The Muskogee Turnpike was the scene for Older Brother’s heroics. The whole family of five was traveling in my in-law’s van to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, to visit my sister’s family. We were on pace to arrive before dark. (If you know anything about dads and road trips, you know that meeting totally contrived deadlines is tantamount to a trip’s success.)
We had not traveled the turnpike in awhile, so I couldn’t remember the charge at each of the two tollbooths. We thought our $2.90 in collective change should do the trick. The first one required our six quarters. We hoped the second toll was $1.40 or less so that we could sail through the shorter “Coins Only” lane. Arrrggghhh! $1.50!
Mrs. Right said, “Wait, I have ten pennies! Will it take pennies?!?”
I didn’t know! I hadn’t had to consider this before. Hasty decision…yes, the automatic coin collector would indeed take pennies…I hoped…and I committed!
The sign clearly read “quarters, dimes, and nickels only”…too late! Trapped by concrete on either side of our lane and approaching traffic from the rear, panic ensued! A nickel was found and deposited, bringing our total to $1.45. But one more was needed. Someone had to save the day…and quickly!
“There’s a truck behind us!” I urged the coin seekers.
Suddenly—and from a dead sleep—Older Brother sprang to life and exclaimed, “They keep some change in here!” In one deft motion, he reached into the console, emerged with a nickel, and passed it into my waiting hand to toss into the coin basket to gain our release from turnpike purgatory.
In so doing he quite possibly preserved the enjoyment of the trip:
- The driver of the truck to the rear never knew impending road rage on our account.
- We never suffered the repercussions of said road rage because Older Brother had come alive to save the day just in the nick of time.
- My arbitrary travel deadlines were still in play to the (unbeknownst) joy of all.
I was so amazed by the sudden and timely finding of the nickel that I didn’t even notice the “Drive Friendly” signs along the turnpike. These are signs that I always do my best to obey. Oh, well, I thought, I could always wave at the other drivers on the way home.
Tell me, how have you or your traveling companions ever sprung to life to similarly save the day for your entourage?
Al Ainsworth is preserving his family of five’s stories, much like he did his own childhood stories that are preserved in Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales).
Purchase Lines in the Gravel now:
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/67513462@N00/125498111″>Toll Road</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>