One summer day when I was 10 or 11, my dad pulled our family car up our driveway and parked in the carport. While he had been out running errands, some neighbors had stopped by and were visiting with mom.
I was playing in the front yard with some other kids and saw my dad arrive and go in the house. And then something else caught my eye. I wasn’t sure at first, so I watched for a couple seconds before I could confirm that yes, the car was indeed starting to roll backward, ever so slowly.
I called out to the other kids but they, too, were dumbstruck by the sight of a driverless car rolling backward out of the carport. Realizing this problem was beyond my abilities, I darted around the car, sprang up the carport stairs, and burst into the kitchen where my parents and their guests were chatting.
“I’m sorry for the interruption,” my mom said to the guests. “Son, you know better than to interrupt people when they‘re talking.” Then she turned to our neighbors again and bade them continue. “You were saying?”
I waited for about two or three seconds before trying again. “Listen! You don’t understand. The car…”
“What did I just say to you?!” My mom snapped at me.
“But…but…” I stammered.
“One more time, young man, and I’m going to take you to to the back room,” my mom warned.
Historical note: “Take you to the back room” was 1970s code for “beat you half to death.”
In my mom’s defense, her parental credibility was on the line. One false move and everyone in the neighborhood would know about it inside of 30 minutes.
Additional historical note: It was considered a shameful practice back in the ‘70s not to beat your kids half to death every time you had the chance.
Summoning a good bit of courage, I finally blurted out, “The car is rolling down the driveway!”
It was a glorious moment. Few statements have I ever made have had such an immediate, electric effect.
Alarm registered on both of my parents faces as they sprang to their feet, knocking table and chairs aside, and bolted out the door.
I’ll admit one part of me still wishes I had kept my mouth shut and let the dang car roll down the driveway, just to teach my parents a lesson. In truth, their rushing outside made little difference, aside from my dad’s injury.
On his way across the carport, Dad hit an oil spot (every 1970s family had at least one) and hit the cement hard, busting his tailbone. But as painful as that injury was, Dad would be quick to tell you that it could have been much worse had he not curled up into The Fetal Position as he was falling.
Dad never lost an opportunity to extol the virtues of The Fetal Position. My father had long held that the best position to adopt when hurdling through the air on the way to the ground was The Fetal Position (i.e. curling up into a ball). This position ensured that no vital organs or limbs were exposed to injury, apart from one’s head and spine, which, as everyone knows, are of little importance.
When I later suggested that he might not have hurt his tailbone had he not been in The Fetal Position, my father sagely shook his head at my foolishness, and once again assured me that his injuries would have no doubt been multiplied immeasurably if it were not for The Fetal Position.
Miraculously, the driverless car rolled backwards all the way down the driveway, turning perfectly around when it reached the street, narrowly missing a passing car, and then plowed head-first into my neighbors’ ditch across the street. The only casualty was our neighbor’s bush, the loss of which they graciously forgave.
From this harrowing experience, I learned four valuable life lessons.
1] If you have bad news, spit it out. Bad news doesn’t get better with time.
2] Given the right situations, it’s sometimes okay to break the rules.
3] When falling, always use The Fetal Position.
4] Always put your car in “Park” before exiting your vehicle.
© 2022 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site www.CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com or contact him via e-mail at Charles@CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com