Monday, November 28, 2011



The Carpool

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I was a stay-at-home Mom until my children were in school. When I heard that GTE Sylvania was hiring back in my old hometown of Emporium, I immediately applied for work to help out with the bills.

We only had two vehicles at the time: a red Renault Alliance and a yellow Chevy Luv pick-up truck.  Both were great on gas, but I was already paying my neighbor for child care before and after school, so I decided to look into carpooling. I put a notice on the bulletin board near the punch clock and got a reply. Three men in my neighborhood were already carpooling and said they would be glad to have me join them. That way, each of us would only have to drive one week per month.

Now, I was in my 30’s and these men were WELL into their 50’s. I am not sure how they felt about my driving, but each of them had their “quirks.” They always made me ride shotgun.

Fiorantino, the Italian man always smoked and drank coffee. He felt it was necessary to talk to me the whole 40-mile trip. His breath made my stomach churn so I soon learned to dowse myself with some strong perfume on those days!

Bob was the most “normal” of the three.  We both seemed to sense this and would connect visually through the rear-view mirror. The first time I rode with Bob, Thomas snored loudly from the back seat.  Then I noticed that he also snored when Fiorantio drove.  When he snored as I drove, I began to wonder if he ALWAYS snored.  I was about to find out.

It was a snowy morning when Thomas picked me up.  Bob and Fiorantino were already settled into the back seat, Bob leaning toward his window as Fiorantino was speaking to him.  Bob and I connected eyes and tried not to laugh.

We started out from Ridgway onto the long 2-lane highway that connected to St. Marys, about 15 miles away. The road was deserted at 5AM and it was still dark. The roadway was completely covered in snow and the only way to gauge where to drive was by guessing where the center of the roadway was and stay to the right. I looked up and noticed that Thomas’ eyes were closed.  I scanned the roadway ahead.  We seemed to be on our side, so I wasn’t too concerned until I saw something in the middle of our side…something lying on the road…something like a dead deer. 

As we approached, I saw that I was correct….a dead deer, probably frozen stiff, lay in our path.  I quickly looked in the mirror to see what Bob was thinking.  His eyebrows were furrowed and he looked at me in anticipation, as if to say, “See?  I told you he ALWAYS snored and slept, even when he drove.”

We hit the deer dead on going at about 45MPH in a VW station wagon.  We were airborne for what seemed forever after the initial impact, then landed the way an unseasoned pilot might drop a DC-10 onto the airport runway on his maiden flight. The “landing” startled Thomas and his eyes flew open and he asked, “What the hell was THAT???

“Oh, a dead deer.” I mumbled, tightening my seatbelt while peeking into the back seat where Bob tried so hard to stifle a laugh, he had tears in his eyes, or else he was scared to tears.

Thomas didn’t snore, nor did he close his eyes for the rest of the trip. I managed to carpool for the first month and a half, but decided to drive myself just as it was Thomas’ turn…..

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