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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Thanks for the Ride, Lady


I flew to Chicago today and was able to spend some time with my mom before she kindly chauffeured me to the downtown hotel where I’ll be staying the next 3 nights. My Waze navigation seemed to trail off just prior to the last turn, as if throwing its hands up to say, “Well. I got you this far. Good enough.” Mom finally navigated to a curb where I could have hopped out and crossed the Chicago street, wheeled suitcase trailing behind me. She seemed to reconsider and drove me around the block to get me curbside to the hotel. “I think we’re going the wrong way down a one way street?” I suggested while craning my head - not quite sure. “Huh. Are we?” Mom wondered aloud. A car politely honked and we cruised up to the hotel where I was safely delivered curbside. “Oh we were! Look - it says ‘one way begins here.’ On that sign!” I pointed out. “Oh yeah!” Mom agreed. I once made a similar street while driving a group of friends to the wake of another friend’s family member. The street had been deserted, and short, but my friend Anne didn’t find this particularly reassuring. My attitude had been as casual as my mom’s - in retrospect, Anne probably feared her wake would be next. At least she’d probably have had a better driver to get her there. One year, Andrea and I visited my mom at Christmas time. A light dusting of snow had fallen, coating the roadways. Her Chevy wasn’t up to the task and soon after pulling onto the road, the car slid, completing a full donut as if in slow motion,before it slid neatly to a stop just prior to a stop sign. “Now. Should I take the back roads or the main roads?” My mom wondered aloud, clearly non-plussed. “THE MAIN ROADS!” Andrea said, alarmed, from the back seat. Mom conceded and we made our way into her town without any further excitement. Maybe driving skills are hereditary? I spent time driving with each parent when I was learning. My dad would take me out in his aging GMC that had rusted through the floor board. You could peer down and see the asphalt whipping past. They don’t make cars like they used to - so much plastic. The view of the road below obstructed. Come to think of it, I had a lot of adventures in or related to cars with my parents over the years. One Wednesday night during Advent, my mom and I were driving from our home in Boulder Hill to Aurora to attend church. My dad had stayed home after putting in a long day at work with the Burlington Northern Railroad. The skies were dark as we drove. We were near the church when someone stumbled in

to the front of my mom’s car, head gashed and bloody, bouncing of the hood before dropping to the payment. I remember wanting to look at the guy - to see if he was dead, but my mother quickly squashed my effort. This was long before cell phones were common place but some other member of the congregation happened upon the scene and had a neighbor phone the police. The police arrived and assured us the man we’d hit was okay - just very drunk so likely to be hungover and sore the next day. I’ve always had a wild imagination AND I’d seen Creepshow 2, with the Hitchhiker, "Thanks for the ride, lady!” While riding home, I recalled that often the names and addresses of people who were in accidents were printed in the paper. By the time we arrived home, I’d convinced myself that the guy we’d hit would hunt us down and kill us the moment he’d sobered up. I remember wailing this to my dad, who’d clearly never seen Creepshow so he seemed completely confused by my frantic insistence.

Welp. I didn't sit down to write that and I'm imagining my mom's face while she reads this. Mom - this shit is comic gold. Thanks for the writing material, and for the ride, lady!


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