have lots of great ideas, but they float away in the wind before I can really grasp them. I've gotten to where I even write them on random sheets of paper....then I lose the paper.
You see, I love to laugh. Especially at myself. I enjoy making others laugh. At my expense? That's okay, as long as they enjoy the story. Heck, they don't even have to laugh at my story, it could be any story....Just as long as there's laughter. So, Dear Reader, here you go...And yes, you have my permission to laugh. And be startled at my complete lack of shame.
It was the summer of 1992, and I was a ripe old 16. Growing up on a farm/ranch comes with lots of responsibilities. The particular day we will be learning about was no exception. My dad worked hard...(still does)...He worked full time as a contract pumper for oil and gas companies driving 400 miles a day, plus he still ran our ranch. Mom worked at the school during the school year, working as a teacher's aide, and a school bus driver. Hey, it's not so bad having a mom driving the bus. I put my makeup on on the way to school. I had a nifty butane curling iron to achieve the proper 90s hair. I never had to do homework at home, because it all got done on the bus! But, we're not talking about my bus riding adventures, we're talking about tractor driving adventures....Yep, tractor driving.
We had a 4 wheel drive Case tractor. I'm not sure of the year or any other details, I'm pretty impressed I remember that. I do remember we still had a big blade on the front of the tractor that was handy for building up terraces, or blading snowy roads. Yes, the blade is a significant part of our story. Do you think I would waste your time with useless information? Okay, maybe so, but still......it's pertinent THIS TIME.
The A/C had gone out on the tractor, and it had been getting repaired. One bright sunny summer morning my dad informed me the tractor was ready, and he was going to let me drive it home. No, this was not a privilege. It was 44 miles from our home to this particular town, and the tractor's top speed was like, oooooh, FOURTEEN MILES PER HOUR! I was not pleased. But you didn't say "no" to dad, and really who would want to? He was always so nice about his orders for the day. "Andi, I'm going to let you check the cattle today, and ride the horse through them, so they won't spook when we round them up next week. Then I thought I'd let you drive the tractor for me today. Oh, and I think we need to move the irrigation system. I'll let you help me with that tonight." Yep, no joke, he "let" me do all sorts of stuff. No orders, no demands...he gave us permission to do our chores.
So, we went to get the tractor, in a town that's 44 miles away. Dad was in an unusual mood that day...unusual in that he was cranky and angry about something, and I knew it. Dad very seldom showed anger, so whatever went down, it was BIG. It was a lovely drive to town...in silence (no kidding, it happens occasionally with me.) Dad paid for the repairs, put me in my big rig, and set off for a day of driving all over the Panhandle and Northwest Oklahoma pumping wells.
I started off on my journey. Just me and my tractor....bee bopping along, radio blasting (you had to turn it up REALLY loud to hear it over the motor)......"I got some ocean front property in Arizona..." Imagine me singing at the top of my lungs.
Whooo! It was getting kind of hot! Hmmmm....Yep, it was shaping up to be a scorcher. I cranked up the A/C and kept on rolling....The only problem was, I seemed to get hotter and hotter, and HOTTER! The gall-derned air conditioner had quit....AGAIN! By this time I'd been driving an hour. That meant an hour back to town. What would I do then? This was before the days of cell phones. Dad had a big bag phone, but for some reason I remember he didn't have his phone. Either that, or I dreaded calling him in such a mood. I'm not sure where Mom was, but not home. My grandparents were gone. That left me with few options. I didn't have any family or friends in the town...What to do...What to do....
Remember, I'm 16 at this point with all of my worldly wisdom....I decided to drive it on home. Okay, so it's hot. Open up the windows! Woops, big mistake. This seemed to magnify the heat rolling off of the engine and straight back to me. I kept the blowers going, but they seemed to do little good. I was hot. REALLY HOT.
I took desperate measures.
Really desperate measures.
I'm sweltering, and I'm going to die of heat stroke measures.
I stripped down to my panties, and I drove that sucker home. Yes I did, and I ain't lyin'! I drove past 2 different families that we went to church with. I saw them coming, but my legs were way too sweaty to drag my jeans back over. So, I met them in my skivvies...and waved just as cheerfully at them as they did at me. I'm sure they thought I was in shorts...At least I hope they did. (It was the Nelsons and the Cummins families. Yep, I even remember who.)
So, the A/C is blowing hot air. The radio is on full blast to distract me from my misery, and my water ran out long before the 4 hour ride was over, and I'm in my skivvies. Yes, FOUR HOURS. You see, 14 is top end. That means that with hills and curves I apparently averaged 11mph. It was a long ride. You'd think with nothing better to do, and driving EXTREMELY slowly I'd notice all sorts of little nuances! Remember I was 16? Well, I was not the most observant 16 year old.
I was so excited when I finally saw the turn off to our house. I began my turn, and LURCH! The tractor stopped. What the?! Why am I stopped? The tractor won't go forward! Hmmmm...
At this point I begin to study my surroundings. Remember the blade on the front of the tractor? Well, it seems that the blade had worked it's way down gradually, what with all of the bumping down the road. Not only had the blade worked it's way down, but it hadn't done it recently. Did I happen to mention that the road was a farm to market road, and it had recently been repaved? Yes indeedy! I had just scraped the top layer of asphalt off of that pretty new road. Of course, this little factoid did not dawn on me right away. I just raised that sucker up, and continued on my way. Seriously, I think I was near delirium at this point.
I drove the last few miles to home, and who is there? My sister Paula! I shared my tale with her, of course. She got a big kick out of it, and it was HER who pointed out I'd just bladed a newly surfaced road. WOOPS!!! Just for laughing at my expense I made her help me move it to the field.
I was pretty proud of myself. I drove a miserably hot tractor home in the heat of summer (Dear Reader, if I was farming that meant it was LATE summer, just in case you didn't know that, and that meant it was HOT.) Did I mention I was hot? I'm sure that explains my reasoning for driving the tractor to the field. Why did I take a tractor to the field that had a newly repaired A/C that didn't work? Who knows....I was 16...That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!
So, Dad got home. I shared my tale with him (minus the driving in my skivvies part-I'm not that stupid.) He did not find it funny...Not at all. Did you ever wonder what driving down a paved road with the blade down would do to damage the blade? Well, my 16 year old brain surely didn't wonder. That is, until Dad asked me about the braces/brackets/support thingies that held the blade on. "Huh? I'm not sure I know what you mean..." BTW, I'm sure he used the right term, but it escapes me at this time.
Well, my long day continued. Dad let me help him weld them back up to their original thickness of, oh, an inch or two? And their thickness before the repair job? Ooooh, 1/4 inch or so. I'm telling you, that blade had been hanging on by a thread.
Dad made me stand there, in the sun, and "help" him repair the blade. I think the most I did was hand a tool every so often, but he was determined to teach me to observe my surroundings, and THINK, not just float through life. Well, I certainly remembered to check the blade every so often when driving it, but as far as always being observant? Well, those are tales for another day.....
As it is written:
"See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
Thank you, Jesus, for taking away my shame!