By Daris Howard
Special to The PREVIEW
Jack had loved cars since he was young. Now that he was retired, he especially loved the cars from his youth — vintage or antique cars, they were now called.
The biggest and best antique car rally was coming up, and the minute the tickets became available, Jack purchased one. He could hardly wait for the big day. His ticket was going to be his Christmas present to himself. But just before the car show, he slipped and fell, putting him in a wheelchair.
Jack was not about to let that stop him. He had a son who lived in the town where the rally was being held. Jack was sure his son would be willing to take him to the show. He called to find out.
“David, if I can get down to your place, could you get me to the car rally?” Jack asked.
“Sure, Dad,” David replied. “I’d love to go to it with you, but I have to work that day.”
“That’s OK,” Jack replied. “If you can just get me there, I can spend the day, and then you can pick me up after work.”
They worked out all the details. Jack would take the bus down to the town where David lived, arriving the night before the rally. Jack would stay at David’s house, and David would take him to the car rally on his way to work.
Jack checked with the bus line, and they were willing to help him on and off. They would also fold up his wheelchair and put it into the luggage storage area. He was able to get a ride to the bus from a friend and was soon settled in for the four-hour trip. David was waiting at the bus stop when Jack arrived. David’s wife had a nice meal for them, then Jack retired early. He wanted to be alert for the next day and not miss a second of it.
The next morning, after a robust breakfast, Jack was ready to go to the rally. David helped Jack into his car, and they were off. When they got to the rally, the doors were not yet open, and there was already a line. David helped Jack out of the car and into the wheelchair.
Jack knew David was supposed to be to work at eight. “David, you go to work. I’ll be fine.”
“Don’t you want me to help you at least get into the rally?”
Jack shook his head. “I’m in line. I’ve got my ticket. What could go wrong?”
With one last assurance, David went to work. David worked all day and then came back to get his father. But Jack wasn’t at the exhibit hall. Instead, David found out Jack was across the street at the nursing home. As David helped Jack into his car, he asked how the day went.
“What I want to know is who the idiot is who decided to build a nursing home next to an exhibit hall!” Jack said.
“Why?” David asked.
“When I got to the door and was going to show them my ticket, I couldn’t find it. While I searched for it, someone decided I must have escaped from the nursing home. They wheeled me all the way there before I was able to find my ticket. They still checked with the nursing home manager to make sure I hadn’t escaped before they took me back.”
“But you got back and went to the show all right, didn’t you?” David asked.
“Yes, but there were more than a dozen times during the day that someone thought I escaped. Sometimes they called the nursing home, and a staff member came, and sometimes the person thought they would be helpful and take me back themselves. I swear I spent half of my day trying to straighten things out so I could stay in the exhibit.”
“Is that why you were at the nursing home when I picked you up?” David asked.
“Not totally,” Jack said. “There was one car I really wanted to ride in, so I may have let on to the owner that I’d escaped from the nursing home, hoping he would feel sorry for me and give me a ride back. Even though it was just across the street, I figured he’d lengthen the ride around town, and I was right.”
“You let the car owner think you had come from the nursing home so he’d give you a ride?” David asked in surprise. “Isn’t that sneaky?”
“All I can say,” Jack replied, “is if a man is dealt a bad hand, he should use it to his advantage.”
By Daris Howard