#53 – Road Trip from Hell – Alanna Kruger

“You know that’s bad luck, right?” my mom warned me.  I stood in the middle of her office with a closed umbrella in my hands.  “Whatever,” I said as I pushed the button on the handle and it swung open like a charm.

The next day, I sat in the office at school waiting for my dad to come pick me up for an orthodontist appointment.  I was in the sixth grade and my third year of braces.  When he came, I noticed that he was using one of the company Suburbans.  I felt uneasy because a few weeks earlier, my mom had come home complaining that one of the Suburbans had broken down.  I pushed my worries aside and we embarked on the hour-long drive to the orthodontist.

We got into town on schedule and any thoughts of the car breaking down had left my mind until we stopped at a red light and the car wouldn’t go again.  I was terrified as my dad told me to get out of the car.  He pushed it to the side of the road near a Chinese restaurant.  I was blown away at my father’s strength, pushing a suburban alone.

We called a taxi, which promptly left after getting tired of waiting for us to get our stuff out of the car.  My dad called an auto shop and while waiting for the Triple A guy to come, pushed the car into the parking lot of  “The Happy Dragon,” which was going out of business.  The Chinese owner was selling trinkets and decorations from the restaurant.  I bought myself a small faux jade elephant and some plastic flowers for my sisters.  The owner told us that the jade elephant was a symbol of good luck.  “We’re gonna need it,” I thought.

While still waiting for the Triple A man to come, the restaurant owner commented my dad’s Hawaiian style shirt, which had Chinese characters and dragons on it.  He said, “Your shirt says good fortune and prosperity.”  My dad and I just looked at each other and laughed.  This day was anything but prosperous.

Eventually, the Triple A man showed up, jumped our car, and we followed him back to the shop.  There, my dad called a taxi from a different company.  This one didn’t drive away without us.  We got there safely, albeit very late, and I had my appointment.

We were picked up by a Triple A employee and I ended up riding back to the shop crammed in the back of the small pickup next to an IHOP waitress.  When we got our car, we discovered that the automatic door-unlock wasn’t working so we stopped at a RadioShack to buy some batteries for the car keys.  I waited in the car while my dad was inside.  When he came out, he tried the keys and they still didn’t work.  I suggested, “Maybe you put the batteries in backwards.”

“I’m a man,” he replied, “I don’t put batteries in backwards.”  He tried reversing them anyways.  It worked and I enjoyed making fun of him for it.  My dad told me car stories on the way back, which somehow made me forget about my fears of our own car troubles.

We made it home safely and that night while lying in my bed, I remembered that the day before, I had opened an umbrella indoors and had been warned that it would be bad luck.  I’m not a very superstitious person but that is one thing I haven’t done since that fateful road trip from hell.

~ Alanna Kruger, Brawley, California

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