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Monday, September 29, 2014

How You Know It's Not The End of the Story Yet

Just saw on the news this morning that a huge truck is jamming up the entire FDR drive here in NYC -- they had to shut the whole thing down, which, with the UN in session to boot, is no doubt making a LOT of people really, really cranky this morning.

It brings me back to the U-Haul truck I drove home from college one year. I dropped off my boyfriend at his house, not far from mine, and proceeded home. It had been many hours for me behind the wheel (my then-boyfriend was not a fan of driving a truck and did not want to take a turn; I felt lucky he even rode with me) during which I kept checking my mirrors because I felt way TOO WIDE for my lane.

So as I approached what my family calls the Troll Bridge, right off the Bronx River Parkway -- maybe any readers from Westchester County NY know what I'm talking about? -- I was a little nervous the truck would be TOO WIDE to fit through. But no, we looked just slim enough. So in I went.


What the...???

I checked my mirrors. No problem. Only then did it hit me, a few minutes after the top of the tunnel hit the roof of my truck. TOO TALL.

I tried to get out of the cab of the truck to survey the damage but couldn't open my door. Somebody yelled to me to keep going. So I tried. No. Stuck. More horrible sounds but not much movement. Somebody else yelled that I had to throw it into reverse and back it up, out of there. There were cars lining up on both sides of the Troll Bridge, waiting to get through. I felt like Pooh in Rabbit's hole.

Put it in reverse and floor it! The stranger yelled again.

Not wanting to spend the rest of my life in that Troll Bridge, and without a better idea, I did what the unseen stranger suggested.

With a great clattering and screeching -- and probably the truck was making noise too -- I backed out of the Troll Bridge. It was kind of slow and then POP I was out, into the daylight again.

I got out to survey the damage. Everything looked fine except the tires, weirdly, were on a sheet of metal.


I had sheered the roof right off the top of the truck and backed up onto it.

Exhausted, humiliated, grateful, I thanked the crew that had very helpfully gotten out of their cars and helped me, including helping me back up off the roof and lug it to the side of the road, and drove the now convertible truck filled with all my sad belongings from a failed rooming situation at college home for a Thanksgiving and family that were waiting for me.

My dad returned the truck for me the next day because I was too humiliated and depleted, and explained to them where they could retrieve the top portion of the truck I had rented.

When an envelope arrived a few weeks later for me from U-Haul, I was scared but not surprised. I was living with new people by then, strangers, and feeling very raw and tender and fragile in the world. And this would be just one more thing, one more blow. I opened the envelope slowly, wondering if the U-Haul people were suing me or just demanding some huge payment I didn't have.

It was a check.

For the full amount of my deposit.

I started to laugh and couldn't stop for a while. My new roommates probably thought I was nuts. I called home -- my parents thought I was kidding. When I swore I wasn't, they cracked up too. A check! They sent you a check? Maybe you could get a part time job wrecking stuff; it pays pretty well!

I have felt ever since that it was a moment of grace and forgiveness, receiving that check. Maybe it was somehow a sign from the universe that in spite of how things seemed to be going, right then, the end of the story wasn't me stuck in a rented truck sans petulant boyfriend, sans escape route, sans roommates, sans friends, sans ROOF, in a TROLL BRIDGE.

The end of the story was yet to come. A check. My money back. A funny coda. A memory of a crowd of people yelling at me to FLOOR IT and then clapping when I emerged, backwards, topless.

And that experience seems to me to be a perfect metaphor for something. But what? Maybe to keep going through the bad part because the funny is just a few beats down the way?

Or maybe the real nugget of wisdom here is: don't drive trucks through Troll Bridges. Or on the FDR drive.

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