Posted by: Rob | June 24, 2008

Driving My Life Away – part II

Continued from here:

Ah, waitress pour me another cup of coffee
Pop me down jack me up
Shoot me off flyin’ down the highway
Lookin’ for the morning

Oooooooh, I’m driving my life away
Lookin’ for a better way, for me
Oooooooh, I’m driving my life away
Lookin’ for a sunny day

from Eddie Rabbitt – “Drivin’ My Life Away”

When last you read here I had just escaped unscathed from my first “head-on” collision. No physical damage to me (and not much to either vehicle) and no consignment to the dungeon from my dad.

My next adventure happened at…

2) Age 15:

It was the year we were to pack up lock, stock and barrel and move from Ontario to Alberta. My dad had acquired some cash from his dad in order to get a couple of reliable vehicles (our family was a bit down on our luck at that point in time). One of the vehicles dad bought was a pick up truck – necessary for the kind of work dad planned to do out west.

Dad had recently arrived back in Ontario after spending the winter in Edmonton, Alberta trying to make a few bucks off the housing boom going on in the mid-’70’s. The truck in question was a 1973 Ford F100 Custom. Emerald green with the sheet metal trough down each side painted a contrasting white. It was about a plain vanilla a truck as you could get. A 240 ci straight 6 with 3 speed manual (3 in the tree) transmission. According to my dad, the truck was “eastern sprung”. My dad wasn’t really all that mechanically inclined; I figured out later that the truck was really just a 1/4 ton.

The previous owner must have been some kind of babe magnet. The truck was decked out with a sheepskin seat cover and “suggestive” stickers all over, including little orange ovals above each door that said “TRY ME”.

So, as I said, dad was fresh back from Alberta. He had already registered the truck out west so it was sporting the “really nice” yellow Alberta license plates with black lettering.

The family was sitting around watching TV one evening and someone decided that we needed snacks. We were about 3 to 4 miles outside of town, so dad says, “Rob, why don’t you take the truck and drive into town to the little store* and get some chips, dip and some pretzels?”

He adds, “Take S** with you for company.”

So, he gives me the keys to the truck and S and I take off for town.

I got maybe a mile*** and a half down the road before we saw another vehicle. It entered the road-way from a side road and came up behind us, headlights shining in my rearview. I slowed a bit – you know: nervous underage driver with no license – to let the vehicle pass.

Instead of passing, the OPP constable switched on his red mars lights. Shit! There must be some mistake I thought. The idea to attempt to outrun him briefly flared in my brain, but then my Virgo good sense took over and, realizing there was no way out of this, I signaled, slowed down, pulled over and stopped.

The litany “oh shit, what do I do now? oh shit, what do i do now?” ran through my mind as the constable walked up the side of the truck to the driver’s window. As he stood there shining his flashlight on my face I rolled down the window. I remember glancing at S and thinking she looked like a scared rabbit cowering against the passenger side door. (She later told me that she came very close to opening the door and bolting into the woods. Now that would have looked good, wouldn’t it?)

The constable asked me for my license, registration and insurance. I don’t recall, but I must have dug the registration and insurance out of the glove box with S’s help.

“Your license?” asked the constable again.

“Uh…..I don’t have it with me.”

“Where is it?”

“Uh….I think I must have forgotten it at home.”

“Whose truck is this?”

“It’s my dad’s.”

“Why does it have Alberta license plates?”

“Uh…we’re moving to Alberta.”

“Who is this with you?”

“Uh….my sister.”

“You don’t have a driver’s license, do you?”

“Uh…………I don’t.”

“Please step out of the vehicle and come back to the cruiser with me.”

I don’t remember much of what transpired thereafter. I think the constable ran the plates, probably somehow confirmed that I didn’t have a driver’s license, and then asked me how I happened to have gotten the truck away from the house without my parents knowing.

“I…..uh….pushed it out of the driveway and down the road a bit before starting it up and heading for town.”

Appraising look. I was a good size for 15, but I think the constable had a tough time believing that I could have pushed that truck out of a driveway and down a road to avoid having my folks hear the engine start up. Even with the help of my 12-year old sister.

Oh, but he did say that I was a pretty good driver. If it wasn’t for the fact that the tail lights on the truck weren’t working, he wouldn’t have had reason to stop me for a random check.

He retrieved my sister, asked where we lived and proceeded to give us a ride back to my folks’ house. We probably exchanged a bit more small talk (I was riding shotgun, whilst sis was in the back seat) while I ran scenarios in my head. I knew I wasn’t going to be in trouble (since dad had sent me on this errand) but the constable didn’t know that. How would it play out? Would we fool the constable?

We arrived back at home and entered the house. I called dad downstairs and he was, of course upon spying our guest the constable, quick enough to go immediately into the act – the totally unsuspecting parent who has been bamboozled by an errant teen son. “What have you been up to, son?”  It was worthy of an Academy Award, I’ll bet…that is, until younger sis bopped down the stairs (she was six then) loudly enquiring, “Did ya get the chips?!?”

I’m not sure if the constable caught this off-hand remark that put all of our stories in doubt, but if he did, he let it pass. With a stern warning to me, he was off. I think he gave dad a ride back to the truck in order to bring it home.

So, you might wonder, did I learn a lesson that night? Damn straight! I learned that I would always take good care of my vehicles and ensure that everything – especially the tail lights – was in working order before leaving home.

* the little store: our forerunner of the modern day “convenience store”.

** S – my younger sister, the older of my two sisters.

*** this was pre-September 1, 1977 when Canada switched to metric/SI, so I can say mile rather than kilometre.

To be continued…



  1. You could have turned out so evil you know, Must be your innate wonderfulness that saved you.

  2. Annie: 😉

  3. […] July 9, 2008 Driving My Life Away – conclusion Posted by Rob under life | Tags: Driving |   I started my driving experiences here and continued them here. […]

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