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Is it just me?

Prairie Wool: Adventures in an "exceptional" vehicle
Many young folks drive nice vehicles, but Jason's aged Firebird is an exception. He only wishes it could look like this.

Is it just me, or do you find teenagers these days often have a better vehicle than you? I mean, great if their parents can afford one, but there’s just some element of it all that irks me. When a young man, barely able to see over the steering wheel, sweeps past me in an enormous new truck on his way to school, I’m vaguely irritated. Of course, all young people don’t have new vehicles.

Take my son Justin for instance. Although not a teen any longer, he’s a fine example of starting out with little, and building up from there. He motors about the countryside in a car that qualifies for antique status; a 1982 Firebird. Unfortunately, it would also qualify for the junkyard. I asked him to take my vehicle into town for repairs a few weeks back, which left me to drive his. Mistake!

Some months ago, with an eye towards restoration, he gutted it, but unable to complete the job he left the dash, the console and the backseat, in his basement. To say the interior is grim and austere is understating things by quite a bit.

As we walked towards it, Justin dropped the keys into my outstretched palm, mentioning casually, “You might wanna bundle up. There’s no heat.”

He left, hands shoved in his pockets, whistling a cheerful tune, as his aged mother prepared to clamber behind the wheel. Hunkering low to the ground, I shuffled my feet out well past any reasonable center of gravity, sidled up to the open door, and flung myself within.

You’ve heard people say their vehicle has low clearance? They have no flippin' idea. I swear I felt gravel crunch directly beneath my posterior. Swinging the door shut, I glanced up for a brief moment at the dog, who stood outside licking the glass, before leaning back and passing from view onto the flattened seat.

Where were the controls to move it forward, and upright? Great, there were none. I lay recumbent, staring at the bare, metal roof. “Good — bloody — grief!” I texted to my son, holding the phone over my face as I typed these words of incredulity.

Stretching out a hesitant toe I could just reach the pedals, and if I gripped the steering wheel hard, whilst leveraging myself upright, it was possible to get it in gear and make out the dim outline of a road through the frosty window. Mercifully, I had to drive it only two miles.

Nonetheless, the trip was made safely, as I’m sure you’ve surmised. It was an interesting journey, as I can’t say I’ve ever operated a motor vehicle lying down before. My passage through town was uneventful, too, although a few interested bystanders did pause to stare as a seemingly driverless car rumbled past. They might also have wondered why it endlessly signaled a left turn. I wasn’t aware, but once on, the light failed to cancel, soundlessly indicating my intention to exit the road for a mile and a half.

In hindsight, this may not have been the right incident to cite in order to prove my case. However, I still maintain kids these days have nicer cars than me. Justin’s an exception.

Helen lives on the family farm near Marshall, Saskatchewan, where she works as an author, columnist, and in education. To contact her, write Box 55, Marshall, SK. S0M1R0 or There, you can learn more about her humorous Prairie Wool Books, or newly released fantasy series.