The White Wagon
There was a wire sprung from the back seat that would send you to the hospital if you weren’t careful. It was one of many ways the White Wagon could kill you. I don’t know how the rusty spring wire worked its way lose. At different times it was snipped back or covered in duct tape, but these common sense precautionary measures never lasted for long. The wire always reemerged, thirsty for blood.
I heard the phrase, “Watch out for the wire!” uttered probably twelve-hundred times between 1984 and 1998. In the early years it was always my father, saying it to each member of the swimming carpool three times a week. Our friends’ parents were doctors and lawyers; they didn’t have rusty wires sticking out of the back seats of their cars. So it’s a good thing that dad was so cautious. That wire might have caught someone off guard.
“Don’t let the wire get you…”
“Don’t get bit!”
“Watch out! The wire is mean today! It’ll get ya’!”
It was easy to laugh at our father carefully reminding each passenger about the deadly wire. He was so sincere and reliable. Every friend, no matter how often they entered the White Wagon, received a fresh and friendly cautionary exclamation, every single time. Our friends became accustomed to the cunning wire and they came to look forward to my dad’s gentle warnings.
It’s always our father I remember warning friends about the wire. He drove his share of carpools, but the White Wagon was really our mom’s car. I don’t remember her warning passengers the way he did. I’m sure she shared his concern. She certainly didn’t want to send anyone to the hospital for a round of tetanus shots; she just lacked the single minded focus of our father. Sometimes people got bit. Live and learn.