Most people have heard the saying in one way or another: before you judge someone, you should walk a mile in his shoes. I’ve recently come up with another way to gain insight into someone’s heart: drive a few miles in his car.
The other day I had to drive my husband’s route car into town. I honestly don’t think I have driven it since it quit being an extra family vehicle and officially became his route car. He delivers mail in a rural area. The roads are rough on vehicles. I always give his work cars special names. Not all may be appropriate to write here, but I’ll share one: El Disgusto. See, I said he has a rural route. I mean, dirt roads-some of the last ones to get plowed in the winter-rural. If any of you live on a dirt road, you understand the dust and grime that has accumulated over the years. Incidentally, I avoid driving his route vehicles at all costs. If he has the family minivan somewhere and I am home with just his car, I act as though I have no vehicle available to me.
So for reasons that aren’t important, I drove it 15 miles into town and back to get groceries. Before I left, he told me that when I see it smoking not to worry; it does that all the time. I rolled my eyes and said, “Great.” He had to come out and move the seat forward because the button wasn’t working right. Then I got in-after putting a towel on the seat–and buckled the seatbelt. That left my hand feeling grimy and me wondering if I was going to have a dirt line on my sweater when I got to the store. I hated to even touch the steering wheel, but after admitting there was no alternative, I grabbed on.
I called him on my way into town to ask him if it was normal for the car to shake like pieces were going to fall off of it when I reached 55 MPH. He said, “Yes, it does that sometimes.” I literally imagined that I was going to end up like one of those cartoons-driving down the road with the car falling apart and me sailing down the pavement in nothing but a seat and steering wheel.
I told him that I can’t believe he drives this vehicle every day; that it is ridiculous that this is the vehicle we rely on for our livelihood. I said if I had to drive that vehicle every day I would be terribly depressed. He said, “That’s just one way I sacrifice for the family. I don’t want us to be in debt.” Wow. I don’t give him nearly enough credit sometimes. Since we don’t have enough money to buy a nicer vehicle outright, he drives this one until then. For the family. For me. Every single work day. And I complain when he wakes me up in the morning while he’s getting ready to go do that. It’s nice to put things into perspective sometimes.