Could two people used to having vehicles at their disposal learn to share one car? Find out in Courier-Post columnist Danny Henley's "A Little Salt."
Just a few days after the birth of his first child, my son, Jacob, extended an invitation to my wife, Nancy, and I to come to Wisconsin for a weekend to meet his pride and joy. However, after a couple of days at home with a new baby, Jacob called Hannibal again.
“Do you think you could stay a little longer?” my son inquired of Nancy.
“How soon would you like us?” asked Nancy.
“How about today,” Jacob replied.
While there was no way I could go and stay for more than a weekend, this opportunity to be a grandma was something my wife wasn’t about to turn down.
By the time I got home from work that day, Nancy was already packed and essentially just waiting for a vehicle to take her five-plus hours north where a new grandchild awaited her.
After topping off the fuel tank and loading the trunk with her suitcase, an assortment of food items and sewing incidentals, Nancy grabbed her keys and was ready to begin her journey. Since it was not too far out of her way, Nancy agreed to drop me off at work on her way out of town. Although anxious to get out on the highway, I appreciated my bride’s willingness to come to a complete stop in front of the Courier-Post to let me out instead of just slowing below 15 mph and yelling “Bail out now!”
As I watched Nancy drive away in the car I normally use, it hit me that my transportation needs were now resting fully in the hands of my teen-age daughter, Anna.
Normally in our family, two cars are shared by three people, with my transportation needs (for work) and Anna’s (for school) taking priority. If something blows up, blows over or burns down, unless it happens within a couple of blocks of the Courier-Post, I need a vehicle to get me to the scene. As for school, Anna is confident a lack of transportation would not gain her much sympathy from any of her HLGU instructors.
It was a situation that could have been a nightmare for both of us unless we were willing to do two things – communicate and share.
I know the recipe for making the most of our one-car driving dilemma sounds simple enough, it required some changes on the part of both Anna and me.
Because of our different schedules it’s not uncommon for Anna and I to not cross paths during any given day, let alone have cause to communicate. And if we do have a verbal exchange, it goes something like this:
Me: “Where are you off to?”
Anna: “To work out.”
Me: “What time will you be home?”
Anna: “When I’m done. Bye.”
And as for sharing, because we’re both priority drivers in the Henley household, I won’t say it was a totally unheard of concept, but it was rarely required.
The first big challenge came on the initial day of partnership. Because the car needed four new tires, two priority drivers found themselves with no vehicle to share. Thankfully my far-sighted wife had made the appointment on a day when Anna had no classes. Nancy also made the appointment at a shop within walking distance of the newspaper, so when the car was done I wouldn’t need a ride to go get it.
I wish I had some funny tales to tell you about my nine days of sharing a vehicle with Anna. But truth be told, it went off more smoothly than I could have imagined.
We communicated in advance about our respective schedules. Plus, we provided schedule updates during the course of each day via phone calls or e-mails.
On days she needed the car for school, Anna was always a trooper about getting up earlier than normal in order to drive me to work before her classes started. Not once did I ever have to yell “cock a doodle doo” outside her bedroom door.
And when I had to work nights, never did Anna forget to drop off the car so I could get home.
While Anna is far more accustomed to exams than I am, I think we both passed with flying colors our test in sharing.