Riding in Cars with Boys

There have been some terrifying stories in the news of late regarding children in cars. I thought I’d lighten the mood with a rather humorous story from my childhood involving a car…

Every now and then, my parents would drop me off with my grandparents for a day or two. Sometimes we’d do fun things together – go to the movies, go swimming – but more often than not we did mundane, every-day activities. Whatever we did, I always had a blast.

This story takes place on a cool autumn day when I must have been around 8 or 9 years old. My grandmother took me to the local supermarket for some light shopping and some bottle returns. Bottle returns were my favorite; popping bottles into the mouth of a gigantic machine, hearing them get crunched down, and watching your nickel count grow bigger and bigger with each bottle you put it. (Not to mention getting a slip of paper at the end that could be exchanged for cash!) On this particular day, my grandmother decided to leave me to do the bottle returns right next to the supermarket entrance while she ran inside and bought a handful of items. The plan was for me to wait for her to drive up with her car and I’d jump in.

I finished returning the bottles, and with my receipt in hand, I waited by the front of the supermarket for my grandmother to drive by. Sure enough, after a few minutes of waiting, my grandmother’s pale gold sedan pulled up right in front of me. I jumped in the back seat, bragging about the $1.30 I had just made from bottles. My grandmother, wearing her green coat and white bucket hat over her short, white hair, turned around to smile at me. Except she wasn’t smiling… and she wasn’t my grandmother either. In fact, she wasn’t a “she” at all. The driver was an elderly man wearing the same color coat and hat as my grandmother, and driving the same color car. I apologized awkwardly and dashed out of the car, convinced that my grandmother had been eaten by the big, bad wolf now impersonating her so that he could eat me as well.

A few minutes later my real grandmother drove up. Still scarred from my last experience, I waited for her to roll down the window so I could see her face before climbing into the back seat.

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