Faster Than a Pit Stop

by Laurie Bosley, 2003 copyright. All rights reserved.

On a warm Sunday evening, we were driving on our way into town. We were running late for church, which was pretty typical since there were four of us kids. Our dad, being the cautious driver of the family, tended to drive painfully slow at times. Because of this, mom was at the wheel again, impatient to make it to our destination on time. As she was driving and quickly making up the lost minutes, we approached the local convenience store.

As it neared, my dad innocently asked if we had enough gas to make it into town. Quickly, mom looked down and realized that we did indeed need to stop. About to miss the entrance, she hit the brakes and swerved into the parking lot. As we headed toward the gas pumps at break-neck speed, we looked up and saw a startled man on the other side of the pumps. He was staring at us, frozen with fear. Before he could react, mom jerked the wheel to the right and skidded to a halt beside the pumps in precisely the right spot.

She came to such an abrupt stop that the car bounced back a good two feet. It rocked back and forth several times before settling into its’ final resting place. Faster than a pit stop, mom jumped out of the car and started frantically pumping in a few dollars worth of gas. You could tell she was calculating all of the lost time we’d need to make up for.

Hesitantly, we looked out the window on the left side of the vehicle. Standing on the other side of the gas pumps was the same man who had been directly in our car’s path only moments before. Still in shock, he stared at our mom with his mouth hanging open, the gas pump dangling from his hand. Sure he would catch a fly with his mouth staying open for so long, I quietly studied this harmless bystander.

He was an older man, dressed simply in a flannel shirt and jeans – a John Deere hat on his head. He looked like a good old country boy, like a man who didn’t get excited about much. Looking at his face, I’d say he’d just received his fair share of excitement for the day – maybe even for the year. As I studied him, his gaze traveled over to our car. Before he got a good look at us, we all sank down in our seats, sure that we would die of embarrassment.

A few humiliating moments later, mom jumped back in the car and slammed the door, eager to be off. We tightened our seatbelts and prayed for God to have mercy on us all. The wheels squealed as we sped out of the parking lot making a hasty departure. As we looked back, that poor dazed man was still standing in his original spot watching us leave – the gas pump still hanging loosely in his hand. Looking at his diminishing figure, I threw in a quick prayer of recovery for this latest victim of our mom’s driving. Just as his shocked face will always be a part of our memories, I’m sure our car, and sadly our mom’s face, will be forever etched in his.