I wonder how long I’ll drive around without a rear bumper before I start feeling embarrassed. It’s been an entire month now, so it’s probably about time. Honestly, for the first week or two, every time I looked at it, I laughed.
It all started with the camp auction. (Well, actually it started a year or two ago in the Riverside school parking lot. But that’s another story. And I was only a passenger.)
There were lots of people at camp for the weekend; and early Saturday morning we were all getting ready to head into Jackson for the camp benefit auction. Lots of carpooling happened. I ended up driving Judah, my mom and a load of auction items.
Samuel and Bruce were in front of us, with a large drink cooler (think: refrigerator) strapped in the back of their truck. They were going a lot slower than I like to drive, so when they pulled over onto a side road for a minute, I grabbed my opportunity and passed them up. The thought crossed my mind that maybe they were having trouble and I should stop to help, but the next thought in line convinced me that there was nothing I could do to help 2 grown men with vehicle problems. (You think I’m rambling here, but this is a key moment in my story. Keep reading.)
So we’re driving down the road, talking, and all of a sudden I hear something dragging behind the van. It sounds like I just ran over a tree branch and it got caught underneath my vehicle. Except there had been nothing on the road. Not even road kill. But I had been talking to my mom, so maybe I just wasn’t paying attention and I missed something?
I drove a little further, and the branch or whatever was still there, dragging along
like the last half of a Jesus Culture song like the week before your visit to the oral surgeon. I knew I had to stop and take care of it. So I found a driveway, pulled off, put my car in park and did a tiny bit of internal panicking. One of my worst fears is that I’ll hit a human being with my vehicle. It happens. People have been hit and dragged to death on this very road. The coward in me spoke out and said, “Judah, go back there and see what’s behind the van!”
He obediently opened the door and got out. Then the mom in me kicked in and thought, “I can’t send my son out to face my worst fear!” and so we met at the back of the van, where… there was no dead body – human or animal. Just a blue bumper, firmly attached to the driver’s side of the van and contentedly lying in the road on the passenger’s side.
What do you do with a bumper that’s halfway attached to your vehicle? If we had duct tape, we might have been able to stick it together until we got to Jackson. If my van hadn’t been full of semi-fragile auction items, I might have considered asking Judah to sit in the back with the rear door unlatched so he could hold the bumper on. For 20 minutes. (This kind of transparency is what destroys my reputation as a decent mother.)
There really weren’t any good options. So we tried the obvious one. Open the rear door. Snap the bumper back in place. Close the rear door. Click your heels three times… And drive off again.
It lasted about half a mile.
At that point, we just stood outside the van and waited. And I laughed. (As the dog in the yard next to us barked and barked and footsteps in the house came towards the front window and then away again without stepping outside to see if we needed help.)
Eventually Samuel and Bruce came along and saved us. It was kind of an ordeal. I had no choice but to stand there like the helpless female that I sometimes am and watch them struggle with screws that are really hard to get to. They persevered, good men that they are, and finally my bumper was safely loaded into the back of Samuel’s truck, where it got a free ride to the Bethel Camp auction. Someone did threaten to stick a number on it and auction it off. Fortunately for the bumper, that didn’t happen. It would have been rejected. Utterly and completely.
And that’s the story of why I’ve been driving around with no rear bumper.
The lesson I choose to take away from this experience is: any time you get a chance to pass a slower vehicle, do it. Post-haste!