By KELSEY GHERING
Being a late bloomer is not the best excuse for people my age to justify falling behind on things like earning your driver’s license, but that’s the best one I have.
I didn’t get my license until I was 18, and I could not drive in full confidence until sometime last spring when I finally learned to steer with one hand. No, there’s nothing wrong with me – I just have the coordination of a baboon with two left feet trying to balance 87 plates on her head like that crazy illustration from Dr. Suess.
Anyway, I thought I was getting the hang of this whole adult thing – driving included – until that illusion came crashing down on me Saturday.
I was on my way to meet with a wedding decorator who could coordinate the linens when I noticed branches in my peripheral vision and my short life flashing before my eyes.
OK, it wasn’t that bad, but I ended up literally trapped in a trench of snow about 100 yards away from my house. I grew up in downtown Franklin but we moved 15 minutes outside town so my dad could reunite with his country roots and my parents could raise the rest of my siblings in peace and quiet.
Or so they thought. I don’t think towing daughter No. 1 out of her own mess was part of the deal – but there was my dad, ready to help me when I needed it. I’d never been so thankful to see him make fun of me in my life.
My car, a Hyundai Santa Fe, was stopped at a 45-degree angle with me at the top end as I waited for rescue. The wedding decorator lives about 15 minutes outside Franklin’s neighbor, Oil City, so I was doing the logical albeit idiotic GPS work while rolling toward my doom.
I could remember my driver’s ed teacher explaining how it only took three seconds for something to go wrong – and humans need just about three seconds to react. I was three seconds too late, and even though the Santa Fe and I emerged without a scratch, I was definitely humbled to see the true power of three seconds.
Actually, I suppose humbled is an understatement. I was in hysterics. I called my dad once I landed and realized I was not going to be able to back out alone. And then I told Jason, who reacted accordingly by calling me to make sure everything was OK.
Sure, everything was OK physically, but losing control of the car was enough to keep my wrists shaking and my jaw blubbering. He dished out some tough love and made sure I had help on the way before hanging up.
Which brings us back to my dad. He rolled up to my window, asking “How the hell did you do that?” And then came back to the scene with a chain. I was expecting a lecture and a prolonged call to his brother, but he was all business.
He towed me out of the ditch with the family Suburban and then sent me on my way to Oil City, reminding me to clean up my runny mascara. Sometimes, you can’t clean up your own mess and that’s OK.
My father was there to remind me sometimes it takes a rusty chain, 500 horsepower and some good ol’ fashioned elbow grease to get you out of trouble, and I’m thankful he did.